PROPOSAL

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.


All of this traffic could be handled on one automated lane in one hour

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. 


PURPOSE
The purpose of this Blog is to use Industrial Design problem solving methodology to define the problem, develop criteria, concepts, ideas, data and designs for a new and optimum transportation system for this country and possibly around the world. It is hoped that this will have people, from all areas, who are interested in a better form of transportation to comment and contribute. First we needed to determine and define the problems with existing transportation systems. We do not want to build on a faulty foundation. Next we need to develop criteria for the new system that has few or none of these problems. That criterion is now developed and potential solutions have been developed. These are shown after the new concept. From the potential solutions, the following concept was developed.
CEETI has released there report on Duel Mode Transportation and has the following:
The United States wastes over $1.5 billion per day due to inefficiencies in the current highway transportation architecture. This waste includes:

$189 billion per year premium in energy costs due to the 98.5 percent transportation dependence on a single primary fuel (oil);

$230 billion per year due to deaths, injuries, and property damage caused by safety issues;

$64 billion per year due to congestion causing excess fuel consumption and lost productivity;

$17 billion per year due to air emissions;

$33 billion per year in international energy security expenditures; and

$75 billion per year in lost productivity and foregone supply chain improvements that could be enabled by faster, more reliable mobility of people and goods.
A TRANSPORTATION CONCEPT

As long as transportation vehicles have to be powered and carry their fuel, emission and fuel problems will never be fully solved. The best way to get most cars and trucks off the highways would be to give them an alternate system, which would save them time and money without loss of flexibility. What is needed is a new kind of railroad, one that can be entered and exited one unit at the time. It would need a road surface without conventional rails but with a special guide system to guide platforms along the road and to guide it on and off the road at entrance and exit ramps.
The platforms would be in the form of hollow rectangular metal boxes about 18 inches high and the width of a shipping container. They would be in lengths of 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet. They would be propelled by a synchronous linear electric motor with a constant speed and powered from coils in the roadbed. All breaking would be regenerative. At low speed, the platform would ride on 4 light weight stamped, free rolling wheels with very strong polished metal rims with no flanges and low lateral resistance. The wheels will roll on wide flat polished ceramic rails with smooth expansion joints. As the platforms move forward,  the shape of the bottom moving at high speed would provide a lifting force raising them up an inch above the road surface. Aerodynamic covers attached to tops of the shipping containers as well as the shape of the tops of the capsules would provide additional lifting forces.  The platforms would bunch together to form trains where they almost touch each other but are held apart by opposing magnets. Trains going down grades would help power trains going up grades. The road would be banked to match the constant speed. The platform would have guide elements that would be a part of the special guide system and would determine when a unit would exit the system and how it would become part of a train. If no trains were coming soon, a new train could be started. The first platform in a train would be an aerodynamic nose, which would stay with the train until there no platforms behind it. Some platforms would have shipping containers attached with consistent widths and heights but with various lengths. All would have aerodynamic surfaces. Some would carry capsules, much like the containers, but would hold cars vans, small trucks or other similar vehicles. Some capsules would be set up to take passengers only. Capsules would have lighting, heating, cooling, communications, electric power, toilets, drinking water and pleasant durable finishes. The front end of the containers and capsules would have a device to fill the space between train units. For snow, rain and cleaning, as needed, special platforms could be put in the system at intervals that would exit just prior to a new unit entering the system. The road would be in three interconnected lanes with one for each direction and one for maintenance. Entering and exiting the system would be done at terminals. Trucking terminals would be for containers, Passenger and car/truck terminals for capsules. A platform and what it's carrying would enter the system on an entrance ramp and be accelerated at the right time and speed to join at the end of a train. The special guide system would cause a platform to exit the train. The platform would proceed to a terminal. Where any unit would exit the system would be predetermined and charges paid prior to entering the system. If some catastrophic event happened, all trains behind the event would exit the system or be stopped. Just think, no fossil fuel, electricity would be used without batteries, less air resistance, speeds could be greater, vehicles could run into each other, no traffic, no weather problems, no lost baggage, watch TV, get work done and so on.
The above system is for interstate type of travel. A feeder system would be in the form of a network of automated variable and lower speed routes that can coordinate and merge safely with each other. The platforms in this system would be fitted with elements, which can attach a wheeled vehicle automatically to it and there would be no capsules. The driver would determine the destination and pay for the trip, then drive on to the platform and be automatically attached to it. No terminal buildings would be needed. Platforms would automatically exit the feeder system at the programmed destination. The platform would park itself and the vehicle would be released. The driver would drive off. The empty platform would then be ready to receive another vehicle. There would be no toilets or other amenities. If the driver wishes to enter the high-speed long distance system, they would program the nearest terminal of the system they want to enter. The platforms would be the same except for the added element for attaching vehicles. Vehicles may have to be fitted with quick attachment fixtures.






DEFINING THE PROBLEM
EXISTING GROUND TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS
PRESENT PROBLEMS OF HIGHWAYS
SAFETY

ACCIDENTS:
Injuries and deaths (41,000+ US highway deaths annually, 3.2 million people injured in 2002 vehicle crashes)
Property loss and damage (4.2 million crashes in 2002 causing property damage only and over $230 billion cost per year to treat injuries and repair damage due to traffic accidents)
US DOT, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2001.


Contributing factors


Driver errors: Poor training, lack of experience, age, drinking, stoned, aggressive driving, poor judgment, excessive speed, driving too close, fatigue, distraction and lack of concentration. Driver inadequacy is manifested in 1.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles per year.


Solution: Automated system with no drivers.


Weather: Ice, freezing rain, downpours, flooding, snow, high winds, dense smoke and especially sudden fog.


Solution: A system with a guide rail and no need for traction.


Passenger car and tractor truck mix: With the huge difference in size and weight, cars and trucks make a poor match. Trucks cannot stop or maneuver nearly as fast and cars don’t know where the blind spots are. Cars cause by far most of the accidents, but also receive most of the damage and deaths. Disintegrating truck tires are also very dangerous.


Solution: A system that provides for moving containers to help get tractor-trailers off the highways.


UNSAFE CONDITIONS:

Badly designed roads: Older roads were never designed for the amount, type or speed of the traffic they receive and are just unsafe. They are often full of curves that are too tight and there are too many blind curves. Hills are too steep and with few places to pass.


Solution: A good system would provide an alternative for people to get away from bad roads.


Poor road conditions and maintenance projects: Wheels concentrate the vehicles weight in just a few square feet for tractor-trailers and in square inch dimensions for passenger cars. All this concentrated weight is along narrow strips of the road surface degrading roads quickly and causing the need for a lot of disrupting and unsafe repair projects.


Solution: A system that does not use wheels and should not require much maintenance.
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FOSSIL FUEL AND POLLUTION:

OUR PRESENT HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM ALMOST TOTALLY REQUIRES THE USE OF FOSSIL FUEL:


As long as internal combustion engines power trucks and cars and they have to carry the fuel for them, it will have to be primarily fossil fuel. There are a number of factors about the use of fossil fuel that should be considered:


Gasoline is a dangerous material; it explodes easily, is highly combustible and is toxic.


The burning of fossil fuel adds considerable carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. No matter how much pollution control is added to a car, carbon dioxide cannot be removed.


Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas and is changing our environment in ways we do not fully understand.


Transportation accounts for 66% of all carbon monoxide, 38% of all nitrogen oxides, 26% of all volatile organic compounds and 30% of all carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere.


We are burning far more oil than we can produce so we are dependent upon other countries and cartels causing world problems. Terrorism is closely linked to the world need for oil. There are far better uses for oil than to burn it.


The cost of oil is out of our control and a great economic burden to the country and to all of us.


Current oil consumption for transportation is about 27 quadrillion BTUs per year.




Solution: A duel mode system that uses electricity.


INEFFICIENCY

HOW MUCH ENERGY IS LOST FOR THE FOLLOWING?


In making gasoline and diesel fuel from oil:
In transporting the fuel to retailers:
In the internal combustion engine:
In the drive train:
In air resistance at speed:
In rolling resistance of tires:


Solution: A duel mode system as above.


HOW MANY HUMAN HOURS THAT ARE WASTED DRIVING WHICH COULD BE PRODUCTIVE IF THE DRIVING WAS AUTOMATED?


Solution: An automated duel mode system where drivers are free to do whatever works for them.


WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF VEHICLES PER LANE PER HOUR ON THE MOST EFFICIENT HIGHWAY?


Solution: Replace with an automated system that would have a throughput of at least 6,000 cars and trucks per hour per lane. There should be versions that can handle 12,000 or more.


WHAT IS IT FOR THE AVERAGE HIGHWAY?


Solution: Same as above.


CONTRIBUTING FACTORS FOR POOR PERFORMANCE:

Distance Between Vehicles: Vehicles are supposed to keep a safe distance behind the one in front of them of one car length per 10 MPH; therefore each car uses eight car lengths at 70 MPH.


Solution: An automated system could run at a constant speed and all vehicles powered from an outside source. Then no space would be needed between vehicles.


Congestion: Congestion is caused primarily by five conditions.


50% by bottle necks (traffic demands exceeds roadway capacity)
25% by traffic incidents
15% by work zones
10% by weather
5% by poor signal timing


www.highways.org


Congestion on roads results in $ 63 billion per year in wasted fuel and lost productivity in the United States. (Texas Transportation Institute 2004 Urban Mobility Report)


Solution: An automated system with a guide rail and vehicles powered from an outside source with no need for traction and running at a constant speed on a dedicated roadway along with a maintenance roadway would solve all these problems.


DOOR-TO-DOOR TRANSPORTATION:

This is a need both real and perceived. It will never go away. Mass transit fails even when it is far less expensive and where people have to spend more than they can really afford on cars, insurance and fuel. Most people feel it is a necessity, not a luxury, even when it is not fully utilized.


There are a lot of real needs for door-to-door transportation.


Solution: A duel mode system that can accept any form of medium to small vehicle ever made with no or only minimum modifications.


AERODYNAMIC DRAG

COST OF AERODYNAMIC DRAG: ABOUT 60% of the power required to cruise at highway speed is taken up overcoming air drag, and this increases very quickly at high speed. Therefore, a vehicle with substantially better aerodynamics will be much more fuel-efficient. Drag increases with the square of the speed.
CdA sq.ft.


Tractor Trailers: 26.5
SUVs: 10.7
Vans: 6.96
Sports cars: 5.92


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_coefficient

Solution: If all vehicles were to be carried in capsules with the same cross section as shipping containers and have aerodynamic surfaces, both containers and capsules could form closely coupled trains that would have a very low aerodynamic drag.


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

LIMITED ACCESS: Limited access roads limit access across them or are very expensive to build. They are like building canals, or walls across the landscape with few ways across them. The wider they get the more costly it becomes to provide access across them. As more and more roads are needed for more vehicles, more of the landscape will be used to solve the problem unless the system can be more efficient with far greater throughput.


Automated, more efficient systems will have to be totally separated from other traffic or it will have all of the problems such as safety associated with existing highway traffic. Therefore all automated systems will have to have their won limited access roadways.


Solution: Any new system should be designed to have far greater throughput than our present system and therefore reduce the environmental impact and take care of future growth.


CONGESTION CONCENTRATES POLUTION: Cars and trucks stalled in traffic continue to burn fuel and pollute and accelerating ones really pollute. Stop and go traffic may be the greatest polluters since the distance between vehicles is not much more than one vehicle length.


Solution: If a new system is powered with electricity, it should be non polluting.


RAISED ROADWAYS allow access under them but are far more expensive to build and maintain. They disturb the view for long distances. They are more hazardous in high winds and freeze like bridges before land level roadways. Earthquakes can be disastrous and deadly.


Solution:


ACCESSABILITY

People with disabilities, people who can’t drive or shouldn’t drive, people who can’t drive long distances, people who are afraid to drive but need to go places with lots of belongings and equipment.


Solution: A new system should be capable of having a very large number of access points at modest costs.





DEVELOPING CRITERIA AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS

First we need to develop general criteria and then potential solutions that meet one or more of the criteria. These suggested solutions should be evaluated with positive and negative aspects identified. As possible solutions for various criteria are assembled, they must also be evaluated to see how they can fit together to form a system.

I will start with some of my ideas for criteria and hope you and I can go from there. This is open to anyone so please add your comments. If you are not a blogger member you will have to join (it’s free). The people contributing to this project will be duly credited



As long as transportation vehicles have to be self-powered and carry their own fuel, emission and fuel problems will never be fully resolved. To get most cars and trucks off the interstate highways, would be to give them an alternative system which would save them time and money without loss of flexibility. At some point, just improving on the old system by evolutionary modifications will not lead you to a much better system and certainly not the very best system possible.



WHAT A SYSTEM SHOULD DO
(CRITERIA)
  1. A new system should be much more efficient, faster, safer, cleaner and not be dependent on fossil fuel.
  2. It must also save money while being flexible with time, locations, and types of vehicles it can accommodate.
  3. It should be able to carry individual passengers without barriers for the disabled.
  4. The ride should be smooth, quiet, safe and comfortable, with heat, air conditioning, good lighting, water and toilets.
  5. It should be able to carry cars, recreational vehicles and small to medium trucks with people and belongings in them.
  6. It should be able to carry freight 24 hours a day and reach specified destinations without drivers.
  7. The entire system should run autonomously.
  8. It should be compatible with and enhance existing transportation systems.
  9. It should use a minimum amount of land and not pollute the landscape visually or with noise.
  10. The system should be designed to resist wear and decay.
  11. It should be easily maintained with almost no interruption in service for repairs and upkeep.
  12. The system should be able to be built incrementally with full functionality.
  13. The system should be capable of expanding easily without much modification to that already built.
  14. A system must be able to solve the multiple problems of cities, between cities, the countryside and cross-country; it must be able to operate in several modes.
  15. It should be so energy and cost effective that it should be less expensive to use while still paying for its construction and maintenance from fees charged.
  16. The system should have very high throughput, handling very large volumes of traffic without congestion or slowing down.
  17. The energy used to power the system should be from renewable energy sources, as much as possible, and with a minimum amount of energy needed to process and deliver.
  18. The system should be very aerodynamic.
  19. The system should be able to move at very high speeds.
  20. The system should be able to attach to any wheeled vehicle, with an adapter, automatically, quickly and without assistance.
CRITERIA FOR A TRAIN

21. The train should have cars that are individually propelled.
22. The cars should be able to be added or removed safely while the train is moving at full speed.
23. The cars should be able to be added or removed at frequent locations along the train’s route.


POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS TO MEET CRITERIA


CRITERIA: A new system should be much more efficient, faster, safer, cleaner and not be dependent on fossil fuel.


SOLUTION: The system will run on its own roadbed separate from all other traffic. It will be in the form of a train to achieve maximum density and better aerodynamics. It will be powered by linear motors, which run on electricity and are powered from the roadbed.


CRITERIA: It must also save money while being flexible with time, locations, and types of vehicles it can accommodate.


SOLUTION: It will be a train in which an element can be added or removed at frequent locations along its rout while the train is moving at full speed.


CRITERIA: It should be able to carry individual passengers without barriers for the disabled.


SOLUTION: It will carry passenger units in which people can enter and exit on the same level without any gaps. The units will have an accessible restroom and amenities. They will be well lighted and signed. Seating will be easy to get to as well as get in and out of, even for wheelchair transfers.


CRITERIA: The ride should be smooth, quiet, safe and comfortable, with heat, air conditioning, good lighting, water and toilets.


SOLUTION: The train will be based on controlled lift passive ground effects platforms, which become half of the linear motor. By using ground effects, the platforms will float above the roadbed very smoothly and quietly. The passenger units attached to the platforms will all be insulated and have heat, air conditioning, good lighting, water and toilets.


CRITERIA: It should be able to carry cars, recreational vehicles and small to medium trucks with people and belongings in them.

SOLUTION: It will have platforms that can be fitted with capsules that will hold cars, recreational vehicles and small to medium trucks with people and belongings in them.

CRITERIA: It should be able to carry freight 24 hours a day and reach specified destinations without drivers.

SOLUTION: It will have platforms that can hold and carry standard shipping containers.

CRITERIA: The entire system should run autonomously.

SOLUTION: Redundant computer controls will guide all platforms to a pre-determined destination safely. And control all functions that make the system work properly.

CRITERIA: It should be compatible with and enhance existing transportation systems.

SOLUTION: The system will be able to carry most wheeled vehicles except tractor-trailers. It will be able to carry shipping containers that are carried on tractor-trailers and get most big trucks off the highways, making the existing highways far safer and less congested.

CRITERIA: It should use a minimum amount of land and not pollute the landscape visually or with noise.

SOLUTION: Where it is feasible, roadbeds will utilize existing rights of way, especially where loads on those highways are reduced by the system and land can be given up.

CRITERIA: The system should be designed to resist wear and decay.

SOLUTION: A system utilizing a form of ground effects and some maglev would cause the least amount of wear. Nothing touches the roadbed. With linear motors, there are very few moving parts. The materials used in the construction must be as maintenance free as possible.


CRITERIA: It should be easily maintained with almost no interruption in service for repairs and upkeep.

SOLUTION: Incorporating a third interconnecting roadbed which can function the same as the other two but in both directions, will allow one or the other roadbeds to be shut down for necessary repairs, maintenance and upgrades.

CRITERIA: The system should be able to be built incrementally with full functionality.

SOLUTION: The system lends itself to being built in modules with many components made in a factory and shipped on the system.

CRITERIA: The system should be capable of expanding easily without much modification to that already built.

SOLUTION: Good engineering with all the criteria in mind can easily solve these problems.

CRITERIA: A system must be able to solve the multiple problems of cities, between cities, the countryside and cross-country, it must be able to operate in several modes.

SOLUTION: This system solves all of the problems except the city and that needs a lot more work, but we can't hold up everything until that is solved.

CRITERIA: It should be so energy and cost effective that it should be less expensive to use while still paying for its construction and maintenance from fees charged.

SOLUTION: Units moving as a train is far more aerodynamic than cars and trucks are now. The linear motor much more efficient than internal combustion motors and their drive trains. Moving with ground effects is also less resistant than tires on a road. Resources need to be spent to determine how efficient this system will be and how much the total costs are for the existing system. Some ideas must be develop for construction, operations and maintenance costs.

CRITERIA: The system should have very high throughput, handling very large volumes of traffic without congestion or slowing down.

SOLUTION: Since this system operates as a train, units are very close together providing greater density of vehicles and leaving gaps for inserting more units. The system will run at a constant speed and never stop. Units can join and leave the train at stations anywhere along the system while the train is running at full speed. The trains all run on their right of was with no interference from other traffic. The high-speed system can handle about 21,ooo units an hour while the lower speed system can handle about 10,500 units an hour.

CRITERIA: The energy used to power the system should be from renewable energy sources, as much as possible, and with a minimum amount of energy needed to process and deliver.

SOLUTION: Electricity is available everywhere the system would go. It can be generated by nonpolitical solar, wind, tide and wave action. It can also be generated with renewable fuels. In the future, fusion may be available.

CRITERIA: The system should be very aerodynamic.

SOLUTION: For a system to be the most aerodynamic, it must be in the form of a train. The containers and capsules will have aerodynamic surfaces. They will have constant cross section and smooth transitions. Standard shipping containers may need to have add on and removable sides and top panels to make them aerodynamic while they are part of a train.

CRITERIA: The system should be able to move at very high speeds.

SOLUTION: With the system in the form of a train with an aerodynamic nose and cars, low resistance ground effects support and a linear motor, it will be able to go at least 170 miles per hour with an acceptable air resistance.

CRITERIA: The system should be able to attach to any wheeled vehicle, with an adapter, automatically, quickly and without assistance.

SOLUTION: An attachment that fits onto a platform will automatically attach itself to a wheeled vehicle when it is driven on to the attachment element and platform, after the trip has been programmed and paid for. At the destination, the vehicle will be automatically released.


CRITERIA: The train should have cars that are individually propelled.

SOLUTION: Each car will be propelled by a synchronous linear motor with the coils in the roadbed. There would be no moving parts in the cars propulsion system to wear out, to need maintaining or lubricating. There should be high enough volume of traffic to pay for the coils along the entire system.

PRO: There would be no moving parts in the cars propulsion system to wear out, to need maintaining or lubricating.

CON: There would have to be high enough volume of traffic to pay for the coils along the entire system.

CRITERIA: The cars should be able to be added or removed safely from the train while the train is moving at full speed.

SOLUTION: Since the system does not require expensive methods to add and remove platforms, it will not be prohibitively expensive to have frequent stations. Since the feeder system has no capsules and cars and trucks are added automatically, the interchanges can be very close together.

CRITERIA: The cars should be able to be added or removed at frequent locations along the train’s route.

SOLUTION:  Have a system where elements can be pulled out of the system individually and elements can be added behind any element in the system where there is enough space to do it safely.




NEED EXPERT HELP ON THE FOLLOWING

AERODYNAMICS: On a train with a nose with optimum aerodynamics and the height and with of a semi-trailer, what would be the drag factor of the nose and first car with smooth sides and the same cross section? What would be the drag factor for each car in the train that followed, considering there is a car after each that is smooth and with the exact same cross section? If the spaces between cars was fully enclosed and flush with all sides, how aerodynamic would a train a mile long be?  What shapes are best needed to provide the lift using ground effects?

THOUGHTS ON THE APPROACH

FEASIBILITY: For the system to be economically feasible, it must work very well at carrying freight. The best way, I think, to handle freight is to be able to easily carry shipping containers that can be transferred from and to tractor-trailers at terminals along the system rout. Freight could be shipped around the country to a predetermined terminal without the need for a driver, a tractor burning diesel fuel, the weight of the tractor and other trailer components. The aerodynamics and economy of the system should be far better than individual trucks.

SUMMARY OF CONCEPTS

MULTI-MODES: There should be at least 3 system modes. A very accessible feeder system for shorter distances that would form a web of routes spread out into the countryside. The second system would be much faster and more aerodynamic for travel over longer distances with greater amenities but with fewer access points. The third system would be even faster and even more aerodynamic for cross-country travel. All systems would compliment each other.

ELEMENTS COMMON TO ALL SYSTEMS

WHAT FORM: A train without conventional rails but flat smooth metal surfaces and composed of individually powered units that can enter and exit the train independently.

ENERGY SYSTEM: Electricity

PROPULSION: Linear synchronous induction motors. The stator coils would be built into the roadbed and the reaction plate part of the platform. The coils would be energized just prior to a platform or train arrives and stays on until there are no platforms for a while.

SUPPORT SYSTEM: Ground effects using special design platform that will be part of the linear motor and carry loads in shipping containers, custom capsules and wheeled vehicles.

THE PLATFORMS: The platform would consist of a hollow rectangular steel box with an adaptable bottom, a foot and a half or so high and as wide as a shipping container. It would come in lengths of 20+, 30+ and 40+ feet. The bottom would be shaped to provide lift at high speed causing it to fly a few inches above the road surface. The wheels would support it when there was little or no forward speed. Coils in the platform would provide electricity as they pass over magnets in the roadbed. Batteries would be required to provide energy when the platform was not moving forward.

The reaction plate of the linear induction motor is part of the platform and would be made in segments that move toward the rear of the platform in a tank tread fashion at times when the platform needs to move faster than the train to fill in a space. The reaction plate unit would be suspended from the platform and held just above the coils in the roadbed.

It would have attachment devices for shipping containers, capsules and wheeled vehicles. Guidance and switching elements would be built into the platform as well as electronic components. The platforms would have to move in either direction with equal ease.

PLATFORM ON WHEELS: A typical platform would be supported on wheels that would be independently suspend without the need for steering, brakes or tires since traction is not needed but would be in the way. The wheels would be stamped with a very strong, smooth rim without a flange and separated with a rubber bushing. A 10’ long platform would have 4 wheels at the corners near the guide pins. The wheels would roll on flat wide ceramic Pretracks. Longer platforms for carrying heavy loads would have 2 wheels at each corner. The track and wheel rims would be lubricated. The wheels would be lifted from the tracks by an air cushion when it reached speed prior to entering the main system.

TRACK CLEANING: A platform carrying a special capsule would be sent out as needed to keep the roadbed and guide channels free of excess water, ice, snow, debris and dirt. They would enter and leave the system as often and for as long as needed. All train nose units would also perform this same duty.

TRAIN SCHEDULES: There would be no schedules. Trains would run grow and shrink as needed. A new train can be started whenever the next train is a specified minimum distance away. When a nose section ends up alone, it will exit at a terminal. Trains move constantly as long as they are trains.

GUIDE SYSTEM: Sixteen inch high pre-cast vertical concrete channels run along each side of each lane continuously except at exit ramps where the right hand channel will follow the ramp to a terminal or other entrance interface then back on an entrance ramp and continue along the right side of the roadbed to the next exit ramp and so on.

The top flange will limit how high the platform can "fly". The platform cannot be blown over or turn over. Each platform is captured by the system by the parallel channels.

At each of the four corners of a platform there would be an aerodynamic "wing" that would "fly an inch off the vertical side of the channel holding the platform in the center of the roadbed. The "wings" can be moved up and down a few inches and controlled by the programed platform. The streight ahead position is at the top of the channel.

SWITCHING SYSTEM: At each exit ramp (prior to the ramp) a steel plate will be attached to the top flange of the left side channel hanging down 2"and to the bottom flange of the right side channel sticking up 2". When the program in the platform determines that this is the correct exit and prior to the exit, a mechanism inside the platform lowers the "wing" to the bottom of the channel. The steel plate at the top of the left side keeps the continuing platform in the system. The steel plate on the bottom flange pulls the exiting platform out of the system and up the ramp. Upon entering the system, a ramp on the bottom flange lifts the "wing" back into the up position. A toggle in the platform moves the "wing" a little higher for clearance.

CHANGING ROUTS WITHIN A SYSTEM: If a platform needs to switch to another rout it will exit at an interchange with that rout for the direction it needs to go. That exit ramp will merge and run parallel to the exit ramp from the opposite direction. They then become variable speed entrance ramps to the new rout. As they run parallel to each other and to the new rout, the platforms on the entrance ramps slow down and adjust their positions in order to fit like cogs in gears to mesh with spaces between each other and at the end of trains in the new rout. These entrance ramps will need to be several miles long to provide for the adjustments to be made.

SYSTEM A

TYPE OF SYSTEM: A short distance duel mode automated high-speed comprehensive limited access feeder system with very frequent access points.

WHAT WILL IT CARRY: It would have attachment devices for shipping containers and wheeled vehicles. Guidance and switching elements would be built into the platform as well as electronic components.

The platforms in this system, except for freight, would be fitted with elements, which can attach a standard wheeled vehicle automatically to it and there would be no capsules. The platform, which can go equally well in both directions.

This device will be a rack that will guide a vehicle on and support it during the ride. Simple fittings already on the vehicle will be used to automatically couple the vehicle, front and back, to the rack. The vehicle will be driven forward onto and off of the attachment in the feeder system. Vehicles will not have to be special designs for use with the system. The fittings would be very simple loops like those for towing. They would have permanent RFID tags to provide information to the coupling devices.

SPEED: High speed system, 90 miles per hour constant speed. Platforms will never stop moving or change speed except when exiting the system.  At 90 mph a platform can go 45 miles in 30 minutes with no delays.

THROUGHPUT: High speed system, around 6,000 cars and trucks per hour per lane.

THE PLATFORMS: In this system when the platform has reached its destination, the vehicle would be released and it can be driven forward off the platform.  All platforms will have 4 wheels constructed of steel stampings and extremely strong, flat, smooth steel rims with no flanges.

ENCLOSURE UNIT: Since there are no capsules in this system, a 10’ long enclosure unit would be needed for non-enclosed vehicles and people without vehicles. They would be used for bicycles, scooters and sometimes motorcycles. They would have very simple rugged seating for short distances. These units could be reserved to be at a given location at a given time. Some entrance areas could have them available most of the time if the need were there. These enclosures would need to open at each end. They should be very low maintenance.

ROADWAY: This system can be built as a modification to existing interstate highways using the left hand lanes. Two lanes together provide enough space for the 3 lanes needed for this system. New exit and entrance ramps would be needed for the system. They would go over the top of the other lanes. Precision manufactured elements with stator coils and guide chanels will be attached to the substrate with leveling and adjustment devices.

Additional roadway would be built much like an interstate with limited access but would be no wider than a 2-lane road with shoulders.

ENTRANCE CHECK-IN AND EXIT AREAS: The area would be much like two level parking lots, a lower level for platforms only and a raised level even with the top of the platforms and attachment device for vehicles.

A driver would go to an automatic check-in booth (ATM like unit), determine length needed and the destination, pay for the trip, get a gate assignment, then drive to the assigned gate with the correct length and programmed platform. The gate would automatically open. The vehicle would be driven on and be automatically attached to the platform

ENTERING THE SYSTEM: A unit, a platform with its load, will enter the system from a terminal or entrance area, after its destination is programmed into the master computer where the rout is determined. The points along the way and the actions to be taken are put into the memory in the platform. The unit will go onto an entrance ramp with its "guide wings" in the down position. When a train is passing, the unit will accelerate to the speed of the train and move in just behind the last unit in the train When it has entered the main line, the ramp in the lower flange will move the "guide wing" to the up position and a toggle will move it up the last little bit for clearance. The "guide wing" will be ready to be lowered for the next programmed exit.  After a new platform has entered the system, the linear motors just ahead of and under the platform will receive its power with a greater frequency than the rest of the system which will cause the platform to move 1 mph faster than the constant speed of the system and move it up to the unit ahead.  At that point the power feed will convert back to the system standard.

LEAVING THE SYSTEM:  According to the rout programmed when the unit entered the system, the "guide wings" may be shifted back and forth several times. At the final destination they will be shifted to the bottom position and the platform will be pulled sideways out of the system and onto the exit ramp and taken to the terminal.

TYPES OF TERMINALS: Freight will be carried in shipping containers and handled in freight terminals owned and operated by trucking companies. Private unmanned mini freight terminals would be scattered all around for shipping companies such as UPS and FED EX where their delivery trucks would unload packages to be delivered in that area. People and wheeled vehicles will be handled in public terminals.

FREIGHT TERMINALS: Only container traffic can exit to a freight terminal, These terminals would have a building with access from the system for platforms with containers on one side and from streets for tractor trailers and other trucks and cars on the other side. The containers could be exchanged or unloaded and reloaded while remaining on the platform.

PASSENGER TERMINALS: There would be no passenger terminals in this system.

SYSTEM B

TYPE OF SYSTEM: A very high-speed, aerodynamic, long distance comprehensive system with terminals and fewer access points

WHAT WILL IT CARRY? Platforms on the very high-speed system will carry shipping containers modified for aerodynamics and specially designed capsules for carrying people, cars, vans, medium and small trucks and recreational vehicles. (Anything that would fit into the back of a tractor-trailer.)  All containers will have an attachable top with lift capability.  All capsules will be built with a top that provides lift.  At speed, the top would lift the container or capsule with its platform, using ground effects, up to where the wheels are an inch above the roadway.

SPEED: 175 miles per hour constant speed. Trains will never stop moving or change speed in the very high-speed system except after exiting the system.

THROUGHPUT: 12,000 cars and trucks per hour per lane.

ROADWAY: A ground level smooth flat durable surface banked on curves to match constant speed. Precision manufactured elements with stator coils and guide slots will be attached to the substrate with leveling and adjustment devices.

GUIDE SYSTEM: Sixteen inch high pre-cast vertical concrete channels run along each side of each lane continuously except at exit ramps where the right hand channel will follow the ramp to a terminal or other entrance interface then back on an entrance ramp and continue along the right side of the roadbed to the next exit ramp and so on.

The top flange will limit how high the platform can "fly". The platform cannot be blown over or turn over. Each platform is captured by the system by the parallel channels.

At each of the four corners of a platform there would be an aerodynamic "guide wing" that would "fly an inch off the vertical side of the channel holding the platform in the center of the roadbed. The "guide wings" can be moved up and down a few inches and controlled by the programed platform. The streight ahead position is at the top of the channel.

ENTERING THE SYSTEM: A unit, a platform with its load, will enter the system from a terminal or entrance area, after its destination is programmed into the master computer where the rout is determined. The points along the way and the actions to be taken are put into the memory in the platform. A unit, a platform with its load, will enter the system from a terminal or entrance area, after its destination is programmed into the master computer where the rout is determined. The points along the way and the actions to be taken are put into the memory in the platform. The unit will go onto an entrance ramp with its "guide wings" in the down position. When a train is passing, the unit will accelerate to the speed of the train and move in just behind the last unit in the train When it has entered the main line, the ramp in the lower flange will move the "guide wing" to the up position and a toggle will move it up the last little bit for clearance. The "guide wing" will be ready to be lowered for the next programmed exit.

LEAVING THE SYSTEM:  According to the rout programmed when the unit entered the system, the "guide wings" may be shifted back and forth several times. At the final destination they will be shifted to the bottom position and the platform will be pulled sideways out of the train and onto the exit ramp and taken to the terminal.  The space left will be filled by the units behind moving up by a change in the power frequency of these units until the space is filled.

TYPES OF TERMINALS: Freight will be carried in shipping containers and handled in freight terminals owned and operated by trucking companies. (All systems) People and wheeled vehicles will be handled at public terminals

Upon exiting the very high-speed system, all platforms with capsules or containers will pass through a procedure that turns them around and they will continue to move rear end first.

FREIGHT TERMINALS: Only trucking traffic could exit to a freight terminal, These terminals would have a building with access from the system for platforms with containers on one side and from streets for tractor trailers other trucks and cars on the other side. The containers could be exchanged or unloaded and reloaded while remaining on the platform.

PASSENGER TERMINAL BUILDING: The passenger terminals will be small with a parking lot. The building would have check in counters and hold room areas with gates much like an airport terminal. The platform with capsule will back up to a gate level with the passenger waiting area.  The capsule will be fitted with seating, restrooms, water, lighting and HVAC.  Passengers will board and exit the capsule from the rear through a door on level with the hold room as with an airplane.

TERMINAL AREA FOR CAPSULES WITH VEHICLES & PASSENGERS: In a parking lot type of area with two levels separated by a chain link fence, platforms with vehicle carrying capsules, on the lower level, will be backed up to a loading dock at a remote controlled gate in a chain link fence. The floor of the capsule would be level with the higher intertwined section. The gate and the door would automatically open allowing the vehicle with passengers to back out and drive off. The capsule would then be cleaned and serviced. Vehicles entering this form of the system would go to a drive up window where their vehicle is checked for height, length, width and weight to make sure it will fit into a capsule and which size needed. The destination is determined and the fee collected. A credit card will be required, much like in renting a car, for security and added fees at the end of the trip. The driver is directed to the proper gate where the correct cleaned and serviced capsule is waiting, the driver goes through the open gate and into the capsule where it would be automatically attached. The capsule door and gate would close and lock.

The platform with loaded capsule would exit the terminal and enter the system.

TYPES OF CONTAINERS: The system will be able to handle all existing types of shipping containers. For use in the very high-speed system, they would have to be fitted with wing shaped top to provide lift and aerodynamic side panels that could be easily and securely attached prior to entering the system and removed after leaving the system. New type containers, which are for ground trucking only, will be constructed like semi-trailers. They will be aerodynamic and optimized for the system while being very suitable for the road only. All containers will have a device that can be securely attached and removed from their front that will fill the space as the one that is part of the capsule. All containers used in the systems would require a lifting top while in a system.

TYPES OF CAPSULES: Capsules will be in 20’, 30’ and 40’ lengths and be very aerodynamic. Each would have amenities such as windows, lighting, heat, air conditioning, cell phone and Internet connections, TV, music, water and toilet. The 20’ and larger ones will be for passengers. The 30’ and 40’ long ones will hold wheeled vehicles and passengers together. These will have devices to safely secure the vehicles. It will be a rack that will guide a vehicle on and support it during the ride. Fittings already on the vehicle will be used to automatically couple the vehicle, front and back, to the rack. The vehicle will be driven forward onto the attachment and backed off. Vehicles will not have to be special designs for use with the system. The fittings would be very simple loops like those for towing. All capsules will be built with aerodynamic sides and aerodynamic lift top.

OTHER ATTACHMENTS: Part of the front of the capsule is a device, which will fill the space between it and the car in front of it in a train forming flush surfaces across the top and down the sides. It will be able to make adjustments for curves and grade changes.

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