Hyperloop is undoubtedly the most talked about hypothetical proposal in the transportation industry. After talks held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi it looks like Elon Musk’s innovation could really become a reality. On November 8th, an agreement was signed between the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Hyperloop One, a global high-speed transport company to meet the plans outlined by the Dubai Future Accelerators, (DFA) programme.
Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation, and Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, signed the arrangement. Hyperloop One will be the firm attempting to bring this innovation to life. It will become the “fifth mode of transport” according to the Tesla inventor Elon Musk which will propel passengers and cargo between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in an outstanding twelve minutes. It is planned to cross 100 miles reaching speeds of 1,200km/h (700mph) which is faster than aircrafts. Rob Lloyd, the boss of Hyperloop One, believes that “from a technological point of view, we could have a system built in the UAE in the next five years.”
If the technology proves successful then the emirate will be setting the example for transport across the world. As well as improving journey times between Dubai and Abu Dhabi this will also be extended to Riyadh reducing the journey to 48 minutes. To improve urban accessibility, Hyperloop One also plan to use self-driving cars to commute between the shorter distances around the city. However, these vehicles will also be boarded onto the Hyperloop train. For Dubai, the results of this new technology could revolutionise urban transportation. It is expected that individuals could commute more effectively around cities so that parking congestion would no longer be an issue. Al Tayer said: "Dubai has become a model for the cities of the future, launching one revolutionary initiative after the other and drastically reshaping strategic economic sectors.”
Dubai is becoming a platform to showcase many innovations around the world. The DFA twelve week programme is evidence of this. It encourages businesses to pitch their latest breakthrough solutions to deliver urban improvements. “The Dubai Future Accelerators programme, though only a few months old, is now a gateway for the world’s most innovative companies to materialise their ideas and achieve tangible results that can change the future and benefit mankind," said Rob Lloyd of Hyperloop One. The region is devoted to creating the technology of the future and this is being proved by the Doha Metro - the largest metro in the world. But now their attentions are turning to the Hyperloop.
In the past other Hyperloop plans have been agreed and then failed in the development process. Professor David Bailey, from the Aston Business School, said that the plan to launch a hyperloop in the United Arab Emirates was "more feasible" than a previous announcement to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. Bailey told the BBC that "Building it through the desert means you can plan a route that is straight - it doesn't do curves very well - and the government there will see it as a way to be at the forefront of a new technology."
Hyperloop One has one main rival - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), who are both competing to trial and construct the first commercial model. Hyperloop One now has more than 200 employees at their innovation campus in Downtown Los Angeles and test and safety site in North Las Vegas, NV.
Brogan BamBrogan ( @BamBrogan ), Hyperloop One co-founder and CTO commented, "Our growing team of incredible engineers is working at full-speed along a proven development process to design, analyze, build and test the hardware and software to make Hyperloop a reality… No one comes close to our progress in commercializing this revolutionary transportation system."
Hyperloop One tested their first motor in May this year and will test the full system early next year. The firm has declared that they are in the process of developing new routes in five different countries. They have an ambitious goal to finish their first model of the Hyperloop by 2020 and transport cargo by 2021. This urgency may also be after the news that rival firm HTT signed a deal in March to bring its Hyperloop technology to Slovakia, aiming to link Bratislava with Vienna and Budapest.
What could hold the Hyperloop One project back in the emirates?
- The final prototype of the Hyperloop has not yet been developed especially over the long planned distances containing passengers. Huge expense and practicality stand in its way.
- The technology will require long, straight routes which will dig into large amounts of land.
- Safety and discomfort. If the ride proves sickening, then these efforts will be wasted as passengers would turn to other comfortable alternatives. For this reason a test route across the Arabian desert would be a good place to start. With few obstacles to avoid, there will be less need for nausea-inducing bends.
Editor's comment: The new Dubai proposal could be the most feasible agreement yet, but whatever the outcome is, this innovation could be a realistic part of our future. Who knows exactly how long this will take?
For more about the Hyperloop development and Dubai's transportation you may be interested in: