Hyperloop startup TransPod scouting Alberta for test track options
CEO Sebastien Gendron lured to province by Calgary engineers
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A Toronto-based start up that wants to build hyperloop technology will be scouting out Alberta in April as a potential development site for its research and development.
TransPod already has the backing of investors to the tune of $20 million, and partnerships with rail, aerospace and architecture companies.
Its CEO, Sebastien Gendron, said the company’s goal is to develop both transportation pod and tube technology from the ground up, so that it can be marketed and installed worldwide.
The idea of hyperloop transportation involves passenger pods that move through low-pressure pipelines at jet-airliner speeds over medium-length distances – too far for cars but too short for air travel.
Several companies and universities have been racing to be first with the technology since the idea was floated by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2012.
Gendron said two University of Calgary alumni who have an interest in the technology talked him into coming to the province to look at its major cities and the corridor between them as a place to do business.
“They really shared with me their motivation to bring that technology to the province and I said, ‘Sure, I’m open to it if you’re ready to take on the challenge. Let’s do some initial business development work,’” he said.
Daniel Juck is one of the two who talked Gendron into a visit. The former oil and gas engineer is working on his MBA at the University of Calgary, and ended up using the example of hyperloop technology for a class presentation.
“I travelled between Edmonton and Calgary due to my previous work,” said Juck. “I was always thinking, ‘Why is there no train?’”
His class project morphed into ongoing communication with Gendron, to the point where he and fellow engineer and hyperloop enthusiast Igor Avli set up the four-day tour.
The men say Gendron will be meeting with government officials at the municipal and provincial level, along with potential investors and university representatives, although they were not prepared to give specifics.
Gendron said his company’s stated goal has been a hyperloop track between Toronto and Montreal, but he sees merit in an Edmonton-Calgary link as well.
“The two locations we’re prospecting are Alberta and Ontario – but definitely the one that is showing the most amount of interest is Alberta,” he said.
His immediate interest is in setting up a research and development facility, and a test track for the pods.
“I’m looking forward to come and see what we can do in Alberta,” he said.