Video: BIG/Vimeo

Can you picture a future where traveling huge distances takes minutes, not hours? If not, we suggest watching the video above, which shows a commuter making the two-hour journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes. It’s obviously fiction, but a company called Hyperloop One believes it can make it a reality — and soon.

Never heard of Hyperloop One? Let us catch you up. It’s one of a number of companies recently formed to explore Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept. Never heard of that either? Musk, best known for being the brains behind Tesla Motors, came up with it in 2013, then made his findings public so others could develop it — put very simply, it’s the idea that floating pods traveling through nearly airless tubes can transport people long distances at hundreds of miles an hour. The basic line of thought is that less air means less friction, and therefore more speed.

hyperloop one abu dhabi 1

Rendering: Bjarke Ingels Group

hyperloop one abu dhabi 2

Rendering: Bjarke Ingels Group

Got all that? Good. So far, Hyperloop One is the company that’s made the most progress on making the Hyperloop concept a reality — until recently it was looking into a cargo transportation system. Last week, however, the company announced a major update: it’s teamed up with consultant McKinsey & Company and architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group to evaluate the feasibility of using the technology to transport people. The study will look at a United Arab Emirates-based system, and will be funded by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

The system will include stops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as shown in the video above, as well as other undetermined locations. And if all goes as planned, traveling will be almost effortless. Passengers will move quickly through stations to board sleek transportation pods, then briefly relax until they reach their destination. Interestingly, their destination might not be another station — Hyperloop One’s pods will be able to move on regular roads, picking up and dropping off riders at any time. How’s that for service?

hyperloop one station

Rendering: Bjarke Ingels Group

hyperloop one pod

Rendering: Bjarke Ingels Group

If it proves feasible, Hyperloop One’s system will have major consequences not only for public transportation, but also for urban planning. As Bjarke Ingels Group partner Jakob Lange explains in a press release, “Hyperloop is about creating a love for the new possibilities out there. With Hyperloop, city planning can happen far from the city centers as physical distances are virtually eliminated.”

Of course, Hyperloop One will have to deal with a few obstacles before all that can happen. For instance, there’s the matter of its legal battle with several former employees, including co-founder Brogan BamBrogan. There’s also the issue of funding — while Hyperloop One reportedly has $160 million in the bank, it plans to raise millions more next year.

Nevertheless, those involved in the project seem to think it will get there in the end. “We have everything we need,” says Lange.

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