High-speed travel technology is usually associated with ways in which we can move people more quickly from A to B.

But now the shipping industry is getting in on the act, with DP World exploring the possibility of using Hyperloop technology at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, with an initial focus on moving containers from ships docked at DP World's flagship Jebel Ali Port through the Hyperloop tube to an inland container depot in Dubai 29 kilometres away.

"By embracing high-speed containers transportation technology, DP World once again leads other port operators around the world. The project will be a game changer in the future of transportation industry globally," said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, DP World's group chairman and chief executive.

Earlier this year the Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd predicted the UAE would be one of the early adopters of the high-speed technology.

Invented by Elon Musk in 2013, Hyperloop can potentially move containers or up to 40 people in a single capsule at speeds of up to 1,100 kilometres per hour - 89 per cent the speed of sound.

This is a potential time-saver for daily commutes around the world, including the Abu Dhabi-Dubai route, which could be cut to just 15 minutes.

For DP World, it would mean time saved and a profit boost for its customers.

"By eliminating the barriers of time and distance, we believe we can increase the volume of freight DP World moves through the port using a Hyperloop to a new inland depot, which supports more revenue and profit for all stakeholders," said Mr Lloyd.

"A Hyperloop system fits seamlessly with existing transport corridors, minimising any impact on urban Dubai and reducing freeway congestion and emissions."

"We build our investment decisions on our readings of the industry trends and changes," said Mr bin Sulayem. "This project will enable us to deliver competitive features to our customers in terms of speeding their operations, which will significantly increase their returns." The feasibility study will investigate the business case, route options and cost to build and operate the system.

The final product could include Hyperloop tubes submerged underwater to connect Jebel Ali's new island Terminal 4 to onshore destinations, the US company said.

However, DP World last week said that it would be slowing down expansion of Terminal 3 at Jebel Ali Port, and construction of Terminal 4 because of "softer market conditions".

Meanwhile, Dubai Future Foundation this month said it would hold an international competition to design a Hyperloop project allowing people to travel between Dubai and Fujairah in less than 10 minutes.

So far more than 100 participants have enrolled under teams from various engineering and scientific international enterprises.

Source: The National