BONN/AMSTERDAM: October 19, 2016. DHL is supporting the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) bid to win Elon Musk's SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition.
While neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk say they are interested in developing a commercial Hyperloop, SpaceX is constructing a test track next to its Hawthorne, California headquarters where students and independent engineering teams will demonstrate their human-scale pods during a competition weekend in January next year.
The Hyperloop competition is prompted by Musk's idea to transport people and goods between high traffic city pairs that are 350 to 900 miles apart at high subsonic speeds through tubes with very low air pressure.
Apart from the technical concept, the SpaceX initiative is completely separate from the Los Angeles-based technology company Hyperloop One that secured US$50 million from DP World this month for research and development.
In August DP World signed a MoU with Hyperloop to analyze the value of using its systems to move containers from Jebel Ali Port to a new inland container depot in Dubai.
DHL says it has contributed to the feasibility of the TU Delft entry by providing the project team with relevant proprietary data on the use of energy and help in building a business case for the technology.
Using carbon fiber, the TU Delft capsule weighs only 149 kilograms, is 4.5 meters long and one meter high. The half-size prototype is expected to reach 400 km per hour on the SpaceX test track and 1,200 km per hour over a greater distance.
Musk says the only criterion for a successful test next year is reaching the target speed and decelerating without crashing. A team from MIT won the competition's initial design phase in January, with TU Delft coming in second place out of 29 submissions.
DHL Express said shipping the Hyperloop prototype to California from the Netherlands required special packing and resolving the cross-border transport of the high-quality technology built with magnets and batteries.
"In our efforts to stay ahead of the curve, DHL is continuously looking at ways in which our own business could be enhanced or renewed over the near and long-term," commented DHL Express CEO Ken Allen.
In addition to Musk, interest in the Hyperloop technology and its eventual commercial application now includes logistics organizations from Russia, the UAE and Europe.