Dubai is renowned as an early adopter and supporter of pioneering tech. As Future Technology Week launches at DWTC, we discover more about Hyperloop One, the ultra-fast transit system hailed as the biggest breakthrough in transport in more than a century Still in its infancy, the hyperloop is set to change the way we travel. Faster than current rail and even air transportation, if all goes to plan, the system could represent the largest shake-up to global travel and transport, since the launch of the world’s first scheduled passenger airline service in 1914. Hyperloop technology comprises a sealed tube through which a pod travels free from air resistance or friction, potentially cutting travel times from hours to minutes. The technology has been adopted by city governments around the world, and has found particularly enthusiastic support in Dubai, which has become synonymous with the development of breakthrough future tech. With permission from Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) one US-based company, Virgin Hyperloop One, has begun exploring ways to connect the city to the wider UAE and beyond. And this week the firm, which is based in the US, unveiled DP World Cargospeed, a proposed new venture that could one day move goods anywhere in the world in just 48 hours. But what makes Dubai the ideal location to roll out the region’s first hyperloop network? On the eve of Future Technology Week 2018, we asked Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director for Middle East & India at Hyperloop One, to explain. Why do you think Hyperloop One is a natural fit for Dubai and the UAE? The UAE has an unparalleled track record of pushing the boundaries of innovation. Its commitment to investing in future technologies fully aligns with our ambition to reinvent transportation and eliminate the barriers of distance and time. Geographically, the region is well suited to hyperloop systems due to its relatively flat terrain. And of course the UAE, as a key gateway to the wider region as well as a hub for trade, logistics, tourism and finance, is an ideal place to start building a regional network. As we certify the systems for commercial use, the UAE’s progressive approach to regulation is particularly important. We are heavily invested in building strong relationships with governments around the world and we have found a great partner in Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The engagement and support we see from the highest levels of UAE government are encouraging. What are some of the natural barriers to entry, and how is your partnership with the RTA helping you overcome these barriers? As with any new transport infrastructure, there are regulatory hurdles to overcome. We have worked very closely with the RTA and the Government of Dubai since we took part in the Dubai Future Accelerators programme in 2016, and last year Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the RTA visited our office in Los Angeles. In February 2018, we unveiled the Dubai Hyperloop Pod, the world’s first full-scale hyperloop pod experience. The event marked the end of phase 1 of our relationship with the RTA. This included a detailed feasibility study for routes in Dubai, and we are now in discussions with the RTA to define the second phase, which will be announced shortly. The UAE is committed to creating the transportation infrastructure of the future, and we believe that our system can be the backbone of that revolution. How will Hyperloop fit in with existing modes of transportation? Our technology is intermodal, meaning it can connect seamlessly to other modes of transport. An important aspect of our ongoing conversations with governments is in fact about ensuring that we are able to connect to existing city frameworks. For example, we would look to connect hyperloop routes to autonomous vehicles and existing infrastructure, such as airports. This would support the RTA’s strategy to transform 25 per cent of total journeys in Dubai into driverless transport using different means by 2030.
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