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Dirk Ahlborn, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, giving a speech on stage of Bosch's IoT conference.
Experts@IoT

“Transportation might be changing more than ever”

Dirk Ahlborn, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Reading time: 6 minutes

Traveling faster than a plane, in a high-tech pod that utilizes Transrapid magnetic levitation rail technology — this is how the Hyperloop project aims to revolutionize transportation. A globally connected team of experts is providing the know-how. Might this business model be the future?

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From San Francisco to Los Angeles in 36 minutes — in a high-tech tube?

The futuristic Hyperloop transit system seeks to make this possible. A high-tech train with white windowless pods, it can take passengers from A to B at speeds of up to 745 miles per hour. The tubes through which its pods are “shot” require pressure conditions similar to those in outer space — these being very close to a vacuum. Coils in the tracks and batteries in the pods enable the pods to float and accelerate of their own accord. “Imagine sending people through something like a pneumatic mail tube,” says Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).

How realistic is this plan?

We have the technology, says Ahlborn. Wind, solar, and kinetic energy can deliver the power required. The Hyperloop would also be profitable: “If we charge 30 dollars a ticket, we’ll be making money in eight years,” he says. The plan could pay off. Today’s energy sources produce surpluses. For example, the energy from solar panels on the Hyperloop tubes which is not needed to operate the trains could be sold. Ahlborn has even more ideas on how to generate income, such as Augmented Reality windows that allow passengers to gaze upon virtual scenery.

“We have the technology for the Hyperloop. However, there are countries like the USA that still have some work to do on their regulatory requirements.”

Dirk Ahlborn, CEO, HTT

An interview with Dirk Ahlborn, an expert on the Hyperloop

When will we be able to ride the Hyperloop?

Whether and when these high-speed trains will link up our cities depends on the countries involved. Progress is somewhat slow in the USA, whereas in Europe, Ahlborn and his team are already planning a route between Vienna and Bratislava. “If the respective governments don’t lend us their support, we don’t have a chance. We’re not talking about money here, but rather about the bureaucratic regulations,” says Ahlborn. Talks are underway with 14 countries. Right now, it’s a matter of convincing naysayers that the Hyperloop can actually bring in money instead of just generating costs.

Who’s on the Hyperloop team?

The original idea came from Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who presented his vision in a white paper in 2013. Dirk Ahlborn saw his opportunity, wanted to support Musk, and founded HTT. Around 800 people from 40 of the world’s largest corporations are currently working on the project — on a voluntary basis. Instead of salaries, there are stock options, flexible work times, and no obligations on where the work is done. As Ahlborn explains, “We’re all motivated by our belief that the Hyperloop will succeed.”

“Digitalization means working together to find out how to innovate and move us forward.”

Dirk Ahlborn, CEO, HTT

How has HTT been able to grow so quickly?

With its radical crowd-sourcing and global collaboration, Ahlborn’s company is attracting the attention of numerous investors and leading thinkers. Engineers from around the world are delivering valuable research, and interested companies are providing valuable contacts. Ahlborn also recruits talented college graduates. Everything is moving very quickly thanks to the ability to work digitally. “We live in a connected world. I can work with the best designers and the most gifted engineers — regardless of where they are located.”

Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HTT

Dirk Ahlborn, a native of Berlin who is a qualified banker, currently lives and works in California. At the age of 19 he quit his job at a bank, and is now CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. This company grew out of a crowd-sourcing platform he runs called JumpStartFund. Ahlborn is known for his ability to think outside the box and encourage trans-national collaboration.

Dirk Ahlborn giving a speech at the Bosch IoT conference.
Dirk Ahlborn's company HTT grew out of his own crowd-sourcing platform

Summary

Dirk Ahlborn is developing the Hyperloop, a pneumatic tube system designed to take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. His project utilizes crowd-sourcing and a new business model — globally connected digital collaboration.

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