UAE might see fully functioning Hyperloop by 2021, experts say
Hyperloop One has plans to increase its staff from 250 today to 500 by the end of the year.
No commuter likes getting stuck in traffic, especially rush hour traffic between cities.
This is exactly why the possibility of a fully functioning Hyperloop that will reduce commuting time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to a mere 12 minutes was welcomed with open arms last year. For many that have been closely monitoring the progress of the technology, the announcement by Hyperloop One - that it will soon test the world's first operational Hyperloop in a few weeks - is a reason to celebrate. Experts at the company also predicted that they would be able to move freight over the Hyperloop by 2020, and passengers by 2021.
Speaking at the 11th Middle East Rail annual conference, Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, brought attendees up to speed with the project being developed in the Nevada desert; and shared several never-before-seen images of the 500 meter-long DevLoop. The DevLoop trial will follow Hyperloop One's first public test of a prototype propulsion system, which took place in the same area less than twelve months ago in May 2016. The Hyperloop test structure in question weighs over one million kilograms, with a tube that is 3.3m in diameter.
Speaking at the conference, Lloyd also shared the company's vision for how Hyperloop One could transform the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with a faster, more efficient and cleaner system of mobility. A Hyperloop system is a new mode of transportation, capable of connecting to all modes of existing transportation and helping individuals be anywhere and move anything with on-demand autonomous transport. A Hyperloop One system would ease pressure on existing infrastructure and presents the potential for the Middle East to reinvent and transform transportation.
"While technology is revolutionising many facets of our lives, we have not seen a radical change in transportation since the Wright brothers introduced air travel over 100 years ago," said Lloyd. "Tying together the Middle East region would produce greater virtual density, without congestion and pollution, spurring innovation, productivity, job growth and more powerful sharing of knowledge, labor and investment. Building a Hyperloop would vastly impact the economy and make any major city in the GCC accessible within one hour."
Lloyd also revealed that Hyperloop One had plans to increase its staff from 250 today to 500 by the end of the year. The company also intends to hire several people from the UAE to add to its growing staff.
Nick Earle, senior vice president of Global Field Operations at Hyperloop One, is quick to point out that while there are several Hyperloop companies present in the market, Hyperloop One is the only company that has done any engineering on the project. "We are just weeks away now from the first public test and we are very confident that we will be running pods up and down that track in Nevada. This is the first time that anyone in the world will see the Hyperloop in action."
He describes the upcoming test as a 'proof of technology' which will be followed by the company establishing a 'proof of operations' where they build the Hyperloop in a candidate country, which will ultimately become part of a longer track.
"One of the seven candidates, obviously, is Dubai," he says. "We have been on the ground here in Dubai for around six months and we are already opening our first office in the city so that we can be closer to the proposed site and establish ourselves as a legal entity. If we go ahead to the next stage and build the Hyperloop then the regulator - which in this case is the RTA - will be able to use it to create a framework of regulations. We are working very closely with the RTA to design the technology that will ultimately shape how the Hyperloop is going to end up functioning. No other regulatory authority in the world currently has a set of regulations for a fully functioning Hyperloop."
Not only will a Hyperloop system benefit the GCC economically, but socially, by facilitating easier access to critical infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, expanding access to city attractions and unlocking urban development. It could create a UAE pan-urban area within a 30-minute Hyperloop reach between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain. Benefits of Hyperloop include higher standards of safety than a passenger jet, close to half the construction and lower maintenance costs than high-speed rail and energy usage that is similar to a bicycle per kilogram-kilometer.
Hyperloop One estimates that around 4,000 vehicles travel every day between Abu Dhabi & Dubai, with traffic congestion in Dubai costing the economy $800 million in lost working hours. Reducing this commute to 12 minutes opens a whole new realm of options, and Hyperloop One shows an investment in a UAE Hyperloop network could unlock economic value 3.5 to 4 times over high speed rail.
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