Hyperloop One future: Is super-fast travel really coming our way anytime soon?

Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla | First published: 13 November 2016, 3:54 IST
Hyperloop One future: Is super-fast travel really coming our way anytime soon?

Dubai to Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes. That's Hyperloop One, the well-funded, futuristic transportation company's launch plan. It wants to build the first passenger-ready Hyperloop in Dubai. The plan is to take a 99-mile (159 km) journey, that usually takes about two hours by car, and reduce it to a 12 minute ride. It'll do this with a top speed of 1,220 km/h (760 mph). The company, on Tuesday, released a high-quality video on the Hyperloop.

The video gives us a glimpse into how riding the Hyperloop would be. More importantly, the designers and the team behind the Hyperloop are envisioning it to be sort of on-demand, ultra-fast transportation, just like the likes of Ola and Uber.

This is how Andrew J. Hawkins describes it on The Verge "After making a reservation on your phone, an autonomously driven, box-shaped pod would show up at your location to take you to the hyperloop station. The pods would drive through the city alongside regular car traffic, with the video showing cars jockeying for space on the road with translucent, over-sized shoe boxes full of people.

At the portal, your pod docks together in a transporter with other pods carrying more passengers or maybe cargo. Then they are fed into a vacuum-sealed tube, where you'll zip along at hundreds of miles per hour to your destination."

The company signed an agreement on Tuesday with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Together they will explore the issues that surround the construction. This study will take place over the next 12 weeks. Designers, architects, transportation experts and others will be part of it.

Expectations are sky high ever since Elon Musk, the concept architect unveiled plans for a Hyperloop transportation system back in 2013. It's a US start-up taking forward Musk's futuristic vision further.

With the project from Hyperloop One going full steam ahead in Dubai, they will remain high until 2020 and 2021 when the companies plans are expected to start carrying freight and passengers respectively.

The original plan that was drawn up was from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. That was estimated at a cost of $6billion or $11.5 million per mile, which according to multiple reports is less than the current cost of high-speed rail.

One thing's certain. Cost varies depending on location "presumably because of the cost of land, rights of way and labor".

Leaked documents

Forbes was able to obtain some leaked investment documents from the company. According to these documents, the cost per mile has gone up from Elon Musk's - concept architects - originally proposed $11.5 million in 2013 to $52 million a mile.

Hyperloop One, which has already raised $50 million back in mid-October is looking to raise an additional $250 million in the next funding round by early next year. It's also looking for 'tens of millions in new financing'.