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Hyperloop One’s ousted co-founder just launched his hyperloop competitor

Brogan BamBrogan is back to take on his former company.

From left to right: Andrew Liu, Knut Sauer, Jadon Smith, Brogan BamBrogan, Nima Bahrami, William Mulholland and David Pendergast.

More than three years ago, Elon Musk laid out the blueprint for what he thought would be the future of high-speed travel: The hyperloop. In short order, two companies sprang up to make that blueprint a reality.

For one of those companies, Hyperloop One, the path to getting the tube-based transport system up and running has been a bumpy one. In July, the company ousted its former chief technology officer and one of its co-founders, Brogan BamBrogan, sparking a series of lawsuits between the two parties that alleged BamBrogan was trying to poach staffers to start his own company.

While each lawsuit makes a number of other claims, it turns out the allegation that BamBrogan was starting his own company is true. Today, the former SpaceX engineer officially launched his Hyperloop One competitor, called Arrivo.

Arrivo will design both the infrastructure of the transport system as well as the pods or vehicles that will transport both freight and passengers, but may eventually work with supply chain partners to manufacture them.

“There are a lot of ways to address hyperloop,” BamBrogan told Recode. “[Elon’s white paper] wasn’t a recipe, it was an inspiration point. I think the ways to differentiate are going to be many, and they are certainly going to be how to serve the market best. We at Arrivo are going to be developing a pretty full product lineup.”

BamBrogan isn’t alone in his new endeavor. Arrivo has six co-founders, three of whom were ousted from Hyperloop One along with BamBrogan, including the company’s general counsel David Pendergast, Vice President of Finance William Mulholland and Head of Business Development Knut Sauer. Hyperloop One’s former Vice President of Transponics is also joining Arrivo. The two other co-founders are Andrew Liu, who was previously at AECOM, and Jadon Smith, who spent 10 years at SpaceX.

The company wouldn’t go into too many details but said that it has raised capital and expects to set up two test sites for its version of hyperloop, one of which will be in the U.S.

“We’re already in talks wth potential project partners,” BamBrogan said.

Arrivo is also looking to hire more than 30 employees by June and more than 70 by the end of 2017.

Building the answer to consumers’ long-distance travel woes is no easy task, but for Arrivo it’s made more difficult by the momentum its competitor Hyperloop One has seen.

To date, Hyperloop One has raised more than $140 million and has inked agreements with the Dubai government to set up its technology in the country. The company also plans to run the first complete test of its system in March of this year.

Though Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has operated with considerably less drama, the company has raised $30 million and is working to gain a foothold in Europe, where it’s setting up research centers and has signed an agreement with a city in Slovakia.

Even so, BamBrogan’s team is confident they can commercialize their version of the hyperloop within three years.

“[Hyperloop] is becoming an industry, whereas a few years ago it was looked at as a wacky idea and science fiction,” BamBrogan said. “The deeper we get into it becoming a real industry, the less important it is to be the first to market.”

But before any of the companies can do that, it has to be regulated. In an interview with Recode, the former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said the government may not be ready to create a legal framework for the technology.

“We in the U.S., one of our greatest virtues and one of the biggest challenges for us, is that when new transportation technology is introduced, something like hyperloop, [they] say ‘We want to be first.’ A lot of the time, we say, ‘We want to be safest.’ And I think that’s a good thing for us.”

BamBrogan agrees that the technology needs to be vetted a little more before the U.S. is ready to legalize it, but he plans to accomplish that by first proving Arrivo can move freight safely and efficiently.

“I do think there are opportunities in the United States [where] we can step up this technology in a healthy way,” the former SpaceX engineer said. “Elon didn’t start SpaceX and say, ‘Let’s go to Mars.’ He said, ‘Let’s go to lower earth orbit first.’ We see a progression like that.”

“I would love to maintain the U.S.’s foundation as an innovative country [by being] the first to deploy the tech if possible,” he said. “But the whole world has needs for transportation [and] we’re here to help.”

Update: A previous version of this post stated Nima Bahrami was also ousted from Hyperloop One. He left on his own accord after the lawsuit.

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