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Hyperloop One Touts Seamless Transportation

Friday, November 18, 2016

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The Dubai-to-Abu Dhabi Hyperloop track that architectural and design group Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) teased late last month is coming together in a way that makes the seemingly futuristic travel option appear more feasible and practical.

In addition to sharing a more fleshed-out concept of how the system would work for passengers, Hyperloop One announced last week that it had signed an agreement with Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to evaluate routes for the high-speed passenger transportation system in the United Arab Emirates.

“Headlines will talk up the wonders of getting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, but the real stories here are how fast Hyperloop One is gaining traction and how our vision for autonomous mobility is starting to come into focus,” the company said on its blog.

Pods and Portals

The vision of Hyperloop passenger travel that BIG and Hyperloop One unveiled last week is one that looks not entirely dissimilar to traditional means of mass transit.

Passengers will be able to look up availability via an app on their smartphones, make a reservation and select a class of travel, and be notified of their designated departure gate. But that’s where similarities end.

Hyperloop has its own terminology to describe the mechanics of its travel system.

“The set of products we’re showing include Hyperportals (the equivalent of stations or airports) and autonomous Hyperpods that dock into a Hyperloop One transporter for longer distance travel but otherwise zip around town on their own,” the company says.

Hyperportal main entrance
Photos: Hyperloop One

The main entrance to the Hyperportal at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai looks not unlike the airports or train stations travelers are already familiar with. The departure gates sit along the outside edges of the portal's circular design.

You could arrive at the portal and head to your gate and enter or your Hyperpod. Or the autonomous Hyperpod could pick you up and drive you into the portal, then dock inside a waiting transporter. The transporter accommodates four pods to travel through the Hyperloop tubes as a group at speeds expected to reach around 680 miles per hour. After arriving at the destination portal, your pod emerges from the transporter and can take you directly to your intended final destination.

“Your doors only open twice. Every journey is direct,” Hyperloop One says.

The Hyperpods will be able to seat anywhere from six to 100 people; companies could make use of custom meeting pods, or travelers could take advantage of a lounge pod. The Hyperportal is expected to house 120 pod gates, serving more than 8,600 passengers per hour.

Group pod rendering

Because travelers directly access the Hyperpods that will transport them through the Hyperloop's tubes, the concept of waiting areas is eliminated, according to BIG. Here, a rendering shows the concept of a group pod configuration.

And whereas past peeks at the Hyperloop concept looked like travel would occur encased in a solid, claustrophobic tube, BIG’s designers now envision installing narrow slits on the tube at regular intervals. This would create a zoetrope effect, they said, that tricks the eye into seeing a moving image of the outside world.

“We’re going to create a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere—not going somewhere,” says Josh Giegel, Hyperloop One’s president of engineering. “We don’t sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.”

Feasibility Study

During its design reveal, Hyperloop one indicated it would undertake a feasibility study with BIG and McKinsey & Co. transportation consultants.

“We’re going to spend the next 12 weeks working with design and architecture firm BIG, and the RTA to figure out where and how to build what would likely be a hybrid passenger-freight system in Emirates,” the company 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,” adds Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar.

The RTA agreement is the second of the company’s agreements in the UAE, following a deal to explore a cargo system with global trade firm DP World in August; it’s also the company’s sixth route study overall.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; Mass transit; North America; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Transportation

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