Hyperloops: New transport mode enabled by the Physical Internet?

Publication, 2017


S. Pfoser, L. Putz, O. Schauer, G. Hauger, M. Wanjek, C. Berkowitsch, R. Schodl, S. Eitler, K. Markvica, M. Prandtstetter - Hyperloops: New transport mode enabled by the Physical Internet? - Proceedings of the Fourth Physical Internet Conference, Graz, Austria, 2017, pp. 210


The hyperloop technology represents a high-speed transportation system which allows carrying passengers as well as cargo in special capsules through tubes. The transport takes place at speeds up to 1220 kilometers per hour. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, an organization dealing with hyperloop projects, characterizes hyperloops as “the physical version of the Internet”. This is due to its high performance potential which is going to innovate physical transportation in a way the internet did to the digital world. Benoit Montreuil stated in the Physical Internet Manifesto (2012) that open infrastructural innovation such as the hyperloop system could be enabled through alignment with the principles of the Physical Internet. Montreuil argues that even if it would be technically feasible to build high-speed infrastructure such as hyperloops, their logistics performance would be impeded due to the insufficiency und unsustainability of current systems. The present work will give an overview how the realization from currently unreachable innovations such as hyperloops can benefit from the paradigms of the Physical Internet and will demonstrate potential synergies between hyperloops and the Physical Internet. Results illustrate that the Physical Internet is a viable solution to encounter transport challenges including higher transport volumes with more frequent and small packages. Hence, the Physical Internet is appropriate to indicate how the hubs and connections of the logistics network, but also the technical layout and engineering of the entire infrastructure must be designed to effectively use infrastructural innovations. It can be therefore concluded that it is advisable to regard the interdependencies between hyperloops and the Physical Internet to introduce both successfully.