Skip to content

THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY IS FAST, GREEN, AND HERE TO STAY

Worldwide, teams of students, professors, and industry leaders are working together to develop vacuum-sealed trains and flying, electric taxis. Chief among them, Germany’s emerging leaders are coming up with solutions to offer electric-powered, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly forms of transportation.
The future of transportation is here, and it has taken the form of high-speed trains in vacuum-sealed tubes. While the idea behind this transportation system emerged in 2013, with Elon Musk and SpaceX, a team of students from Munich are developing their version.

From its humble beginnings as a student-run organisation at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a team of engineers began participating in the worldwide Hyperloop competition in 2015, and eventually won the main prize for creating the fastest pod on the test track. In the last years, the team has managed to set new records and come out on top.


According to the project lead, Gabriele Semino, TUM Hyperloop has attracted close to 60 corporate partners, experts in the field, and 70 students (from 28 countries). This past year, the university announced that the project would be transitioning from student-run to a research group backed by the Bavarian government’s Hightech Agenda Bayern. The next step will involve a full-scale prototype of the pod running on a 24-meter track at Ludwig Bölkow Campus in Taufkirchen.

Clean and Efficient

Since trains are already the best form of transportation in terms of energy consumption, Semino predicts that the technology behind Hyperloop will have a transformative impact on the sustainable transportation industry:

“Preliminary calculations suggest that Hyperloop will be even better than traditional trains while travelling at speeds comparable to planes.”


On a deeper level, TUM Hyperloop is a prime example of the type of collaboration that the European Union needs to encourage to reduce transit-related greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050, as part of the European Green Deal. While Hyperloop is still in the development stage, the technology is already viable – though it needs to be economically appealing to be implemented. Semino explains:

“These solutions must not only be financially competitive with the existing options, the will and fun- ding to actually implement them have to be there. Hyperloop is a large-scale infrastructure project and there is a lot of expertise, cross-disciplinary input, and development required before it can be built. So, even in the development phase, we have to focus on what’s commercially viable. If the system isn’t competitive with current solutions, it won’t be built. The focus has to be on long-term scalability and commercialisation”.
hvfjf
TUM Hyperloop started as a student-run project in 2015, and has since grown into one of the university’s official research programmes. Currently, 5 doctoral students are involved (which will grow to 9 during 2021), and they are working alongside 70 students, and a group of professors on a curricular as well as informal basis.
If the system isn’t competitive with current solutions, it won’t be built. The focus has to be on long-term scalability and commercialisation
Gabriele Semino project lead, TUM Hyperloop

Airborne and green mobility 

Germany has been a pioneer in transportation for over a century – most notably in the automotive industry. There is every reason to believe that the nation will also play a significant role in the future of mobility.
While vacuum-sealed trains and flying taxis might sound like something out of a futurist’s dream, both are being turned into reality in southern Germany. Lilium is developing the fully electric commuter plane, Lilium Jet, which will be capable of shuttling passen- gers between towns as easily as ordering an Uber, not to mention taking off and landing vertically.

Back in 2019 Daniel Wiegand, the co-founder and CEO of Lilium, presented their newest full-sized prototype. Without mincing words, he announced: “We promised the world a 5-seater jet. Today we are delivering on that promise.”
Like many other tech start-ups, the organisation’s 4 co-founders met while studying at the Technical University of Munich and quickly became interested in what Matthias Meiner refers to as “an air mobility revolution.”


TUM Hyperloop and Lilium each have a vision of a faster, greener, and more convenient future for travellers. Not only is Lilium’s jet fully electric and once it’s airborne it can boast a range of 300 kilometres. Lilium’s vision is to transport commuters between cities as soon as 2025, and autonomous flights are slated to follow soon after.

In a time when urbanisation is rapidly changing the way we live and design cities, the mobility revolution and transportation alternatives developed by Hyperloop and Lilium offer exciting possibilities for people who want to live in rural areas yet desire a taste of fast-paced big city living. If cars are no longer the primary mode of transportation in the future, traffic density and air pollution will decrease, and entire countries could see a return to people moving back into rural areas.