Would you ditch your car for one of these systems?
Our "Future Tech" contributing writer Paul Schilperoord, whose recent book on "exciting innovations in transportation" you can order here, addresses today the urban transportation problem and the various ways to efficiently solve it, currently in development or only in concept:
The dream of achieving efficient urban transportation by monorail has been alive since the early 50s:
For decades, city centers and intercity roads have suffered from heavy traffic congestion and air pollution from car emissions. To diminish these effects, governments have tried to get people out of their cars and onto public transport such as trains, trams, buses and metros, as well was using non-polluting bicycles. Unfortunately, this has mostly proven to be unsuccessful.
At least partly to blame here are poor connections between different modes of transport, longer traveling times and delays, as well as a lack of comfort and privacy. Designers and engineers are now exploring new public transport concepts, which are more capable of competing with the car by offering quicker, and in some cases individualized, transportation, as well as introducing a new range of personal city vehicles.
AeroTrain – fascinating transportation hybrid
The Aero-Train is a concept for a zero emission high-speed electric train, which resembles a cross-breed between a high-speed train and an airplane. It all started with Schienenzeppelin:
An alternative to steam power, incorporating the same benefits, was proposed by the German engineer Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. He fitted a BMW aircraft petrol engine with a four-bladed propeller to the back of a specially designed train carriage. Dubbed the Schienenzeppelin, in 1931 this aerodynamically designed prototype vehicle set a world rail speed record of 230 kilometres per hour (143 mph) on a stretch of rails on route between Berlin and Hamburg.
Photo credit: Deutsche Bahn AG
Although the record remained unbeaten until 1954, Kruckenberg’s propeller-driven train was never employed in scheduled service. Instead, the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the 1930s opted for a new line of Diesel-electric locomotives. These were driven by electric motors, but the electricity was generated aboard the train by a diesel engine coupled to a generator. Dubbed the Fliegende Hamburger, these diesel-electric locomotives could achieve speeds close to that of the Schienenzeppelin.
New "Flying Train" prototype:
Apart from aerodynamic drag, trains usually suffer from mechanical resistance in their drive system as well as rolling resistance from the wheels on the track. Researchers at the Kohama Laboratory, Institute of Fluid Science at the Tohoku University in Japan (link) tried to lower overall resistance by adapting another aspect of aerodynamics on its Aero-Train concept. Using the aerodynamic wing-in-ground (WIG) effect, the Aero-Train is able to fly above the track at a height of 10 centimetres (4 in).
The WIG effect occurs when flying very close to the surface. Cruising at its maximum speed of 500 kilometres per hour (310 mph), the aerodynamic lifting force becomes extremely large with a much smaller drag force.
Solar panels are placed on the guide-way’s roof, while wind generators are placed alongside in those places where wind energy is generally available. The generated electricity can be fed to the train directly or stored in its on-board batteries. The researchers expect the system to generate much more energy than is consumed by the Aero-Train, thereby making it double as an electric power plant.
Photocredit: Kohama Laboratory, Institute of Fluid Science, Tohoku University
The next stage in the development is to build a larger Aero-Train prototype with room for six passengers and a maximum operating speed of 350 kilometres per hour (217 mph). The final, full-scale Aero-Train, with a length of 85 metres (279 ft) and seating capacity for 325 passengers, is aimed to begin service in 2020.
DRIVE SYSTEM – Ducted electric fans + WIG-effect
MAXIMUM SPEED – 500 km/h (310 mph)
LENGTH – 85 m (279 ft)
WIDTH – 12 m (40 ft)
WEIGHT – 70 tons (154,300 lbs)
SkyTran – individual maglev system
The American company UniModal Transport Solutions developed a concept for a very high-capacity and high-speed Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) network.
This SkyTran system operates with individual, two-passenger vehicles, which are propelled and suspended by a maglev system from overhead guideways. These are laid out in a one mile by one mile networked grid throughout the city. A large number of small departure and exit portals are placed underneath the guideways at approximately every 400 metres or at every city block.
SkyTran has no fixed routes or timetables. Users can simply enter any departure portal, get into the first empty vehicle in the queue and select their destination. The vehicle then speeds up on the acceleration lane and enters the high-speed overhead guideway.
Photo credit: UniModal Transport Solutions, Inc., all rights reserved
At the selected exit portal, the vehicle enters a deceleration lane where the speed is reduced until it stops at the arrival portal. Individual vehicles are capable of speeds up to 160 kilometres per hour within city limits or 240 kilometres per hour between cities. A very short braking distance allows a distance between traveling vehicles of a mere 25 metres.
ULTra – no waiting line for your personal transport
Another system, called ULTra (Urban Light Transport) and developed by the British company Advanced Transport Systems (ATS), also offers on-demand personal transport with virtually no waiting time to take individual passengers non-stop to their chosen destination. The system operates with a fleet of driverless electric vehicles, running on a network of elevated or ground level guided routes.
The first ULTra (Urban Light Transport) system is actually under
construction at the moment at Heathrow airport in London. It will be
operable in the fall of 2008. A certain Dutch company has recently signed an agreement to introduce ULTra in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The low-floor vehicles have a seating capacity of four, with some additional standing room or space for a wheelchair. Although maximum speed is limited to 40 kilometres per hour, the non-stop service can make trip times two or three times faster than other urban transport.
Photocredit: Advanced Transport Systems (ATS)
Passengers use the system by going to the nearest station on the network. Via a smart card process they select their desired destination. The passenger destination is passed to central control, which in turn sends the nearest available vehicle in the network to the station. According to ATS, simulations demonstrate that waiting times average around 10 seconds. The empty vehicle management system redirects empty vehicles to places with known demand and ensures that batteries are reloaded at a docking station when power is low. The lack of a power supply rail on the track significantly reduces infrastructure costs.
JETPOD: a Flying Taxi
A dream to offer urban commuters airborne transportation has been around for very long time. Here is early "Convair" flying car prototypes:
Photo credit: Henry Dreyfuss Associates
Fast forward to 2007:
Developed by the British company Avcen, the Jetpod is a small twin-jet aircraft with newly developed VQSTOL (Very Quiet Short Take-off and Landing) technology – and it’s aimed to make short-distance air travel possible in built-up urban areas by the year 2010.
According to Avcen studies, there is a considerable demand for the Jetpod. Avcen’s solution to urban traffic congestion is to provide air taxis which shuttle service between an outer city ring of park-and-fly sites and a number of STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) strips within the city centre.
One of the proposed versions of the civil Jetpod T-100 is the City Air Taxi. Other versions include the P-200 Personal Jet, the M-300 Military and the E-400 Ambulance. The T-100 City Air Taxi could be operated as a free-roaming air taxi – with more than fifty landings a day, using a rotation of pilots.
75 Jetpods would service a city the size of London and thereby relieve road traffic of 37,000 return car journeys every day. A one-way flight from outer London to the city centre would take just 4 to 6 minutes. The Jetpod doesn’t even require a conventional runway. It can land on grass, dirt or stone-strewn areas. Avcen designed the Jetpod using the latest jet engine technologies for optimal fuel efficiency and lower emissions noise levels, when compared to car transportation.
DRIVE SYSTEM: Dual jet engines
ENGINE THRUST: 2 x 13.3 kN (3,000 lbs)
CRUISING SPEED: 550 km/h (350 mph)
FLYING RANGE: 1480 km (920 miles)
OPERATING PAYLOAD: 700 kg (1,543 lbs)
SEATING CAPACITY: 7
SkyBlazer: a Roadable aircraft
The highly streamlined four-seating vehicle automatically transforms from a car into an aircraft and back again. With the Skyblazer, the American company Haynes-Aero aims to combine the speed of a jet airplane with the door-to-door convenience of a car.
The self-contained Skyblazer is equipped with a folding arrangement to store the wings completely inside the vehicle body. According to Haynes-Aero, road performance will be adequate enough to operate within normal traffic. With a take-off run of just 405 metres (1,330 ft), the Skyblazer is able to take off from all small airports. After take-off the four wheels collapse into the body shell. The cabin is pressurized and offers similar accommodation as a road car.
DRIVE SYSTEM: Hybrid-electric with jet engine
CRUISING AIR SPEED: 500 km/h (310 mph)
FLYING RANGE: 1345 km (835 miles)
TAKE-OFF RUN: 405 m (1,330 ft)
SEATING CAPACITY: 4
Buses are changing into something radical, too
The Phileas BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) vehicle, developed by the Dutch company Advanced Public Transport Systems (APTS) can drive itself automatically on a dedicated track as well as being manually driven on normal roads. The Phileas system is already in use since 2004. A hybrid-electric drive makes the vehicle up to 30 per cent more fuel efficient than other buses of comparable size.
Photocredit: Advanced Public Transport Systems (APTS)
In semi-automatic mode the driver accelerates and brakes manually, while the vehicle steers itself. In automatic mode all three functions are performed by the vehicle with speeds up to 70 kilometres per hour (44 mph). An electronic guidance system is following the magnetic markers mounted every 4 to 5 metres in the road surface for reference. If deviations of more than half a metre (1.6 ft) occur, either in automatic or semi-automatic mode, the vehicle is automatically stopped.
Finally: A SUPERBUS!
The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is developing another bus, which is able to operate on designated tracks. Superbus is able to operate at very high speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph) and could therefore be an alternative to high-speed railway lines.
This highly streamlined electric bus can also be driven at lower speeds on existing roads and bus lanes. With a length of 15 metres (49.2 ft) and a width of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), the Superbus has similar dimensions to a conventional bus. Due to the seating arrangement without a centre aisle however, the height is just 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). The low aerodynamic drag (less than 0.2) makes the Superbus more efficient than a passenger car.
Exciting Innovations in Transportation
Welcome are new contributing writer (future transportation technologies) Paul Schilperoord, whose book "Future Tech – Innovations in Transportation" was published in 2006 by Octopus Design / Black Dog Publishing and received many enthusiastic reviews. He’s working on the next book already, about some mysterious aspects of German car-making. We are honored to have Paul in our team of writers, with projected monthly features on various cool "future tech".
"Future Tech" aims to present you with a realistic view of the future, based on concepts and prototypes for future vehicles, which are currently in serious development.
We are going to highlight a few examples from each section of the book. You will also see some material not found in the book, provided exclusively for DRB. Our sincere hope is that we are going to see at least some of these concepts mass-produced one day.
The Portugese designer André Costa took another novel approach to ease of city parking and manoeuvring. His design Moovie, made for the 2005 Concours de Design Peugeot, features two huge hub-less side-wheels which are used for both driving and steering.
Each wheel is independently driven by an electric motor, allowing the Moovie to rotate on its own axis and squeeze into the tightest parking spots. To increase stability, the two side-wheels are tilted inwards under a ten degree angle. The front-end conceals two small additional wheels which only operate as safety supports. In the future it could be possible to make such a vehicle self-balancing using gyroscopes and balance sensors. This is already employed on the Segway scooter and is suggested for the EMBRIO one-wheeled motorcycle concept.
The Moovie concept car built by Peugeot has a length of just 2,3 metres (7.6 ft) and width and height of 1,5 metres (4.9 ft). Access is created by two large sliding doors placed in the centre of the hub-less side-wheels.
(images courtesy: André Costa, Peugeot)
Embrio: One-Wheeled Motorcycle
The EMBRIO Advanced Concept is a one-wheeled recreational and commuting vehicle for the year 2025, designed by the Canadian company Bombardier Recreational Products. Although the riding position is similar to that of a motorcycle, the vehicle uses sensors and gyroscopes to balance up to two passengers on a large single wheel whilst driving.
Images courtesy:Bombardier Recreational Products
Although the vehicle will also remain stable when motionless, with two small front wheels deployed at speeds below 20 kilometres per hour (12.5 mph). To move forward, the rider activates a trigger on the left handlebar. At a speed of 20 kilometres per hour (12.5 mph) the front wheels or "landing gear" retracts so the rider is balancing on the large single wheel. To turn the rider leans to the left or right. The brake is activated by a trigger on the right handlebar. Fuel cells running on hydrogen provide electricity for the electric motor which drives the single wheel.
MODEL NAME: EMBRIO Advanced Concept
DEVELOPED BY:Bombardier Recreational Products
DRIVE SYSTEM: Fuel cell electric
LENGTH: 1,240 mm (48.8 in)
WIDTH: 700 mm (27.5 in)
HEIGHT: 1,200 mm (47.5 in)
WEIGHT: 164 kg (360 lbs)
SEATING CAPACITY: 2
Blade Runner: Rail & Road Hybrid
Furthermore an interesting crossbreed between light rail and a bus is the Blade Runner concept, developed by the British company Silvertip Design. The Blade Runner is aimed to reduce traffic congestion as well fuel consumption and pollution by utilizing a dual-mode vehicle concept.
The Blade Runner is equipped with both road wheels with rubber tires as well as retractable rail wheels. This makes it possible for the vehicle to switch between driving on roads and fixed railway tracks embedded in a road surface. When running on such rails, the road wheels still provide the driving and braking power while the weight is carried by the track. This combined system makes the Blade Runner more versatile than a train and more fuel efficient than a truck. The fuel efficiency is due to the lesser rolling resistance between train wheel and track, compared to road-wheels, and improved aerodynamics.
Blade Runner can be configured to run along existing ballasted railway track, but will need additional pavement installed level with the rails for the vehicles to be able to get on and off the system. Embedded rail systems would typically provide access for the vehicles and the traction surface needed for the enhanced performance when approaching junctions. Such a track could be installed down the median of existing highways. For long-distance traveling the Blade Runner can run more efficiently on rails with a saving in fuel consumption of between 20 and 55 per cent, depending on the configuration.
When required, the vehicle can retract the train wheels in order to deviate from the railway and carry on by road to deliver and collect like an ordinary bus or truck. This ability to change from rail to road-mode greatly enhances the versatility of the Blade Runner. The vehicle can travel in automated, guided vehicle convoys or be manually driven.
The Blader Runner is under development by the British company Silvertip Design, which in 2004 built a fully functioning 1:8 scale model and is conduction tests on a specially built track. The project has so far been backed by the British freight trailer and body builder Don-Bur and the British government’s Department of Trade and Industry. Silvertip Design has furthermore built and tested a full sized semi-trailer truck fitted with a steering rear bogie used in the Blade Runner design.
NAME: Blade Runner
DEVELOPED BY: Silvertip Design
STATUS: Concept/functioning model
YEAR: 2004 (model)
DRIVE SYSTEM: Hybrid-electric with Diesel engine (front) + electric motor (rear)
MAXIMUM SPEED: 120 km/h (80 mph)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 14 – 20 l / 100 km (16.7 – 11.8 mpg US)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 15 tonnes (16.5 ton US)
SEATING CAPACITY: 105 (double deck configuration)
70 + 35 standing (single deck configuration)
Images courtesy Silvertip Design.
Moller Skycar: VTOL Flying Car
The Skycar M400 is a flying car prototype which utilizes Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) technology. This makes it possible to take off and land without the use of an airport runway. The American company Moller International envisions a future where flying car owners can simply take to the skies directly from their driveway.
The Skycar M400 has seating capacity for four people, but its design can also be scaled up to the six-seating M600, or scaled down to the single-passenger M100.
The Skycar has a highly streamlined design equipped with four ducted-fan nacelles – two placed on either side of the cockpit. Each nacelle fully encloses the engine and fans and produces both lift and propulsion when airborne. Vertical lift is obtained during takeoff by redirecting the airflow downwards by deflection vanes inside of each nacelle.
Of great importance for the operation of a VTOL machine is a lightweight construction. Therefore the Skycar is constructed for a large part from fibre reinforced plastic composite material.
The Skycar M400 is equipped with eight rotary engines of the Wankel type with multi-fuel capabilities. These engines offer a high power versus weight ratio. For safety reasons four groups of two engines each power the four nacelles. If one engine fails, the fans can be driven by the back-up unit.
In flight the Skycar can achieve a cruising speed of 440 kilometres per hour (275 mph) and a maximum speed of over 600 kilometres per hour (375 mph). On the ground the Skycar is capable to travel short distances as an automobile. Maximum ground speed is limited to approximately 50 kilometres per hour (30 mph).
MODEL NAME: Skycar M-400
DEVELOPED BY: Moller International
DRIVE SYSTEM: Rotary engines
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 11.8 l / 100 km (20 mpg US)
GROUND SPEED: 50 km/h (30 mph)
CRUISING AIR SPEED: 440 km/h (275 mph)
MAXIMUM AIR SPEED: 600 km/h (375 mph)
FLYING RANGE: 1,200 km (750 miles)
FLYING ALTITUDE: 11 km (36,000 ft)
GROSS WEIGHT: 1,090 kg (2,400 lbs)
Images courtesy Moller International.
Powered by sun, wind and waves.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics developed the E/S Orcelle "Zero Emission Ship" concept for a ship which uses no conventional engines, uses no fossil fuels and releases no harmful emissions into the atmosphere or pollution into the sea. Aimed for the year 2025, the E/S Orcelle is powered by the three renewable energy sources available at sea: sun, wind and waves. With the concept, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics wants to showcase what could be achieved given current and future technologies and a world devoid of fossil fuels.
The vessel is equipped with three large sails for wind propulsion. Each sail is constructed of a lightweight composite material and has a surface area of 1400 square metres (15,069 ft2). The rigid sails can be folded upward and outward as well as rotated about the masthead to fix the best position to extract wind energy through the creation of drag force or lift force, or a combination of the two. The front of the sails are fitted with solar cells. Each solar panel has a surface area of 800 square metres (8,611 ft2). When there is little or no wind energy available, the sails can be tilted, laid down or otherwise directed towards the sun for maximum solar energy collection.
The hull of the ship is furthermore fitted with a total of twelve fins, which harness and transform wave energy into hydraulic, electrical or mechanical energy. Each fin has a surface area of 210 square metres (2,260 ft2). The fins can also propel the ship, driven themselves by wave energy or by the electricity or mechanical energy available on board. Approximately half the energy on the E/S Orcelle will be produced by an on-board fuel cell system, which convert hydrogen fuel into electricity. Any additional electricity from the solar cells and fins can also be stored and converted into hydrogen.
Electricity generated by the fins, solar cells and fuel cells is used to power two variable speed electric pod propulsion systems. One pod is fitted at each end of the main hull, replacing the traditional stern propeller and rudder and requiring less power. Each pod houses an electric motor, gearbox and propeller in a single unit able to provide full power and 360-degree maneuvrability.
Besides the streamlined and slender main hull, the E/S Orcelle has four support hulls. In combination with the fins, these support hulls provide extra stability at sea, eliminating the need for the vessel to take on and release ballast water. The ship is made from aluminium and plastic composites. The E/S Orcelle is designed as a car carrier with a capacity of 10,000 cars on its eight cargo decks and a cruising speed of 15 knots (28 km/h or 17 mph).
Ac Aptera: Aerodynamic Three-Wheeler
The American company Accelerated Composites aims to keep the design of its Aptera concept car even closer to an aerodynamic ideal shape. The company claims to be able to achieve a drag coefficient of less than 0.06 using a highly unconventional aerodynamic body shape. Combined with a lightweight composite construction, the Aptera should achieve a fuel consumption as low as 0.7 litres per one hundred kilometres (336 mpg US).
Photos credit: Accelerated Composites
The styling of the Aptera concept car shows more resemblance with airplane than with car design. The car has a wide front with two separate front wheels and a tapered rear section with one, fully enclosed rear wheel. Because of the very low drag, the Aptera is equipped with movable fins on the back to create active aerodynamic stabilization at high speeds.
The Aptera will be equipped with a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system.
The first prototype of the Aptera is under constructed during 2006. Accelerated Composites is planning production in Southern California, which could start as early as 2008.
DRIVE SYSTEM: Parallel hybrid-electric + combustion engine
Diesel engine: 9 kW (12 hp)
Electric motor: 18.6 kW (25 hp)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 0.7 l / 100 km (335 mpg US)
MAXIMUM SPEED: 155 km/h (95 mph)
ACCELERATION 0-97 KM/H (60 MPH): 11 sec.
"Naro / CLEVER" City Car Concepts
The British company Prodrive envisioned a new concept for a vehicle with an enclosed body and the width of a motorcycle. Its concept Naro however has four wheels and works with a tilting mechanism to prevent it from tipping over in curves in the road.
Naro: "NARROW CITY VEHICLE" is a city vehicle designed to diminish the traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas. With its narrow body, the four-wheeled Naro is able to drive through traffic congestions much in the same way as a motorcycle. The two passengers sit behind one and another in the fully enclosed body, which offers a passive safety level comparable to a small modern passenger car. The front-positioned driver however sits higher above ground level and therefore has a better view over the road.
A conventional four-wheeled vehicle with a similar narrow track and high centre of gravity would tend to fall over sideways when turning at high speeds. To avoid this problem, the Naro is equipped with a carving mechanism which makes all four wheels and the body tilt sideways during cornering. The amount of tilt during cornering depends on the driving speed.
Photos credit: Prodrive
Prodrive envisions various applications for the Naro, including a passenger vehicle, city taxi and delivery vehicle. The company has completed a first prototype and is conducting road-tests during 2006.
Another enclosed motorcycle concept is in development by a European consortium, on initiative of the Technical University in Berlin, Institute for Motor Vehicles. This three-wheeled vehicle, named CLEVER (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport), is designed as a city vehicle for two people, which requires little space, has a low weight, a low fuel consumption and low emissions.
The CLEVER (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport) is a compact city vehicle for two people, which requires little space and has a low weight. In turn, the vehicle requires just a small engine in order to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. The CLEVER is under development by a European consortium, on initiative of the Technical University in Berlin, Institute for Motor Vehicles. In 2006 a prototype vehicle was built by the University of Bath in Great Britain.
Photo credit: Institute for Motor Vehicles, Technical University Berlin
The two occupants sit behind one another in the streamlined, narrow cabin. To prevent the danger of tipping over, the cabin of the vehicle is designed to tilt when cornering. The CLEVER is driven by a single-cylinder engine of 230 cc displacement, running on natural gas.
Direct drive with single-cylinder 230 cc engine
POWER OUTPUT: 12.5 kW (17 hp) @ 8,600 rpm
FUEL: Natural gas
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 2.4 l / 100 km (98 mpg US)
ACCELERATION 0 – 60 KM/H (37 MPH): 7.0 sec.
MAXIMUM SPEED: 100 km/h (62 mph)
Vehicles such as the Naro and CLEVER could replace conventional cars for daily commuting. But an implementation problem is that most people would still require a full-sized family car to drive in the weekend and on holidays. This means they would need to invest in the purchase and maintenance of two vehicles. To make this a realistic scenario, the commuting vehicle would have to be cheap enough to purchase and offer great savings on fuel consumption in order to replace the family car as the daily driver.
Also parking of all these extra vehicles is a very relevant issue. The American MTI Medialab believes a solution could be found in a network of its small electric City Cars, which are available to anyone subscribed to the system. No individuals own such a car. They can be found all over the city, efficiently parked in Vehicle Stacks.
City Car Network: Stackable vehicles for dense urban areas
The idea is that these small, electric city vehicles are scattered around the city and available to be used by anyone subscribed to the City Car network. This connects existing public transport networks and allows citizens the use of on-demand individualized mobility.
Potential users can subscribe to the City Car network in order to obtain a swipe card, with which they can get access to any City Car parked at a Vehicle Stack. These would for example be situated near train stations and stops for metro, bus and tram as well as a number of general sites. After use, the City Car can be returned to the nearest Vehicle Stack. A metropolitan city, or a company operating within the city, can own a fleet of City Cars parked on a large number of sites throughout the city. Also urban condominiums and large corporations could have their own Vehicle Stack, which is little more that an assigned parking area equipped with a recharging unit for a stack of City Cars.
Each Vehicle Stack receives incoming vehicles in-line and re-charges the batteries. Users take the first fully charged vehicle available at the front of the stack. The rear wheel arrangement can collapse underneath the vehicle, which will cause the rear of the vehicle cabin to tilt upwards to allow a second vehicle to be stacked tightly against it, similar to luggage carts at the airport.
(images credit: Franco Vairani / Smart Cities group)
The City Car utilizes electric motors and suspension systems integrated into each wheel hub. These so-called Wheel Robots eliminate the need for a conventional drive train configuration with an engine, gearbox and differential. Each Wheel Robot is self-contained and digitally controlled. Together they provide all-wheel power and steering, capable of 360 degrees freedom of movement. This makes omni-directional movement possible.
The City Car is under development by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab in co-operation with General Motors (GM). The final aim of the project is to have GM build a fully functioning prototype.
DRIVE SYSTEM: Direct electric drive with in-wheel motors
MAXIMUM SPEED: 130 – 145 km/h (80 – 90 mph)
DRIVING RANGE: 80 – 320 km (50 – 200 miles)
PALV: Personal Air & Land Vehicle
The PALV (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) is a concept for a flying car, which utilizes autogyro flying technology. In fact, the PALV is a cross-breed between a car, a motorcycle and a gyrocopter, and is designed to eliminate limitations in either flying or driving mode. The vehicle is under development by the Dutch entrepreneur John Bakker in close cooperation with the Dutch company Spark Design Engineering and other partners.
The design of the PALV is based on the three-wheeled road-going production vehicle Carver One from the Dutch company Carver Europe. The Carver One has a fully enclosed cabin with two seats placed behind one another. The rear wheels are incorporated into one unit together with the engine and gearbox. The cabin is attached to the rear unit by a mechanical-hydraulic system. The Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) automatically tilts the cabin, depending on the steering input, speed and acceleration of the vehicle, much like a motorcycle.
The same system and general cabin layout is used for the PALV. On the road, the PALV can reach speeds of 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph).
For flying mode, the vehicle is fitted with a single foldable rotor on top of the cabin, a single foldable push propeller at the rear of the cabin and a foldable tail-wing section. By folding out the rotor blades, propeller and tail-wing section, the PALV is able to take to the skies with autogyro flying technology.
Forward speed is produced by the rear propeller, which is driven by the same engine that drives the wheels in road-mode. Within a takeoff run of just 50 metres (165 ft), the PALV is lifted into the air by the foldable rotor on top of the cabin. This rotor auto-rotates due to the forward speed and generates lift. Because of the slower auto-rotation, as well as the absence of a tail rotor, the PALV is much quieter than a helicopter.