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Middle East Hyperloop to begin construction next year

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Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has announced that it will begin construction on the world’s first full-scale hyperloop in Abu Dhabi, beginning in the third quarter of 2019.

The concept of the hyperloop was formulated and described in detail in a 2013 white paper by industrialist Elon Musk, who argued that two-dimensional transportation was inefficient. Instead, he proposed a system of large vacuum tubes, through which pods containing cargo, vehicles or passengers can be accelerated at aircraft speeds, cutting hours-long journeys to a matter of minutes. Musk invited other parties to develop the hyperloop, and in the past few years a number of companies have been racing to be the first to build a full-scale system.

In July 2017, Hyperloop One (now Virgin Hyperloop One) became the first to demonstrate the hyperloop concept on a test track using magnetic levitation. Hyperloop One has signed a deal with the government of Dubai to develop a hyperloop which could connect the city with Abu Dhabi.

Now, HyperloopTT – a Los Angeles-based company established soon after the publication of Musk’s paper – has taken a leap ahead of its competition, announcing that it has appointed engineering company Dar Al-Handasah as its partner in bringing a full-scale commercial hyperloop to Abu Dhabi, beginning construction in 2019.

HyperloopTT has proposed a site on the border of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, near Al Maktoum International Airport. The site will contain a 10km Hyperloop system and an “innovation and experience centre”. Most notably, the company announced that it would begin construction on the project in the third quarter of 2019.

Earlier this year, the company suggested that it would consider hyperloop routes connecting Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, Dubai and Riyadh.

“We are bringing the future of rapid transportation technology to all those living in the UAE,” said Bibop Gresta, HyperloopTT chairman. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the continued commitment and determination of all our partners, both within the UAE and abroad.

“As we move forward with the system we invite other interested organisations in the region and around the world to join us in making history.”

HyperloopTT did not suggest when the project would be completed and ready to launch. Proposals to build hyperloop routes have attracted criticism for likely complications relating to safety, comfort, cost, logistics and planning, and scepticism about whether there is sufficient demand to justify investing in this still-unproven technology.

Meanwhile, Musk has announced that his Boring Company – which was founded to develop more effective tunnelling technology for a venture into underground hyperloops – has almost completed a 2-mile (3.2km) test track beneath Los Angeles. Musk commented that there would be an opening event on 10 December with free rides for the public the next day.

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