With help from a local think tank, a top engineering school and a government innovation agency, Hyperloop technology is coming to South Korea.
A deal signed between a consortium of players will allow the country to begin developing, testing and constructing the early-stage futuristic transportation system.
The agreement was signed between California’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and the South Korean government’s Technological Innovation and Infrastructure department.
A local think tank called Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology as well as a top engineering school, Hanyang University, also signed onto the initiative.
The goal is to make South Korea a “full-scale testbed for the Hyperloop”.
The most interesting part of the agreement is the South Korean stakeholders will receive licenses to use HTT’s proprietary technologies. This includes its levitation and propulsion know-how.
The deal also includes licensing for the construction of the technology (such as the parts and welding) with South Korean talent and resources.
Finally, it will involve the co-development of safety standards and regulations for the industry.
“As the first mover to develop the Hyperloop technology, it is now becoming crucial for us to focus on standardisation for our new and growing industry,” said HTT Chairman Bibop Gresta in a statement.
“After more than three years of development, we’re able to collaborate directly with governments and consortiums to create standards around the world.”
The deal comes in the context of South Korea’s push to built a Hyperloop-based transport system called HyperTube Express (HTX), which would link up the cities of Seoul and Busan.
If it ever comes to pass, the estimation is that it would shorten a three-hour trip between the two cities to just 20 minutes.
For perspective on how fast this ‘train’ would be traveling, the current three-hour trip between the cities (on a hi-speed rail) travels at about 320 kph (200 mph), according to WIRED.
In the official press release, the group enthusiastically announced the, “start of the production of the world’s first full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule”.
This is a fairly outlandish claim. HTT has not tested a prototype anywhere and nobody has proven the system will work. It is similar to a space agency claiming “we have begun the process of sending humans to Mars”.
HTT is currently building the first iteration of its passenger capsules.
Hyperloop is a technology was dreamed up by Elon Musk in 2012. At that point, it read like the stuff out of science fiction novel. But over the past 18-or-so months, the technology has begun to take shape.
Despite my earlier cynicism about the production of a full-scale passenger system, there is a less-than-zero per cent chance we will see Hyperloop integrated into our infrastructure in the decades to come.
In March of 2016, I wrote that Asia had a unique opportunity to be the development center for hyperloop but was dubious that the region would swing at this moonshot. I have been proven wrong as India, Indonesia and now South Korea (as well as private VCs regionally) have invested in developing the system.
Hyperloop Transport Technologies is one of two major Hyperloop players, with Hyperloop One being the other.
A previous version of South Korea is trying to build Hyperloop technology first appeared on e27.
Copyright: unlim3d / 123RF Stock Photo