The Abu Dhabi government has signed an agreement with a US-based research firm to study the feasibility of a Hyperloop transport system between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
The Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMAT) announced in a statement on Monday that it had inked a deal with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (Hyperloop TT) – one of several companies working to bring the technology first conceived by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk to the Gulf.
The futuristic mode of transport involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, shuttling people and cargo at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometres per hour.
Last month, a different research firm – Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One – signed a similar deal with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to explore the potential for developing a Hyperloop link to Abu Dhabi.
Hyperloop One is aiming to grow its staff base in the Middle East as it inches closer to launching the pioneering technology in the region. This week it announced further plans to operate a high-speed service from Dubai to the Expo 2020 site by the time the event opens.
However, Hyperloop TT provides it with competition. The California-based company – part of technology crowdfunding initiative Jumpstartfund – last week announced investments totalling more than $100 million, including $31.8 million in cash investments $26 million in man-hours and services, and land rights valued at more than $22 million, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, companies including engineering firm Atkins and industrial products firm Leybold GmbH, have pledged an additional $29 million of commitments and ‘in-kind’ investments, to help the company develop the Hyperloop travel system.
It claims the system would connect Abu Dhabi with neighbouring Al Ain in between eight and 12 minutes.
This week’s deal includes plans to undertake a route analysis, feasibility study and cost estimate and development schedule, determined over the next few months.
After that, Hyperloop TT and DMAT are to discuss further steps.
Khalid Mohamed Hashim, acting executive director of Land Transport Sector at DMAT, said: “Through this agreement with HyperloopTT, we aim to study the feasibility of developing of the first Hyperloop™ system, which is one of the latest and most advanced transportation technologies that is expected to reach a top speed of 1,200 kilometers per hour.
“The reinforcement of connectivity between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain is one of the strategic objectives of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, aiming to stimulate economic, social and touristic development between Al Ain and its suburbs and the capital city.”
Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of HyperloopTT, added: “We see in this agreement a significant opportunity that will allow us to bring to life our vision of providing valuable solutions with a positive impact on safe, rapid and effective transportation.
“It will result in providing a sustainable solution – reducing the carbon footprint while enriching the lives of people in various communities here in Abu Dhabi.”