Demystifying Hyperloop: A topic recap from the Ohio Conference on Freight

This past week Smart Cincy attended the Ohio Conference on Freight, which was hosted this year by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) in the city of Cincinnati. The Ohio Conference on Freight is the Midwest’s leading freight conference, convening professionals from across North America to share their expertise in the areas of supply chain/logistics, smart transportation technology and federal and state policies supporting freight-related transportation and economic development.

Within the smart transportation technology theme, Smart Cincy Founder and Venture Smarter CEO, Zack Huhn, was invited to speak on a panel dedicated to demystifying hyperloop technology and to also moderate a panel exploring the pros and cons of autonomous transportation systems.


The panel on Hyperloop was focused on answering the questions: Why Hyperloop? How does this technology work? And will these systems live up to the hype?  Smart Cincy partners and representatives from Venture Smarter, Drive Ohio, the University of Cincinnati (UC), the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) convened to address these prompts.

Dr. Shaaban Abdallah, Professor of Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics at the University of Cincinnati, provided a useful set of baseline explanations of the technology for attendees. He described hyperloops as a fifth mode of transportation (after automobiles, planes, trains, and boats) that is not subject to weather conditions due to the fully enclosed tube in which the hyperloop pods travel. These pods, which are expected to move more freight than humans in the near future as the technology matures, are being designed to move at speeds of 700-800 miles per hour.

Lawrence Hall of NOACA discussed some of the benefits of deploying hyperloops in the context of the Great Lakes "Mega-Region" (a large network of metropolitan regions). Through the use of hyperloops, he said, we have the potential to "support economic development", "preserve existing infrastructure", and "enhance our quality of life".

Dina Lopez of MORPC addressed some of the concerns in the room, "It is natural to be skeptical of new technologies", she said, but went on to remind attendees that many were also leery of adopting trains and railroads when they were first commercialized. Her message was that working together can help to alleviate trepidations. "The American way of not being afraid to collaborate will help this technology to succeed."

Venture Smarter's Zack Huhn left the room with a call to action: "Through these technologies Ohio could create another 'Kitty Hawk' moment, so it is time to plan, forecast, and advocate for effective and scalable solutions."

Are you interested in exploring smart mobility projects in learning about planning efforts in your region?  Connect with these leaders and more this October at the second annual Smart Regions Conference in Columbus, OH.

Among the largest ‘smart cities’ leadership events in North America, the 2018 Smart Regions Conference will convene leaders from all levels of government and across sectors for a dynamic day of programming, including TED-style speakers, power panels, an innovation corridor, the 2018 Smart Infrastructure Challenge project pitches and awards, and much more.  To learn more or register for the event, visit


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