A lot has been going around in the hyperloop technology circles. Over the last month, Virgin Hyperloop had hit the headlines as its chairman Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, stepped down from his position citing lack of time and the need for a more “hands-on chair” to fill his shoes at the company. At the same time, Virgin Hyperloop’s biggest competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has been inching forward through partnerships, and major technology unveils.
Keeping up with that trend, HyperloopTT announced today that it has partnered with the Port of Hamburg terminal operator Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA) to explore the possibilities of hyperloop technology in easing up port operations with regard to cargo movement.
The importance of futuristic technology adoption is not lost on HHLA, as it has consistently remained at the bleeding-edge of port innovations, dating back to the 90s when it was the first company to introduce GPS and automated port operations. Very recently, HHLA announced a collaboration with MAN Trucks to test automated and autonomous trucks on a 43-mile stretch of the A7 motorway, incidentally the longest autobahn in the country.
"With the Hyperloop transport system, HHLA is pursuing the goal of developing an additional component of efficient logistic mobility solutions in Germany," said Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA's Executive Board. "As a gateway to the future, we want to employ innovative approaches to make a contribution towards relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure in and around the Port of Hamburg and to use the capacities of our terminal facilities in an even more efficient way."
HyperloopTT has been at the thick of things, with it unveiling the first look of its full-scale passenger hyperloop capsule a couple of months back, build in association with Airtificial from Spain. The fascinating part of this unveil was HyperloopTT’s Vibranium, a specially made dual-layer smart composite material, with the name an obvious reference to the fictional metal that occurs in the Marvel comic universe.
This capsule has been delivered to HyperloopTT’s R&D center in Toulouse, France where it would undergo further assembly and integration into the system, before being put on what could be the first ever commercial track in Toulouse.
In the more recent collaboration with HHLA, HyperloopTT would start with a reconnaissance at the HHLA container terminal, looking to see if it would be feasible to connect it with the container yards through a cargo-based hyperloop system.
Such a system is expected to reduce congestion within the port and also traffic within the city limits due to drayage operations. As part of the testing phase, a transfer station would be constructed at an HHLA terminal which includes a 110-yard stretch for conveying cargo on hyperloop.
"HHLA has a long history of innovation. Years before we were talking about self-driving vehicles, containers moved autonomously in Hamburg," said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. "Together, we will develop a complete system, that not only concentrates on speed and efficiency, but also takes into account the issues ports face in daily operation."