It is almost 190 years since George Stephenson revolutionised public transport with his first steam locomotive engine. Transport has come a long way since then.
Just five years after an ambitious project to bring supersonic travel to the masses was launched, the first Hyperloop passenger pods, promising to revolutionise the way we live, have been unveiled at an event in Jerez, Spain.
At 32 metres in length and weighing five tonnes, QuinteroOne is the first passenger capsule designed and built to carry passengers at the speed of sound, Mach 1. That’s an astonishing 1,230kph, and Hyperloop Transportation Technology has promised to have the first commercial operations running in Abu Dhabi and China next year.
“In 2019, this capsule will be fully optimised and ready for passengers,” said Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of HTT.
“Since we have taken major steps in solving government regulations with our safety certification guidelines and insurance frameworks, we are now closer than ever to bringing Hyperloop to the world.”
Other companies are competing to claim routes across the world that would drastically reduce travel times and improve failing infrastructure.
The Richard Branson-backed Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to bring a similar project to India, connecting Pune and Mumbai.
A partnership with Dubai Ports in the UAE called DP World Cargospeed promises to provide deliveries at air speed, at the price of land transport.
But last month, HTT became the world’s first company to offer an insured commercial system, working with Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company, and global certification company TUV SUD.
The project has allowed HTT to create the first regulatory guidelines and legal framework for Hyperloop systems around the world.
In April, a landmark deal was signed between HTT and Aldar Properties to develop a transport centre and XO Square Innovation Centre for continuing research and development in Abu Dhabi.
Construction of a 10-kilometre Hyperloop transport system will begin in an area between Abu Dhabi and Dubai next year, and the first images of how a commercial station in Abu Dhabi may look have also been released.
The business model for HTT, with scientists and consultants offered a stake in the business in exchange for expertise, is also revolutionary.
The company has achieved in five years what many experts estimated would take 20. And the track design allows for it to run on renewable energy, meaning some systems could one day be cost-neutral.
“Five years ago, we started this incredible journey and we have people working on this project all over the world,” said Andres de Leon, chief operating officer of HTT.
“The engineers and designers have worked closely together, and with freedom to think and make suggestions to improve the capsule.”