By Sarah Townsend
Roads and Transport Authority signed deal with US-based Hyperloop One in November
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has formed a committee to explore the potential for building a Hyperloop rapid transit system between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and commissioned the first provisional studies under its deal with US-based research firm Hyperloop One.
The Dubai transport regulator signed an agreement with Hyperloop One in November to work together on ways to make the project viable.
Under the terms of the deal, Hyperloop One will work with McKinsey and architecture and engineering firm the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) on a detailed feasibility study.
Hyperloop is the brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk. The futuristic mode of transport involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the floating pods shuttle people and cargo at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour.
Hyperloop One, which is one firm researching how to build such a system, claims that it would transport passengers and cargo from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in as little as 12 minutes.
Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the RTA, said in a statement this week that a steering committee had been formed within the RTA to oversee the work with Hyperloop One.
Over the past three months, various studies had been conducted with a view to building the business case for a Dubai-Abu Dhabi Hyperloop.
Al Tayer said: “A team has been formed to keep track of studies conducted about the provision of the hyperloop technology in Dubai.
“We have also formed a steering committee chaired by me with members comprising the CEO of Rail Agency, executive director of my office, CEO of Hyperloop One, and other representatives from the RTA and the [Hyperloop One].
“Over the past three months, Hyperloop One, in coordination with the RTA, has carried out provisional studies focussing on suggested routes in Dubai, the economic, financial and environmental impact, and the rate of resulting reduced traffic congestions and carbon emissions.
“Additionally, provisional studies have been carried out to examine the standards of issuing safety certificates.”
“RTA experts have furnished Hyperloop One Company with the information that will help clarify the deliverables of the provisional study.
“Following the completion of the provisional feasibility study, Hyperloop One will submit final reports for assessment of deliverables by RTA experts, and recommendations will be raised to the steering committee to assess the feasibility of implementing the Hyperloop technology.”
Al Tayer explained that the Hyperloop system is “still fairly new” and therefore has yet to be fully tested or its safety credentials proven.
“So it has been agreed to explore the feasibility of providing this technology in Dubai in future without setting a timeline for the time being.”
Separately, Hyperloop One plans to run the world’s first full-size hyperloop test in Las Vegas in the coming months, to prove the company has the technology in place to carry passengers from A to B at close to the speed of sound.
For Dubai, the RTA envisages a hyperloop system as being part of an emirate-wide strategy to transform 25 percent of total journeys in Dubai into ‘smart’ driverless modes of transportation.