Virgin Hyperloop One to Face Competition from Reliance-Backed skyTran in India

reliance invests in skytran

Following Elon Musk’s Hyperloop ideation in 2013, several companies jumped on board to capitalize on the technology. Virgin Hyperloop One is one prominent company that has been working on Musk’s magnetic levitation-based, carbon emission-free transportation technology. It is aiming to introduce the futuristic mode of transportation in India in the coming years. The company already has three ongoing projects in the country. However, as per a recent report, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani also aims to bring a similar kind of transportation to India to compete with Virgin Hyperloop One.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries invested resources in a US-based transportation company skyTran back in 2018. The company is developing pod taxis based on magnetic levitation, much like Virgin Hyperloop One. Now, according to recent reports, Reliance has acquired the company through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures.

The Indian firm started by acquiring 12.7% of skyTran’s stakes back in 2018. In 2019, Reliance invested more to acquire nearly 17.37% of the US-based company. And now, Reliance has around 26.3% stakes in skyTran. Now, earlier this week, Ambani poured another $26.76 million into the company to increase its shareholding from 26.3% to 54.46%. This means Reliance is now a majority stakeholder in skyTran.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means that Virgin Hyperloop One might now have tough competition from Ambani’s skyTran. The Indian magnate will most likely attempt to bring magnetic-levitation transportation to the country soon.

“skyTran has developed breakthrough passive magnetic levitation and propulsion technology for implementing personal transportation systems aimed at solving the problem of traffic congestion globally,” reads Reliance’s regulatory filing.

Now, as I mentioned before, Virgin Hyperloop One already has three major projects in-the-works in India. The transport company aims to connect Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Pune, NCR’s New Delhi and Chandigarh, and Bengaluru with its International Airport. Moreover, near the end of last year, we saw the company successfully complete its first passenger test run for the transportation system.

So, as you can imagine, Virgin Hyperloop One is already a step ahead of Reliance’s skyTran. The latter’s transportation technology is still in its initial stages, so it will be interesting to see how skyTran develops its pod taxis as compared to Hyperloop’s offering.

Moreover, tough competition means more innovation. So, the entry of Ambani’s skyTran in India will likely lead to more development of Hyperloop transportation in the country. As a result, we might see the magnetic-levitation modes of transportation, much like those we have seen in iRobot and other sci-fi movies, make their way to India sooner rather than later.

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