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Hyperloop One explores setting up high-speed transport system in Finland, Netherlands, Dubai

Hyperloop One – a company developing the super-speed transport system thought up by Elon Musk – has signed a letter of intent with the governments of Finland and the Netherlands to look into building networks there.

The futuristic transport system works by propelling pods through a large tube at speeds of 750 mph using magnets.

Josh Giegel, president of engineering at Hyperloop One, told CNBC on Thursday, the agreement with Finland will involve exploring a transport system for the Nordic region. Initially it will be from Helsinki to Stockholm in Sweden. And the two parties will also look at connecting the Aland Islands. Giegel said there was no definitive route being looked at in the Netherlands.

The letter of intent will involve Hyperloop One exploring the viability of the project in each country. If the government and Hyperloop One can prove the feasibility of the project, work can begin on a so-called "proof of operations facility" which is likely to involve building the first part of the track.

Part of the attraction of Finland is the availability of tech-savvy talent from companies like Nokia.

"You have got a lot of skilled workers looking for work and the government see it as a chance for high-skilled jobs to stay in the area. They have moved extremely fast. We first met with them in November last year," Giegel told CNBC in an interview at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon.

Concept

The agreements with Finland and the Netherlands come after Hyperloop One struck a similar deal with Dubai. The idea is to connect Abu Dhabi to Dubai in roughly 12 minutes, a journey that could take over 2 hours in a car.

Giegel outlined his vision of how this would work. An app linked to a ride-hailing service like Uber would allow you to call a car to take you to a Hyerploop One station. Once there, a passenger would go to their gate, get in an autonomous driving pod which will then take them to the main Hyperloop capsule that will launch them to their destination. The driverless pod will dock inside the Hyperloop capsule.

A concept rendering showing a Hyperloop One station in the Nordic region.
Hyperloop One
A concept rendering showing a Hyperloop One station in the Nordic region.

In a concept design, Hyperloop showed a circular station that it said would be much smaller and efficient that current train stations.

One concern raised is how travelling at such high speeds will feel. Giegel played down any concern, likening the experience to an airplane.

"Speeds are similar to an airplane, what you feel is sort of like take off on conventional airline. You are designing this so it feels like an elevator - comfortable, very intuitive, very normal," Giegel said.

Hyperloop One's engineering head also said that it would not be priced for the super-rich, though he could not say how much it would cost to build or the price of the ticket.

"That's what this study is meant to get through," Giegel said.

The feasibility study in Dubai will be completed within 12 weeks, but there is no timeline for the other countries.


‘Kitty Hawk moment’

Hyperloop One has raised around $160 million with the latest funding a $50 million round last month.

The company is currently building a test track in a desert in Nevada and did its first demonstration earlier this year.

In 2017, the company is hoping to show off a full-scale Hyperloop system with the aim of having several operational versions of it within in the next five years.