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Transporting people through enclosed vacuum tubes at 1220km/h, hyperloop technology promises to revolutionise the way we travel in the next decade.
Now a British firm of architects plans to transform the way goods are delivered as well as passengers by designing a new generation of pods capable of moving cargo at the speed of flight, but with a fraction of the expense and pollution.
Foster + Partners has teamed up with Virgin Hyperloop One, one of the two consortiums developing the technology, and the ports operator DP World to develop the first intercontinental hyperloop shipping route, connecting Asia, the Middle East and Europe. They hope to have three “production systems” in service by 2021.
“If you look at the history, whenever there’s a new transportation technology, it’s usually the cargo that comes first,” Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners, said. “People want to see the technology proven and now it can be proven through cargo.”
Hyperloop technology uses magnetic levitation to lift and propel small dart-like capsules through a tube containing a near vacuum.
Foster + Partners’ plan would enable delivery from vast warehouses to consumers many hundreds of miles away, without the pollution associated with airfreight, and at much the same price per kilogram as a lorry. Drones would then be used to complete the last leg of the journey and the system would be powered by renewable energy and produce no direct emissions.
A report published last November by the Department for Transport’s science advisory council said that a hyperloop between London and Edinburgh would have a “transformative impact” on the economy and cut journey times between the capital and Scotland to 50 minutes but concluded that technical challenges remained.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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