Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Hyperloop: Futuristic transport chief hopes for regulatory approval in 2018

The chief executive of the company looking to bring Hyperloop technology to the region is hoping to gain regulatory approval for its futuristic transportation by the end of 2018.

Speaking at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai on Tuesday, Rob Lloyd, the chief executive of Hyperloop One, said that the company is currently “learning what it will take to create the regulatory framework” required.

However, he hoped this could be delivered and developed in the UAE first, with a view to then using this as a blueprint for operations elsewhere in the world.

“I view this so far as an environment where we can create new rules. There are no rules to regulate the Hyperloop today.”

Mr Lloyd said that his company would need to work with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Abu Dhabi’s Department for Municipality Affairs and Transport (DMAT) and the Federal Transport Authority to gain approval for its technology, which he claims could deliver passengers from Dubai International Airport to Abu Dhabi International Airport in 12 minutes.

“Our objective would be to create a playbook for regulatory approval and we are working with some of the experts around the world to do that. We think we need to have that done in the 2018 timeframe so that we can begin construction in 2019 and go into production of Hyperloop somewhere in the region by 2020-21.”

Hyperloop One, the company co-founded by the venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and based on an idea created by Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, is currently building a prototype of the Hyperloop system north of Las Vegas in the Nevada desert.

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Zipping across the desert: See how long it would take to get around the UAE and the GCC by Hyperloop

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The concept, in which a magnetically levitated pod is propelled through a near-vacuum tube at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometres an hour, has yet to be fully tested, and many scientists have suggested it faces engineering and financial challenges that may make it impracticable.

Mr Lloyd said that the company had grown from 110 employees to 250 in just a year, and that he expects this to double to 500 by the end of the year.

He said that “probably dozens and dozens” of these jobs would be based in the UAE.

“We’re in the process of finalising an entity here – you’ll hear more about that in the future. But we are seeing interest from across the Gulf region in this idea, and you will see a significant amount of expansion of our resources here for engineering, for some of the work we’re doing with partners and customers … there’s a lot of work to take a new technology and bring it to production, and we see a significant amount of that happening in the Emirates. Our work is under way as we speak.”

Abdul Mohsen Ibrahim You­nus, the chief executive of the RTA’s rail agency, said: “Currently, experts from both parties are discussing key challenges, particularly with regards to the operation and safety – not only from a systems safety point of view, but also from a human physiology perspective as well.”

He said that the RTA was looking to adopt other technologies in its projects, including Lidar laser surveying technology and the use of 3D printing to produce spare parts.

“Another area where I personally would like to see further development is the effective use of drone technology. I believe there is considerable pot­ential of drones being utilised in areas such as assets and infrastructure monitoring. Also, drones can be used in accident and incident investigation,” Mr Younus said.

* Video courtesy CNBC. The National and CNBC are content sharing partners.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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Updated: March 7, 2017 04:00 AM

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