Dubai-based DP World and US-based Virgin Hyperloop One held a high-profile publicity launch of an on-demand high-speed freight transportation system – DP World Cargospeed – on Sunday April 29th on board the Queen Elizabeth II.
DP World Cargospeed aims to deliver freight “at the speed of flight and cheaper than high-speed rail” – closer to the cost of trucking.
Hyperloop entails a pod-like vehicle being propelled through a near-vacuum steel tube, with most of its air removed, at higher than airline speed (a system originally envisioned in the 19th century for underground passenger tube systems).
Hyperloop is said to be capable of top speeds of up to 300 meters/second, making it two to three times faster than high-speed rail. DP World said that the technology facilitated autonomous operations. It is fully electric and could be run using renewable energy and generates zero direct emissions.
Late last year Virgin Hyperloop One named Richard Branson as non-executive Chairman and raised an additional $50m with investments from Caspian Venture Capital and DP World. Branson was present at the launch.
The company said that it had completed its third phase of testing, achieving historic test speeds of nearly 387 km (240 miles) per hour.
DP World Cargospeed systems hopes to transport high-priority, time-sensitive goods, including fresh food, medical supplies and electronics.
Branson said that “the global growth of e-commerce is driving a dramatic shift in both consumer and business behaviour. On-demand deliveries are a novelty today. Tomorrow it will be the expectation”. Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said that “based on McKinsey’s assessment of our technology, Virgin Hyperloop One-enabled supply chains can dramatically impact business bottom lines by reducing both finished goods inventory and required warehouse space by 25%”.