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August 24, 2016 12:15 PM, EDT

Hyperloop Technology to Be Studied for Freight Transportation

DP World
Artist rendering/DP World

The transportation startup Hyperloop will study its electric propulsion tube system technology for moving freight at ports.

Hyperloop said it has partnered with Dubai-based DP World to study the use of the technology to move containers from ships to an inland depot. The study will look at the handling of the containers, costs, benefits, demand and volume patterns of moving cargo using the technology, according to the two companies. 

“A dedicated Hyperloop tube with pods cycling through several times a minute can help DP World free up valuable space on the quay side and relieve Dubai’s roads of congestion. As an all-electric, emission-free technology, a Hyperloop cargo offloader would also eliminate a great deal of carbon emissions and other pollutants,” Bruce Upbin, vice president strategic communications for Hyperloop One, wrote in a blog post.

The Hyperloop system uses electric propulsion to accelerate a passenger or cargo vehicle through a tube in a low-pressure environment. The autonomous vehicle levitates slightly above the track and glides at faster-than-airline speeds over long distances, according to Los Angeles-based Hyperloop.

“This is about testing in real terms how much it costs and how much we can save because, if it works in Dubai, we will do it in Africa, India and across Asia,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World. “I believe in the Hyperloop. I believe it’s the future.”

The company said that for the Dubai project, a Hyperloop tube could tunnel underground or fit within existing rights of way, or “an even bolder solution would include Hyperloop tubes submerged underwater to connect Jebel Ali’s new island Terminal 4 to onshore destinations.”

“The world is changing at a pace never seen before in our history and we intend to be part of a new revolution in transport, connecting markets and economies around the world. This is an example of leading innovation in our industry and pushing the boundaries in the delivery of goods. The potential to use these kind of technologies in emerging markets outside the UAE such as Africa and Asia with large land mass is significant,” DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said in a statement.