DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The futuristic city-state of Dubai announced a deal on Tuesday with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One to study the potential for building a line linking it to the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.
The announcement of the deal took place atop the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, with the panorama view of the skyline of this futuristic city-state serving as both a backdrop and a sign of Dubai's desire to be the first to rush toward the future.
However, no financial terms were immediately discussed and the technology itself remains under testing.
A hyperloop has levitating pods powered by electricity and magnetism that hurtle through low-friction pipes at a top speed of 1,220 kph (760 mph). Tesla co-founder Elon Musk first proposed the idea in 2013.
Organizers suggest the Dubai-Abu Dhabi travel time by hyperloop would be only 12 minutes — significantly down from the hour-plus journey it now takes by car between the two cities.
In October, Dubai hosted a competition to design a hyperloop track. In that 48-hour project, designers presented ideas for a possible track between Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, Dubai International Airport and Fujairah International Airport. Under their plans, the hyperloop trip of some 145 kilometers (90 miles) over a mountain range would be 10 minutes or less, compared to the current hour and 20 minutes by road.
The deal announced on Tuesday would be far simpler.
There would be several stations throughout Dubai connecting the hyperloop system to Abu Dhabi. The pods would then be able to carry passengers and cargo between the cities.
Already, government-backed port operator DP World has signed an agreement with Hyperloop One to explore the feasibility of the using the technology at Dubai's sprawling, man-made Jebel Ali Port.