British studio Foster + Partners has released a proposal for a futuristic hyperloop freight system that could one day ship cargo from Dubai to Asia and Europe. The renderings and accompanying video were produced in collaboration with Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One, and the resultant system has been christened DP World Cargospeed.
Cargo would be autonomously loaded into autonomously driven pods that appear to closely resemble the passenger pods Virgin revealed in February, and accelerated up to 700 miles per hour using hyperloop technology. The electrically-powered pods are moved through tunnels that have had the air pumped out, removing any wind resistance.
From the video, it seems that Foster + Partners is aiming for an integrated, multi-modal shipping solution. Cargo is unloaded portside and brought into the nearby hyperloop loading area, while trucks, autonomous shuttles, and drones are could be potentially used to handle last-mile delivery. Everything feeds into an electric ecosystem, with solar panels on the hyperloop’s tunnels (and station) feeding the movement below.
The shipping program would be an outgrowth of Virgin’s partnership with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, and the 75-mile-long Dubai-Abu Dhabi hyperloop stretch could be online as soon as 2020. BIG’s concentric transport hubs, one in each city, will eventually anchor the route and house autonomous Virgin shuttles.
While DP World Cargospeed is currently nothing more than a few polished images, with Virgin preparing to lay hyperloop tubes in India, a cross-continental shipping network that latches on to the commuter system could eventually be in the cards.
As the video’s narrator describes it, DP World Cargospeed would start off as a system for high-priority goods ordered on-demand, with the higher cost of shipping offsetting the higher infrastructure costs. Still, Virgin hopes that it can get the cost “as low as trucking, with the speed of air delivery”.