Branson, DP World Announce Hyperloop Joint Venture

Published Apr 29, 2018 6:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One have created a new global company Cargospeed to provide hyperloop-enabled cargo systems.

DP World and the U.S.-based Virgin Hyperloop One introduced their vision for the future of on demand freight transportation at an event hosted by Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO, and Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman, on board the Queen Elizabeth 2 on Sunday.

The first initiative of its kind in the world, DP World Cargospeed aims to provide exceptional service for high-priority, on-demand goods, delivering freight at the speed of flight and cheaper than high-speed rail: closer to the cost of trucking.

Hyperloop is a futuristic mode of passenger and freight transportation in which a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum steel tube, with most of its air removed, at higher than airline speed. Magnetic levitation technology combined with a low-pressure tube environment enables the pods to move quickly with little friction. 

Hyperloop can achieve top speeds of up to 300 meters/second, making it two to three times faster than high-speed rail. The technology facilitates autonomous operations, says DP World, to reduce human errors and run with minimal delays. It is fully electric, could be run using renewable energy and generates zero direct emissions.

Late last year, Virgin Hyperloop One named Branson as non-executive Chairman and raised an additional $50 million with investments from Caspian Venture Capital and DP World. The company also completed its third phase of testing, achieving historic test speeds of nearly 387 kilometers (240 miles) per hour (107 meters per second).

DP World Cargospeed systems, enabled by Virgin Hyperloop One technology, will transport high-priority, time-sensitive goods including fresh food, medical supplies and electronics. It will be used to expand freight transportation capacity by connecting with existing modes of road, rail and air transport.

“Throughout history, cargo has always been the catalyst for transport revolutions, said Sulayem. “We have made a significant investment in Virgin Hyperloop One because we see the need for a hyperloop-enabled cargo network to support rapid, on-demand deliveries globally.”

Branson also talked of change, saying: “The global growth of e-commerce is driving a dramatic shift in both consumer and business behavior. On-demand deliveries are a novelty today. Tomorrow it will be the expectation. DP World Cargospeed systems powered by Virgin Hyperloop One will enable ultra-fast, on-demand deliveries of high-priority goods and can revolutionize logistics, support economic zones, and create thriving economic mega-regions.”

Rob Lloyd, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “Based on McKinsey’s assessment of our technology, Virgin Hyperloop One-enabled supply chains can dramatically impact business bottom lines by reducing both finished goods inventory and required warehouse space by 25 percent. Collectively, we chose to call our Virgin Hyperloop-enabled cargo solution DP World Cargospeed, because speed is about more than just getting from A to B; it’s about optimizing the entire end-to-end journey. DP World Cargospeed will offer unprecedented customer experience, reliability and the freedom from having to plan too far ahead.”

In February this year, the Indian State of Maharashtra announced plans to build a hyperloop between Pune and Mumbai. Branson announced the framework agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The signing was also attended Sulayem - DP World is one of the project's investors.