There is a lot being said and written about the Hyperloop-One project. It’s a supersonic transport deal between the RTA (Road Transport Authority) of Dubai and the creators of this extraordinary transport system that will reduce the travel time between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi to 12 minutes.
However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this deal, let us first talk about the company Hyperloop-One and the technology involved. As understood by the information available on the Hyperloop-One website, it’s a novel way to transport people and cargo between 2 points at “airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket. ”More importantly, they claim it to be an “energy-efficient and safe” mode of transport.
The technology basically involves the use of a levitated pod going through a low-pressure tube powered by a “custom electric motor”. Again, their claim is that the ride would be a smooth glide for miles together, free of any turbulence.
Having spoken some basics about the technology, let us now discuss a bit about the organization itself, and how they grew into developers of one of the world’s most talked about technology.
The humble beginnings of this high-tech Company are as recent as 2014, launched from a Los Angeles garage. It is now a 200 strong team of engineers, welders, machinists, and designers and builders, working out of three campuses in Los Angeles and Nevada.
Now, coming back to the Dubai RTA and H1 deal, they are now in the process of evaluating the feasibility of this first ever surface transport system. If successful it would cover the 99-mile journey between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi in an incredible 12 minutes. The same journey between the two points by car takes about 2 hours.
H1 is, therefore, bang on target about being in the “business of selling time” as they consider the time to be the “most precious resource” of the modern era. According to a statement made by the Dubai Transport Authority’s Director General, Mattar al-Tayer, the cost of building the system will be “an important factor when making such a strategic decision on whether or not we can have Hyperloop”.
The CEO of Hyperloop-One, Rob Lloyd is quoted to have said “[Dubai] is our number one priority so we will do everything to make that happen,” He gave this statement soon after signing the deal with the Dubai transport authorities. The H1 CEO gave a time estimate of 5 years from a technical point of view.
Some of his statements after signing the deal:
“As a central global transport hub, pursuing the implementation of a Hyperloop in the UAE makes sense.”
“The leaders of the UAE understand that transportation is the new broadband, with the power to transform life throughout the GCC”.
“We are now at a stage where, from a technological point of view, we could have a Hyperloop One system built in the UAE in the next five years.”
It seems rather symbolic and may even seem flashy to some, that the deal was signed at the top of the world’s tallest and iconic building, the Burj Khalifa, earlier this week. Hyperloop-One ran their first test on their “custom electronic motor” in May 2016. However, the full system test will be conducted early next year. The company is working towards the goal of transporting cargo by 2020 and people by 2021. Now, that is fast progress.
It would be unfair not to mention Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who originally thought of the concept while Hyperloop-One is developing the technology.
The only other company involved in this business is the Hyperloop Transport Technologies which has been working with the French Railway Company (SNCF), exploring feasibilities to develop high-speed transport in the country.
The Hyperloop-One technology of reaching speeds of up to 760 mph (1,220 kph) on land is mind boggling. It has the potential to revolutionize land transportation for a long time to come.
Speaking at a presentation on Tuesday, Hyperloop-One recommended a network connecting Abu-Dhabi and Doha, Qatar through an undersea tunnel, in just 22 minutes. The company claimed that the network had the potential to extend up to Bahrain, an island nation, and Saudi Arabia.
Saif al-Aleeli, the young CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, which hosted the program said, “Imagine that you can live in Riyadh, work in Dubai, have your dinner in Abu Dhabi and watch a movie in Qatar,” as reported by the Associated Press. “Dubai is trying, as a mission, to prove that concept” he added.
Chris Vasquez, the director of product development for the Hyperloop Company said, ““This is a place where big things happen…. they don’t get bogged down by regulations, not that those things aren’t important and don’t deserve due diligence, but we’ve all seen projects stalled by over-crippling regulatory environments where it just stalls for years and years and years.”
A possible link between Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, Dubai International Airport and Fujairah International Airport were some of the ideas floated around by selected groups present at the Tuesday ceremony.
“Imagine stepping out of your villa in Dubai, into a self-driving vehicle that resembles your living room and arriving just 48 minutes later at your office in Riyadh. That is what Hyperloop- One can deliver,” said Mr. Giegel.
“This is an opportunity to help transform the UAE from a technology consumer to a technology creator, incubating expertise for a new global industry, in line with the UAE’s Vision 2021,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the RTA.
Booking a trip would become as easy as booking an Uber ride using a smartphone App. This would be possible because the pod itself is an independent vehicle. The pod has the capability of traveling independently on roads; hence, the Company is exploring this possibility of taking passengers directly to their doors.
According to Hyperloop-One, “The world is ready for a new mode of transportation that will change the way we live. We’re in the business of selling time, the most precious resource there is. When cities become metro stops, regions will flourish.”