Then, on December 8, HTT announced its partnership with Hitachi Rail, a major player in the European rail industry. In addition to a financial investment, Hitachi promises to share its signaling technology, essential for monitoring trains in real time, with the company. The platform, known as ERTMS, was a pan-European project to replace a hodge-podge of legacy railway signaling with a single continent-wide standard. The system includes modules that help trains communicate with each other, as well as with the “track” itself. HTT wanted to underline how the agreement shows the growing embrace between the railway establishment and the company which seeks to revolutionize it. Hitachi, as part of the deal, also gets the right of first refusal when it comes to building the system on future Hyperloop networks.
The announcements, while small in isolation, are all part of HTT’s strategy to build a broad coalition with existing industry partners. For some time he has been working with TÜV Süd – a German product safety assessor – to build safety instructions for future hyperloop configurations. The company has also partnered with the operator of the Port of Hamburg – Germany’s largest seaport – to research better ways to move goods. Even further, in 2017, HTT partnered with insurer Munich Re to certify that these projects will be insurable – a key element in ensuring the company’s viability from a commercial perspective.
HTT would like to reject comparisons with the earlier mentioned Virgin Hyperloop, its alleged rival in this transportation space race. This company grabbed the headlines recently after doing his first crewed capsule test at its DevLoop plant in Nevada. HTT, meanwhile, was forced to temporarily shut down its Toulouse facilities to comply with French lockdown orders. But he said the extra downtime was helpful as it allowed the team to demonstrate the effectiveness of their technology in maintaining the vacuum.
Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, HTT has yet to demonstrate its vision with a functional test. He says the longer his incubation time and the more diverse his roster of engineers – all working as part of the company’s unusual cast. working structure – will win in the end. But until the company is able to offer tangible proof of its technology, HTT will just have to make sure it makes as many friends as possible.