Venture Explains: Hyperloop

What is it? First envisioned by billionaire futurist Elon Musk, Hyperloop is a science fiction-style mode of mass transit that shoots passenger pods at near supersonic speeds along a low-pressure tube. The company behind the technology, Hyperloop One, is calling it broadband for transportation. Investors seem equally exited. In less than two years, the firm has managed to raise more than $160 million. This has been used to fund a team of more than 200 world-class experts, a campus in downtown Los Angeles, a test and safety site in the Nevada desert, and a 10,000 square-meter machine and tooling facility in Las Vegas.

When do we get to try it? Sooner than you think. Hyperloop One recently signed a deal with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority to examine ways of creating a Hyperloop between Dubai and neighboring Abu Dhabi at some point over the next five years. If successful, it’s thought the journey time between the two emirates could be slashed from two hours to just 12 minutes. The flat terrain and year-round sunshine will provide the ideal testing ground for the revolutionary new technology.

What about the future? We’re told to expect big things. “By making autonomous vehicles an integral part of the development of the Hyperloop One system, we are introducing the idea of seamless, uninterrupted end-to-end mobility,” enthused Josh Giegel, Hyperloop One’s president of engineering. “Imagine stepping out of your villa in Dubai, into a self-driving vehicle that resembles your living room, and arriving just 48 minutes later at your office in Riyadh. That is what Hyperloop One can deliver.”