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New scoop for the Hyperloop

Future command centre of Hyperloop in Abu Dhabi. Source: Hyperloop One

A new partnership and video announced in the space of two days suggest Hyperloop is getting serious

Hyperloop One (H1) is almost set to span the route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It was announced yesterday that a partnership has been made between H1 and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which aims to assess the viability of installing the system in the city of Dubai and in the UAE. This indicates a further step in the right direction for H1 after a rocky year.

The company plans to use the high-speed tubes to transport cargo at Dubai’s Port Jebel Ali. According to the press release, “part of the network would be under water, while part of it would be suspended above the ground. The system involves levitating pods being shot through tubes at as fast as 750 miles (1200 km) per hour. That’s about twice as fast as Japan’s fastest maglev high-speed train”.

According to the announcement made by H1, the 160km journey between the two cities will take a mere 12 minutes to travel – ten times the 2 hours it would usually take by car.

Although many have their doubts over the feasibility of H1, the company is fairly financially secure right now due to its recent deal with DP World, bringing its war chest to a significant US$160 million. It took the opportunity to reveal a more in-depth look into the concept.

Catching a pod

Apparently foreshadowing its deal with the Dubai RTA, H1 released a concept video last week, demonstrating its vision of what it would be like to ride the Hyperloop. The glossy film transports the viewer through a typical ride a traveller would take from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

The user plots his journey using his smartphone and walks five minutes to catch a ‘passenger pod’. This passenger pod travels into a ‘transport capsule’ which then glides through the Hyperloop tube towards the Hyperloop station. He is then transported by road to his mother’s birthday party. It takes a total of 28 minutes to travel 124km. The user spends 10 minutes in the Hyperloop, travelling at “airline speeds”.

You can watch the footage below:

Contain your excitement

Although the video makes most people want to drool, questions need to be asked about what H1 is aiming to achieve. We now have an idea of the concept they are aiming for, however, the amount of money involved in this project may only make it a reality in places such as Dubai and the Silicon Valley. Elon Musk estimated the total cost of the Hyperloop at less than US$6 billion in 2013. The carrying of passengers bumps this figure up to US$7.5 billion. So there’s little hope of replacing the aeroplane commute from New York to Los Angeles just yet.

Nonetheless, the video focusses a great deal on public transport, which indicates there is some distraction within H1 from the deal with DP World, which is looking into creating an H1 inland container depot in Dubai.

The video may just be intended to attract people to the idea of the Hyperloop, as there’s nothing sexy about a container. The sheer expense of the project could mean that releases of videos such as this may become more common as H1 tries to attract investment.

Although the company is making deals and employing experts left-right-and-centre, it seems like they’re trying to make it all things to all people. We can expect further movement towards designing the Hyperloop to transport containers, whilst H1 keeps an eye on the role of public transport.


About Sarah Burroughs

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