After years of testing and developing hyperloop technology at their full-scale test site, Virgin Hyperloop has announced that the global Hyperloop Certification Center (HCC) will be located in the state of West Virginia.
“Today is one of the most exciting days in Virgin Hyperloop’s history,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “The Hyperloop Certification Center is the start of the hyperloop journey for West Virginia, for the United States, and for the world. We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere.”
This announcement builds off of significant progress in Europe on the regulatory front. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) has held numerous workshops over the past 2 years with hyperloop companies in conjunction with regulatory authorities and standards bodies – leading to the establishment of a baseline for the functional blocks of a hyperloop system and safety requirements. The European Commission is now carrying out a 9 month study to develop a safety regulatory approach for Europe, the results of which will be used by the Commission to develop the regulatory policy for hyperloop technologies. Active discussions are also underway with the three European regulatory authorities – the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the European Space Agency (ESA).
In the United States, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council unveiled a guidance document on a clear regulatory framework for hyperloop in the United States – providing a pathway to regulation and establishing a hyperloop project’s eligibility for federal funding.
The HCC provides an opportunity for regulators, governments, companies, and universities from around the world to forge global, groundbreaking partnerships surrounding all elements of this new transportation technology.
“The Hyperloop Certification Center will be a global hub for hyperloop,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. “Our goal is to bring together authorities from around the world to set global safety and industry standards for this new mode of ultra-fast, zero-emissions mode of transport.”
This global regulatory momentum, combined with the advancements at the HCC, will pave the way for the certification of hyperloop systems around the world – the first step towards commercial projects, including those in Europe.
By combining an ultra-efficient electric motor, magnetic levitation, and a low-drag environment, hyperloop systems can carry more people than a subway, at airline speeds, and with zero direct emissions. With the goal to be safety certified by 2025 and begin commercial operations by 2030, the 100% electric Virgin Hyperloop system could play a key role in helping achieve the European Green Deal’s climate-neutrality objective.