The trend of Tube Systems focuses on next-generation, grade-separated transportation networks that provide unimpeded transit from one place to another via tubes or tube-like systems. These networks rely on existing or new technologies above and below ground to provide a new mode of delivery service.
Tube systems gained widespread public attention when the concept of high-speed ‘hyperloop’ technology hit the mainstream media in 2012. Since then, many private ventures have explored the idea of low-pressure, magnetic propulsion, cultivating an ecosystem of alternative technologies to transport passengers and cargo. Meanwhile, as urban road traffic now continues to worsen, following a pandemic lull, drivers in many major cities are losing over 100 hours annually due to congestion. Tech companies are looking at new non-hyperloop tube ideas to physically separate freight transportation from passenger journeys, decreasing congestion for both. Meanwhile, in an adjacent tech niche, companies are exploring ways to construct transportation tubes cheaper and faster above and below ground. Tube systems will capture more attention as construction costs reduce and as they move from paper to real-world applications.
This trend of Tube Systems has been reintroduced to the DHL Logistics Trend Radar. It was removed in the previous edition as many years of announcements and proposals did not reflect much progress in terms of testing and actual operations, pushing this trend beyond the publication’s 10-year scope. However, in the last couple of years, meaningful advances have occurred, like the first successful trials and government approval of construction plans, so the Tube Systems trend is back, albeit towards the outer edge in terms of realization. As tube technology develops and begins to be integrated in supply chains, these systems will move from a low-impact level to a medium-impact level in logistics.