At the STEP Conference in Dubai last week, speakers from Uber and Hyperloop sat down to talk about transportation in the city. They agreed on one thing: It must change.
Rob Dearborn, head of Uber’s new Elevate operations outlined the company’s plan to offer on-demand transportation via small electric aircrafts that take off and land vertically, bypassing traffic and producing zero carbon emissions. In the U.S., Uber aircrafts will have to meet aviation safety standards; they also face issues such as limited parking spaces. Dearborn acknowledged that putting helipads on every building is not feasible.
Hyperloop One, built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is a tubular transportation system that is expected to propel passenger pods at up to 760 miles per hour, also without carbon emissions.
“I want you to think about what we do as physical broadband,” says Colin Rhys, creative director at Hyperloop One. “Instead of sending data, we’re sending people in very small packets, directly to their destination.”
Rhys announced that the Hyperloop One would hold its first full trial run within the next 45 to 60 days in Nevada. The tubes, which measure 3.3 meters in diameter, are difficult to install within cities, so Rhys sees a potential partnership with Uber. Hyperloop One could potentially transport passengers to the outskirts of a city, and Uber delivers them to their final destination.
Hyperloop One signed an agreement with the Dubai government in December 2016 to look into connecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is reportedly aiming to start construction on a transportation system in the U.A.E. by 2019.
“I think that the most important competitive advantage in the next decade is going to be strong vision and confident leadership and that leadership works in collaboration with parts of society,” says Noah Raford, the COO of Dubai Future Foundation, adding that it’s the government’s job to take innovative ideas early on, help them grow and make them accessible.
“We walk into meetings here and we don’t have to spend any time convincing them that the technology is feasible,” says Dearborn.