The Dutch start-up Hardt has developed the first functional Hyperloop system in Europe. At Hypermotion and here in an interview, CCO Mars Geuze explains how and from when passengers and goods could be transported at up to 1000 kilometres per hour through tubes
Hardt uses the Hyperloop technology, whereby people and goods are transported through tubes at high speeds. When will Hardt have its first vehicle carrying passengers and goods?
Our test vehicle already transports goods on a test track, which enables us to test all the relevant technologies, but not yet at high speed. We’re in the process of establishing the European Hyperloop Centre. By 2022, it will be possible to achieve speeds of up to 700 km/h in a tube with a smaller diameter on a test section of around 2.5 kilometres. This smaller system is already usable for freight transport. Furthermore, we are currently working with stakeholders from across Europe on the concept of a pilot route that could be put into operation by 2028.
Hyperloop vehicles are mounted on a magnetic field and are electrically driven. How does their energy demand compare with other means of transport?
The energy consumption of our levitation technology is extremely low: a tonne of mass can float using the energy of a light bulb. And energy consumption for the drive is also relatively low thanks to the minimal air resistance in the tubes. Taking these factors into account, it can be said that the energy consumption of a Hyperloop is about one tenth of that of an aeroplane per person per kilometre.
How important will the Hyperloop Switch lane change technology developed by your company be in actual use?
Public transport connections never consist of a single route from A to B, but of the entire network made up by these individual routes. Without the possibility of reliably changing lanes at high speed, it would not be possible to create a European network that could function as a competitive alternative to air travel. And although there are other Hyperloop companies in Europe and across the world that are pursuing network ideas, we are the only ones who have developed and tested this technology.
What do you think the role of Hyperloop will be in the mobility mix of the future? Can the technology replace rail travel and flights within Europe?
We will need all the different modes of transport to meet the immense need for mobility. A Hyperloop will not stop at your front door but will be connected with other means of transport such as the train and also with new solutions such as autonomous cars. It's all about integrated mobility solutions. The most important niche we are focusing on is high-speed transport between cities.
A question for you as a private user: what do you associate with “new mobility” and which aspect of digitally driven traffic in large cities appeals most to you personally?
For me, new mobility means being a user and not an owner. Even though I'm a Dutchman, I don’t even own a bike anymore. But I do use bicycles when I need them through sharing services. It’s not so much a question of individual forms of mobility, but more about the flexibility to be able to use a suitable solution at any time and in any place.