By Sarah Townsend
World’s first commercial link using Hyperloop technology likely to be built in UAE
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed a deal to explore the potential for developing a Hyperloop link to neighbouring Abu Dhabi.
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.
The deal was signed with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, which is already conducting a feasibility study with DP World to explore the movement of cargo in and around Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port.
Hyperloop One also showcased the first-ever routes from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, several Hyperports (the equivalent of a station or airport) throughout Dubai, and the conceptual interiors and exteriors of the individual passenger pods.
In the press conference, an outline of the proposed network showed stations at Dubai International, the Burj Khalia, Dubai Marina, Dubai World Central, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Saadiyat Island and Etihad Towers.
No financial details were released. Under the terms of the deal, Hyperloop One will work with McKinsey and the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) on the detailed feasibility study.
Rob Lloyd, the chief executive of Hyperloop One, said that the firm would have a meeting with transport authorities in Abu Dhabi in the "next few days" to secure a similar deal, which would be crucial if the proposed network were to be finalised.
Previous reports have suggested that the new transportation system could cut journey times between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to 12 minutes.
Ahead of its press conference today, Hyperloop One released a new teaser video that showed projected journey times between Dubai and some capital cities in the Gulf region.
Hyperloop One, in its video, has said it will take 48 minutes to travel from Dubai to Riyadh; 23 minutes to travel from Dubai to Doha and 27 minutes to travel from Dubai to Muscat.
The concept originated in a paper by Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk in 2013, who envisioned it whisking passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.