One hundred top engineering minds from around the world will converge in Dubai next month for a 48-hour competition to design a futuristic subsonic propulsion tube capable of shuttling passengers at speeds of up to 1,200km/h across the country.
In theory, what’s called a Hyperloop could whisk riders from Dubai to Fujairah along a 127-km commuter tube within 10 minutes, said global challenge hosts Dubai Future Foundation on Monday who are partnering with Asite, organisers of the annual Build Earth Live competition.
Hyperloop is a system that integrates a low-pressure pipe linking two stations, enabling passenger capsules within the tube to travel at high speeds of up to 1,200km/h.
Using the controlled environment of a tube, passengers are shot at high speeds in capsules that ride in a low-pressure environment for less resistance and without friction, similar to the way maglev high-speed trains travel without wheels along high-speed lines.
The hyperloop design was first conceived in a 2010 whitepaper by Elon Reeve Musk, a South African-born billionaire inventor who helped found Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
Musk described his open-sourced hyperloop system as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table” for combining subsonic speed and the levitating ability of air pressure.
Hyperloop pipes of the future could be built above ground and topped with solar panels to power the propulsion systems of induction motors and air compressors to push capsules along.
The hyperloop system has already been proposed as a future project between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and would shorten the trip to the capital to only 15 minutes for passengers riding inside the tube.
Dubai Future Foundation said on Monday that in the final stage of the competition next month, six teams will present their project blueprints to competition judges.
“Dubai is hosting this global event as part of the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make the UAE and Dubai a global platform for innovative minds to come together to create futuristic solutions on issues of relevance to humanity. This contest is a great opportunity to explore innovation ideas in the smart transportation sector,” said Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future and vice-chairman and managing director of Dubai Future Foundation, in a statement. “This will eventually lead to massive global economic growth, and we aim to keep pace with the rapid developments by focusing on smart application of services and innovation in all fields,” Al Gergawi said.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Future Foundation board member, said the smart systems will bolster Dubai’s reputation for pioneering technology across all sectors, including transportation.
Al Tayer said the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy, in concert with the foundation, aims to convert by 2030, 25 per cent of the total commuting trips to autonomous mode (driverless) as one of the world’s most important initiatives. The RTA, he said, has recently begun trial runs of the first driverless smart vehicle that accommodates up to 10 passengers.
Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said: “Hyperloop is now a major topic of study and research to find effective ways of implementing technology in line with the global trends of innovation as well as the vision of Dubai Future Foundation as part of Dubai’s Future Cities programme which has smart transportation as a key pillar of the programme.”
Nathan Doughty, Group chief operating officer and executive director of Asite, said: “We are delighted that the UAE is hosting the Build Earth Live contest. Through this partnership, we are looking forward to bringing innovative designs to further develop the infrastructure and find realistic future solutions, especially in the transportation sector.”
Event organisers say Hyperloop technology is capable of reducing the time required for travel between New York and Beijing to just two hours. Experts say that the cost of building a single Hyperloop tube will cost just 10 per cent of the cost of building conventional high speed trains.