Hyperloop and HARP in 2017: On the Fast-Track

Posted by Hanh Ngo and Steve Cohn

The Hyperloop Advanced Research Partnership (HARP) is a vibrant organization, growing rapidly in membership and accomplishments.

The concept for HARP sparked from the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop Consortium (RMHLC), one of the teams competing in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Inspired by the founder of RMHLC, the HARP premise is that many opportunities and hurdles faced by the hyperloop and tube transportation industry are best addressed by a neutral nonprofit organization. HARP serves the broad hyperloop industry and is not part of the RMHLC or any hyperloop company. We have engaged tube transportation companies, such as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Virgin Hyperloop One, Hardt, Transpod, Arrivo, Hyper Chariot, and Hypernet Holding Corporation to coordinate and advance technology development.

HARP’s MISSION: Enable and promote the collaboration, research, funding, communication, and knowledge sharing essential for development of hyperloop networks around the world.

HARP’s primary areas of activity are SUPPORT, EDUCATION, and RESEARCH to accelerate the development of safe, efficient, and sustainable hyperloop and tube transportation as the fifth mode of travel.

  • We SUPPORT the advancement of hyperloop and tube technology by serving as a resource to government, companies, universities, and researchers. Our support takes the form of collaboration, information-sharing, and convening functions.

  • We EDUCATE in public, private, and academic fora to increase understanding of the vision, benefit, and technology readiness of hyperloop and tube transportation systems.

  • We enable and conduct RESEARCH by identifying key questions, performing qualitative and quantitative analysis, and documenting knowledge of hyperloop and tube transportation.

Milestones – An accelerating trajectory of achievement

December 2016 - March 2017

Beginning December 2016, RMHLC team members considered how a neutral group could overcome obstacles to hyperloop creation. Interest and enthusiasm grew, and HARP emerged. HARP formed around a core team of four founders, supported by many creative, hard-working volunteers. The HARP family began as a diverse mix of private and public sector professionals, students, university professors, and other passionate individuals.

An early goal was to form topical Councils, led and populated by industry and government representatives and public enthusiasts. Each council would represent a specific area of interest. Councils set their own agenda, identify problems and projects, and work on them together. Having Councils enables hyperloop companies, industry experts, potential partners, and HARP sponsors to gather around the same table, finding common work that advances the hyperloop industry.

The first public HARP activity was the HARP Inaugural Symposium in Denver, Colorado on March 25, 2017. This tested the traction of HARP among a wider group and initiated the Councils. It was by invitation only, and was followed by a Mixer open to the public. HARP received excellent feedback and endorsement from about 25 attendees. We initially formed 10 councils: Education; Energy; Environmental & Sustainability; Industry Leaders; Land Use & Development; Market Analysis & Economics; Local Government; Safety, Security, & Standards; Transportation & Infrastructure Policy; and Research, with some council groups later combining forces. HARP also connected with students and faculty from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the University of Houston (UH). These relationships have thrived and people from both universities are now well integrated into the HARP family.

April - June 2017

Following the Inaugural Symposium, HARP expanded its reach and visibility. Remaining an all-volunteer organization, the team has led a wide range of activities. Internally, we formalized the organization’s status, sharpened our vision, mission, and goals, and considered how best to grow. Externally, HARP coordinated meetings with high-level influencers, orchestrated our second Symposium, and got on the radar of broadcast and print media.

  • In April, HARP met in Washington D.C. with government leaders and policymakers. We had high-level meetings with transportation researchers and policymakers, national security thought leaders, and Capitol Hill staffers. On the same trip, we had a presence at the Hyperloop One – Vision for America gathering. We met informally with groups envisioning a hyperloop for their regions, Hyperloop One leaders, and media interested in the future of transportation.

  • Later in April, HARP elected our Board of Directors, incorporated in Oregon, and started down the path to be recognized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit by the IRS.

  • The Second HARP Symposium took place June 14, 2017 on the campus of the University of Houston and was strengthened by the HARP-UH collaboration that began at the Denver Symposium. More than 50 participants attended, participated in Councils meetings, and learned from presentations. Rich Byrnes, Chief Infrastructure Officer of Port Houston, and D. Worthington, CEO of Loop Global, a leading high-speed tube transportation company were keynote speakers. This event was billed as an Industry-Academic Partnering event, and it lived up to its name. Attendees included thought leaders, students and faculty from university teams in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition (teams presented posters), many UH faculty and students, hyperloop companies, and engineering and architecture firms. Following this event, HARP officially enrolled our Volunteers, Fellows, and Interns, who are essential to the mission. The Texas transportation and technology communities are active, vibrant, and looking for innovative ideas such as hyperloop to alleviate traffic congestion, improve mobility, and build a better future.

July – October 2017

HARP gained momentum and is increasingly recognized for thought leadership and its unique role to provide trustworthy information. HARP President Dane Egli and Board Member Rick Geddes appeared on TV, radio, and in print, introducing hyperloop and HARP to broad audiences. HARP has also exchanged information and guidance with the leaders of hyperloop companies, transportation stakeholders such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and state transportation officials in several western states.

HARP’s role as a convener is also growing. In July, HARP received a letter of support from a consortium of Colorado Springs area stakeholders enthusiastic about developing hyperloop in that region. This letter was signed by more than 20 leaders including members of the U.S. Congress, the Colorado senate, city and county elected officials, economic development organizations, and university leaders.

In September, HARP submitted its application to the IRS to become recognized as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit. We await the IRS letter of determination.

What’s Next?

HARP is hosting a marquee event December 6, 2017 in New York City. The Hyperloop: Promises and Challenges will convene an expert panel to discuss the toughest hyperloop technology and policy questions. The panelists include CEOs and Presidents of industry-leading hyperloop companies, transportation policy experts, and security and resilience experts. Space is limited; we expect a sold-out event with all 75 seats filled.

HARP is also in the early stage of planning an International Conference on Hyperloop and Related Technologies. To be held in Los Angeles, CA in summer 2018, it will have the format of an academic conference. Emphasis will be on needed research in areas such as technology, economics, policy, and urban and rural impacts. This Conference will likely be co-sponsored by universities and interested research groups.

Want to be a part of the excitement?

Stay in the Hyperloop and HARP. Become a HARP member, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and join our mailing list. Please join us at an upcoming event!

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