An automated lane on an interstate highway would go a long way to solve the worlds transportation problems and can be done to greatly improve transportation and benefit us all with very little tax money involved. This country has been out front with innovative people and ideas to make lives better for everyone, but in transportation our government has been non receptive to innovation and resistant to change. The President and government should become facilitators to promote new ideas and concepts. There are lots of Engineers, Designers, Inventors and Planners working on their own to come up with ideas and concepts without much guidance and help. The governments primary responsibility is to provide guidelines, criteria and technical support for the solutions and not how to do it. As with The Americans With Disabilies Act, guidelines and checklists were provided but the solutions were left up to the design professionals to come up with better and better ideas.
An non proprietorial example to help us visualize what could be done to solve many of the problems involved with tractor trailers. Separated from other traffic, an automated system could move special smooth sided shipping containers on platforms with steel wheels without flanges running on steel tracks and powered by a linear induction motor with the coils in the roadway and a segmented traction plate on small wheels suspended under the platform keeping the correct gap between the coils and the plates. To keep the primary wheels on track, there would be guide elements that could be selected to switch each platform individually. The aerodynamic containers would form a train behind an aerodynamic nose for the least air resistance and greatest fuel efficiency at high speeds. The train would move at a constant speed. This system could carry 800% more vehicles per hour than an Interstate Highway Lane. Individual Containers/Platforms would enter and exit the train one at a time at full speed. Regenerative breaking would be used while exiting. With this great amount of improvement in carrying capacity. Interstate Highways could easily afford to give up 1 to 2 lanes in both directions to be retrofitted with the automated system. There is a good chance that this system could be built, maintained and operated by a private non profit organization put together by the trucking and shipping industry using moneys received from the users and some initial help from government. Many Airports are non profit but create very large amounts of revenue while providing good service to the public. The system could be added incrementally over existing surfaces on the far left hand lanes.
By removing most tractor trailers from the Interstates to an automated system powered by electricity, the carbon foot print is reduced, safety is increased, shipping costs are reduced and shipping times are shortened.
This could do a great deal to free us from foreign oil. If one automated lane can carry as much truck traffic as an 8 lane interstate, it can handle far more than just trucks. The platforms that carry containers could be made to carry other vehicles that were small enough to fit into a container. Platforms could be fitted so that any vehicle, with only a minor attachment added, could be driven on and locked in place automatically then released at the destination. Even the old family van, that might not make it too far otherwise,could go from the front, then across country powered by electricity and then a short way to the final destination. Trips on an automated system would have to be paid for at the start of the trip. With the greater efficiency of the system it would be less expensive than the cars gas needed and far less polluting. For long distance trips, the vehicles could be driven into a container size capsule which would be aerodynamic, lighted, heated, air conditioned and have other amenities such as outlets, water, kitchenette and toilet. Since it would be streamlined, it could go nearly 200 MPH without too much wind resistance. Even for across the country this could be a very good alternative to air travel for a family or small group, especially since you would have your ground transportation with you.
I hope an enterprising American might take on a project that would establish a nonprofit organization working initially with the trucking industry to design, build and operate an automated duel mode transportation system powered by electricity that would automatically transport shipping containers between shipping terminals and then all other vehicles as described above. Since this would be able to carry 8 times as much as the same number of lanes on an Interstate Highway, replace modified existing lanes would be a very advantageous exchange. Eight of our presidents have proposed energy independence and billions have been spent but we are nowhere.