Even though Hyperloop was invented in the United States by an American it might come to fruition in Europe. Simply originating a technology is no guarantee that a region or country will successfully commercialize it.
The automobile was invented in Germany by Otto Benz, first commercialized in France and brought to mass production in the United States. Likewise there is a strong possibility that Europe and not America will lead the world in Hyperloop adoption and development.
There are two Hyperloop test tracks under construction in Europe, one at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands and one in Toulouse, France. There has also been a high level of interest in Hyperloop on the continent.
Major corporations including the German, French and Dutch national railroads and the aerospace giant Airbus are investing in Hyperloop. There has also been strong interest from governments and far more media attention to Hyperloop particularly in the United Kingdom.
Two Hyperloop companies; HTT and Hardt Global Mobility, are basing their operations in Europe. The biggest firm in the business Hyperloop One is planning to develop a testing facility in Europe. Hyperloop One has launched a major European initiative
Why Europe may lead in Hyperloop
There are several reasons why Europe will probably take the lead in Hyperloop technology:
- Europe leads the world in investment in transportation technology and infrastructure. Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd noted that 25% of all European spending for research and development is in transportation. Europe also has four of the top eight countries for advanced infrastructure.
- European railroads are saddled with aging infrastructure that will have to be replaced and rising labor costs.
- Unlike their American counterparts European railways have to carry passengers and serve many smaller less profitable markets.
- Europe is a crowded region with aging and overburdened infrastructure and a serious lack of empty land. A major problem is that much of that infrastructure goes through historic cities and residential areas where nothing can be demolished or disturbed.
- The Europeans are very conscious of the dangers of fossil fuels both global warming and dependence upon politically unstable nations. Europe lacks the military power and oil resources of the United States.
- Europeans are already used to riding high speed trains and investing vast amounts of money of them.
- Europe is going through a serious economic crisis caused partially by an aging population. It is going to need cheaper and more efficient infrastructure in the near future and more projects to serve as stimulus.
- Europe’s present transportation system is inadequate for needs and there is little political support for expansion of traditional modes like rail and highways.
- European governments seem to be more supportive of transportation infrastructure and more willing to invest in it.
Hyperloop One has Big Plans in Europe
Hyperloop One unveiled some big plans for the continent at its Vision for Europe event in Rotterdam.
The plans include 10 Hyperloop Lines, three of them in the United Kingdom and some fairly long, Endgadget reported. The longest of the lines in Germany would 1,991 kilometers in length.
There would also be a 1,060 kilometer line connecting England (presumably Dover) and Scotland. Not to mention a series of loops connecting Germany and the Baltic Nations.
One proposed line running under the Baltic Sea would connect Finland’s capital Helsinki with Estonia’s capital of Estonia. An equally ambitious line running the length and breadth of the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, would run under the Straight of Bonifacio.
Some of these lines would attract a tremendous volume of passengers. Eight million people take the ferry between Helsinki and Tallinn each year.
Hyperloop One Announces Some Big Partnerships
To achieve these goals Hyperloop One is enlisting some high powered corporate help including the engineering firm Ramboll, BIG, the French national railroad SNCF, the German national railroad DB, AECOM, Systra and Parsons.
It looks as if the company is serious about building these lines in Europe. Now we just have to see how serious European governments are about helping it. Hopefully the spectacle of Hyperloops up and running in Europe will kick start the US industry and force American politicians to take action.
Lloyd once again had some interesting thoughts to share about Hyperloop. The former Cisco Systems executive called it broadband for transportation. Predicting that Hyperloop will do for ground transport what internet did for IT make it faster, more efficient and more accessible.
Another Hyperloop executive Nick Earle said the system will move packets of cars, freight and passengers the way internet infrastructure moves packets of information. Earle also pointed out that Hyperloop’s main selling points will be its efficiency and convenience not the speed.
Earle compared present media coverage of Hyperloop to early news stories about broadband. He noted that journalists are obsessed with Hyperloop’s purported speed just as early coverage of broadband focused on the speed. Today, almost coverage focuses on the capabilities of broadband rather than its speed.
Earle predicted a similar development for Hyperloop, in the future the convenience and efficiency will be the system’s selling points. Hopefully Americans will not have to fly to Europe to experience those attributes and see a Made in the USA technological wonder.