Hyperloop may sound like a fantasy, but that isn’t stopping dozens of companies from throwing money at it as quickly as possible. TransPod, a hyperloop startup founded in 2015, announced that it would open three global offices on Wednesday, in a bid to attract international engineering and design talent. The company is aiming to develop a commercially viable hyperloop transport system by 2020, with the initial major project targeted at Canada.
TransPod closed a seed round of $15 million in investment funding late last year. The company is one of many that jumped on Elon Musk’s initial concept of launching passenger and cargo pods at more than 700 miles per hour through vacuum-sealed tubes, cutting the travel time from San Francisco to Los Angeles to around 30 minutes.
As it stands, TransPod’s competitor Hyperloop One is leading the pack after building the world’s first full-scale test track in the Nevada desert. That company is currently holding a design competition for potential routes, with the winners receiving feasibility studies. But TransPod says it has something new to offer.
“Our biggest differentiator versus other hyperloop companies is that the approach at TransPod is to take a physics-first and engineering-first approach to our design,” a TransPod spokesperson tells Inverse. “We’re not using pre-existing concepts of hyperloop, and we’re not crowdsourcing or harvesting ideas and trying to make them fit with each other.”
TransPod is exploring a number of routes. One plan under consideration is the Toronto-Montreal corridor, but in the long term, it’s not looking to limit itself to just Canadian projects. The company wants its system to work with both passenger and cargo transit, and it plans to focus on countries with aging infrastructure, a strong need for new transit systems, and a high-density population.
To make this first project happen, it’s opened three offices. The first office in Toronto, Canada, will serve as the main international headquarters, a rather fitting location for a company looking to build its initial system in the city.
Another in Bari, Italy, will collaborate with regional partners during testing and development. These include SITAEL, Italy’s largest privately-owned space company, as well as aviation specialists Blackshape and railway experts MERMEC. The third office, in Toulouse, France, will work with engineering firm IKOS and design partner REC Architecture.
“The future of hyperloop will be its ability to virtually shrink distances and create a much more interconnected economy and true global community,” Sebastien Gendron, co-founder and CEO of TransPod, said in a statement released Wednesday.
Watch the company introduction video below: