Described as “the biggest breakthrough in transport since the Wright Brothers gave us flight” the proposed Hyperloop system will see travellers hurtling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi at speeds of 1,200 km/h cutting the journey time to just 12 minutes.
Sustainable benefits include lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed rail and energy usage per person similar to that of a bicycle.
The smart and integrated technology, consisting of a low-pressure tube through which levitating pods travel, containing both passengers and freight was explained at the World Future Energy Summit, held in Abu Dhabi.
Colin Rhys, creative director of Hyperloop One, said: “Hyperloop is a start-up business and the UAE is a start-up country.
“We hope to be up and running for passengers by 2021 offering seamless and stress-free travel. We firmly believe that a journey is all about the destination. We don’t want to improve the travel experience, we want to eliminate it. This is the biggest breakthrough in transport since the Wright Brothers gave us flight.”
The design by architect Bjarke Ingels consists of a fleet of pods that transport passengers to Hyperloop’s main transport hub. The passengers will then move to larger capsules, which then travel across a network of elevated tubes to their desired destinations.
“With Hyperloop One we have given form to a mobility ecosystem of Hyperpods and Hyperloop One Portals, where the waiting hall has vanished, along with waiting itself,” said Ingels, founder of his firm BIG.
The departure gates are numbered and arranged in tiers around the edge of the departure point, known as a portal. Pods of six passengers are the loaded into a transporter – a pressurised vessel attached to a magnetically levitated chassis for propulsion.
Once the pods have arrived at their destination, they are then “hyperjumped” into another portal before travelling onto the road to drop passengers at their final destination.
“Collective commuting with individual freedom at near supersonic speed: we are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity – time and space – is warped by this new form of travel,” Ingels said.
The creative team promise cost of using the system will be similar to that of a bus ticket (which is currently AED25 from Dubai to Abu Dhabi) with portals set to be built at Dubai Airport, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina and Abu Dhabi’s city centre and airport.
Hyperloop One has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority to develop the project. The company has raised more than $160m and assembled a team of more than 200 designers and engineers, built a creative hub in Los Angeles, a test site in the Nevada desert and a manufacturing plant close to Las Vegas.
“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. Our agreement with the RTA is the biggest step yet towards achieving this goal,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One.
In addition to connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Hyperloop One’s plans also include journey times to Riyadh of 48 minutes, Doha of 23 minutes and Muscat of 27 minutes.
“By making autonomous vehicles an integral part of the development of the Hyperloop One system, we are introducing the idea of seamless, uninterrupted end-to-end mobility,” said Josh Giegel, Hyperloop One’s president of engineering.
“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.”