The American research company HyperloopTT unveiled its latest hyperloop technology, an innovative freight capsule system which it claims will revolutionise freight shipping.
The idea, first popularised by Elon Musk and SpaceX engineers over a decade ago, involves using magnetic propulsion to fire pods or trains through a network of tubes at up to 800 miles per hour.
HyperloopTT believes its tech, developed alongside the design consultancy tangerine, can push out traditional high-speed rail systems while operating at a fraction of the cost.
The new Express Freight system, showcased via a nifty animation, gives a glimpse into the potential future for freight shipping, an industry typically plagued by high costs and carbon emissions.
Using a combination of levitating capsules, conveyer belts and vacuum tubes, the contraption allows freight to be quickly loaded up and shot off to new destinations.
The volume of freight held is maximised by lowering the floor of each capsule and adding a pocket door for more internal space.
Andrés de León, chief executive of HyperloopTT said the new technology would “fundamentally transform how goods are transported globally.”
“By incorporating key innovations like fast automated loading systems, maximized freight capacity and flexible configurations, we have developed a hyperloop design optimized for transporting freight at unprecedented speeds at cheaper rates than currently offered by air and road,” he said.
The moves come as the nascent tech is beginning to take off globally. The Independent reported in April that Chinese rail design institutes were considering building a hyperloop train line between Shanghai and Hangzhou.
A report commissioned by the planning firm Transportation Economics Management reckons that the express freight option is cheaper than both air and truck, while the hyperloop industry is expected to grow from $260bn (£212bn) in 2020 to over $484bn in 2030.
In May, HyperloopTT was awarded €800m (£696m) as part of an EU tender to build the first commercial hyperloop in Italy.
Hurdles remain, though. Planning permission and other regulatory hurdles stand in the way of seeing major hyperloop systems firing passengers to destinations at high speed.
In Britain, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said that it would be “at least a couple of decades” before a Hyperloop system could be ready, because of the “scale of the technical challenges involved.”
In a paper outlining his vision, Musk wrote: “It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving.”
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