Reinventing the wheel – and logistics

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On January 29, 2017, the Delft Hyperloop team from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands secured top spot in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop competition, which was held in Hawthorne, California. Tim Houter, team captain of the Delft Hyperloop team, explains the thinking behind the Hyperloop project and how it can be used to transform the logistics industry.

Imagine sending a package from Amsterdam to Paris – a distance of more than 500km – and having it arrive in 30 minutes. That’s the future we envision on the Delft Hyperloop team.

The great thing about the Hyperloop project is it allows us to dream big: about a future where a trip from Amsterdam to Paris is as convenient as a train but faster than a plane. We’ve also joined DHL in imagining what Hyperloop could mean for the transport of goods. DHL, after all, has been dreaming of the future of logistics for some time.

By supporting projects and technology that contribute to the logistics of tomorrow – measures that are sustainable, innovative, fast, and efficient – DHL was the perfect partner to not only transport our Hyperloop pod prototype from Amsterdam to Los Angeles, where we’ll put it through tests at Elon Musk’s SpaceX facility, but also for conversations about how Hyperloop could change logistics, which is something that was on our mind from the get go.

The Hyperloop concept involves sending a pod through tubes with very little air resistance at very high speeds. It’s a revolutionary concept, and we believe the logistics industry will be among the first benefactors of Hyperloop.

Overcoming air resistance

Any normal mode of transportation – from a bike to an airplane – is subject to air resistance. In fact, with trains and cars, 90% of the energy used in moving the vehicle goes toward overcoming air resistance. At cruising altitude, planes have less air resistance to overcome, but it still takes lots of energy to get them to that height and maintain speed.

With Hyperloop, this all changes. By removing nearly all the air in the tube where the Hyperloop runs, we not only greatly reduce the energy needed to get the pod up to speed, but we increase the maximum speed to 1,200km/h. That’s faster than a plane, but still on the ground.

The implications for logistics are clear: lower energy costs, fewer carbon emissions (20 times lower than a plane), and a quicker way to transport goods from point A to point B. The fully functioning Hyperloop system could see pods running as frequently as every 30 seconds, meaning there could be a near-constant flow of cargo.

Challenges relating to last-mile delivery would still exist, but DHL has solutions on the horizon for those as well: automated ‘Packstation’ delivery lockers could be installed at every Hyperloop station, or autonomous delivery vehicles could complete the journey.

Click here to continue reading Tim Houter’s blog, Reinventing the wheel – and logistics – with the Delft Hyperloop pod.

January 31, 2017

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