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Hyperloop just took a major step toward becoming a reality in Dubai

With its penchant for headline-grabbing projects, Dubai seems like a perfect fit for the wonderfully extravagant Hyperloop project.

Hyperloop One announced a deal with the United Arab Emirates city on Tuesday that could see it become the first location in the world to build the ultra-fast transportation system.

Hyperportals and Hyperpods

The announcement also saw the rollout of yet another slick video (above) giving the clearest idea yet of what it might be like to take a Hyperloop ride. Check out the “Hyperportals” (the equivalent of stations or airports) and autonomous “Hyperpods” that dock into a “Hyperloop One transporter” for the main high-speed journey, though they can also zip around town on their own.

Signed where else but 500 meters high in the world’s tallest building – Dubai’s Burj Khalifa – the deal marks the start of a feasibility study focusing on a route between the famous UAE city and its neighbor, Abu Dhabi. By car the journey currently takes up to two hours, while a Hyperloop trip in a levitating capsule hurtling through a tube at more than 700 mph is projected to take a mere 12 minutes.

“Dubai makes perfect sense”

Commenting on the deal, Hyperloop One chief Shervin Pishevar said, “Dubai makes perfect sense for Hyperloop One because this is the 21st century’s global transport hub and its leaders understand that Hyperloop One is ushering in the next era of transportation.”

The LA-based company said that as part of its proposed Dubai plan, it’s going to spend “the next 12 weeks working with design and architecture firm BIG, transportation consultants at McKinsey & Co., and [Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority] to figure out where and how to build what would likely be a hybrid passenger-freight system” in the UAE.

Hyperloop One has already shown a serious interest in Dubai, having inked a deal with DP World – the third-largest port and terminals operator in the world – in August of this year. The agreement is aimed at using Hyperloop to increase the efficiency of Dubai’s huge Jebel Ali port by building a Hyperloop route to transport freight from the port to destinations inland. It’s hoped the tube-based track could be operating within the next four years.

Should the ambitious transportation system be shown to be workable and commercially viable, the UAE could find itself in a race with other countries who’ve also shown an interest in the unique technology.

Russia, the U.K., Australia, and the city-state of Singapore, among others, have all held exploratory talks with either Hyperloop One or rival firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Of course, both companies are also keen to implement their respective systems in the U.S., though tough regulatory hurdles may mean it could arrive in other nations first. If it arrives at all, that is.

While it’s true to say there’s still a huge amount of planning and testing to be done, Hyperloop One, for example, is making steady progress and has already showcased an early version of its technology at a special event in the Nevada desert in May.