If you told us in 2013 that Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept would spawn an entire industry of tunnel-digging lookalikes, we wouldn’t have believed you.
But here we are, five years since Musk first published his mass transit manifesto, and Virgin Hyperloop One — the company backed late last year by Richard Branson — is ready to show the world what the future of transportation may actually look like.
The American company debuted this week a full-scale passenger prototype pod at Dubai’s City Walk Mall that will be used to whisk passengers between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes.
As a reminder, the Hyperloop concept consists of pods that can carry passengers or cargo through nearly airless tubes at speeds over 700 MPH. The pods glide and shoot through the tunnel via magnetic accelerators planted along the length of the tube.
Designed by BMW and overseen by Virgin Hyperloop One and Dubai’s Road Transport Authority, the prototype measures 8.7 meters long and 3.3 meters in diameter, a 1:1 model of the Hyperloop One passenger pod that will eventually go into production.
At first glance, you’ll notice there are no windows. But the concept looks to make up for the lack of scenic views with futuristic interiors and interactive screens and seating, as well as — believe your eyes — ample leg room for every passenger. Dubai RTA director-general Mattar Al Tayer said in a statement that “the Hyperloop boasts deluxe interiors, cutting-edge broadcasting, and display of information and entertainment materials as well as leather seats.”
Head on over to Virgin Hyperloop One for full details.