Just five years since forming, Hyperloop TT edges closer to unveiling first commercial track
Abu Dhabi set for moment in Hyperloop history
After five long years in the planning, the pieces in the Hyperloop puzzle finally appear to be falling into place.
The first full-scale passenger capsule was unveiled in Southern Spain this week and Abu Dhabi now seems set to open a commercial section of track next year.
Over the coming months in Toulouse, France, tests will be completed ahead of a live run of the technology to see how it performs in reality.
Experts say that is likely to happen in the first half of 2019, with a fully operational segment of system being opened in the UAE shortly after that.
Those behind the ambitious project, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, (HTT) insist the development is not an arms race, despite two other companies pursuing similar goals to bring the vision of a new, high speed network to life.
“The creation of this capsule represents over a year long journey of the best expertise in design, engineering, and the development of cutting edge materials,” said Dirk Ahlborn, HTT co-founder and chief executive.
“In just five years we have solved and improved upon all of the technology needed for Hyperloop, from a new levitation system to vacuum pumps, batteries, and smart composites.
“This capsule will be a part of one of the most efficient transportation systems ever made.”
Despite travelling at speeds of up to 1,230kph, designers say the effects on the human body of supersonic travel inside a vacuum tunnel will be minimal.
Engineers working on the project believe the passenger experience will be similar to that on board a commercial airliner. Virtual windows will also offer passengers a view to an artificial world outside.
Design has been a crucial phase of QuinteroOne, set to become the first capsule to carry passengers at the speed of sound between the Al Ghadeer development on the edge of Dubai, and the Hyperloop station in Abu Dhabi.
And as well as the UAE, HTT – a California-based company - has signed similar agreements in the United States, Brazil, France, India, China, Korea, Indonesia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Ukraine.
In 2016, Spanish company Carbures, now called Airtificial, signed a €2.1 million (Dh8.9m) contract with HTT to build the passenger capsule, using the latest aerospace technology and engineering.
The pod is rigged with sensors to know exactly how the structure – a purpose-built, superlight composite material called Vibranium - performs at high speeds.
Inbuilt sensors within the structure will detect and warn about excessive temperatures, offering vital information on any deformation or damage.
And by eliminating human error from the driving process of mass transport, HTT and other companies like it around the world expect the system to be the safest form of transportation on the planet.
Rival company Virgin Hyperloop One is on course to open a test track of its own in 2019, with a 15km route planned to run from Balewadi to Gahunje in India.
Meanwhile, HTT capsule engineers and designers remain unsure of how their vehicle should best be described.
One thing is clear, however; the Hyperloop system is a unique form of transport which promises to revolutionise the way we travel.
“We had to think about everything in layers, from mechanical and materials, down to the painting process and how it would withstand high speeds,” Javier Moreno, general manager of engineering company Airtificial-Carbures said.
“This has been made possible with talent from around Andalusia. We are exhausted, but proud to have been involved in this project.
“We are not sure if this is a plane on the ground or a train in heaven, but it is special.”