The HyperTube Express - South Korea's Ambitious Transportation Project

If you’ve travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco, you’d know that it takes about five to six hours for the commute. Now imagine, being able to travel the same distance in just half an hour! Is that possible? Yes, it is. The Hyperloop transportation system does exactly that.

What Is the Hyperloop

The Hyperloop is an advanced transportation concept first proposed by Elon Musk, the man Tesla and aerospace firm SpaceX. Musk known for his innovation and implementation of technology that could change the world, proposed the Hyperloop in response to the bullet train introduced by the California High Speed Rail System. The Hyperloop would be different from the bullet train with its unique reduced-pressure tube and pod-like structure.

Following the train model, the Hyperloop will have a pod-like carrier that will be driven through a reduced-pressure tunnel that would have a near-vacuum environment. Because of the reduced air, the pod will travel at a blazing speed of 700 mph, bypassing airline speeds as well. This would essentially mean, covering a distance of 6 hours in half an hour. The plan sounds great, but there are technical challenges that need to be sorted before the project can take flight. And Musk, already busy with electric cars and network tunnels has not pursued the project and has left it for think tanks to figure out existing problems.

Enters HyperExpress

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, an American crowd collaboration, research company comprising of the world’s big gun engineers has revealed their client – South Korea for whom this transit would be built. The South Korean entities will use HTT’s research and tech expertise to build a full-scale Hyperloop network and infrastructure. Along with the construction, the two teams will also combine to solve safety problems indicated by Musk. The teams will also develop new safety standards and protocols to get the project rolling.

Called the HyperTube Express, the project is backed by the Korean Department of Technological Innovation and Infrastructure with the involvement of the Korean Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology as well as the Hanyang University – which are South Korea’s leading engineering schools. The project will intend to cut down the travel time between Seoul and Busan, bringing it to just under 20 minutes as compared to the initial 3-hour ride.

CEO of HTT, Dirk Ahlborn is all prepped up for the project which was signed in January 2017. The only problem he thinks is the regulation and cooperation from the government. Luckily, because the government itself wants this project to be executed, Ahlborn feels it’s the right time to get this project rolling. He also believes that technology is not a hurdle especially since the groundwork has already been done, showing that hyperloop could be our next great mode of transportation.

The Problem

The problem with the project is that it is a first of its kind. Engineers will have to launch a transportation system that is cost-effective as well as profitable – both of which is no easy feat especially since no one has attempted to create this platform before. The project would be costly and acceptance from the audience may be tricky especially since people are more inclined to travel in established systems as the train and airline rather than a pod in a tube with lightning speed. Despite the challenges, Ahlborn feels motivated as he has the support of the Korean government who can influence bureaucrats of the country to promote the Hyperloop and encourage people to start using it. It may be costly, it may be less-profitable and it may even be a failure, but Ahlborn and the team of engineers of HTT feel it is all worth a try.

Farah tries to keep up with the fast-paced tech world by writing about it. She covers latest tech news and writes informative pieces to help her readers make informed decisions about their tech preferences.