Other Cool Ideas

Home » Other Cool Ideas

Here at TEV Project, we like creativity – that’s why we constantly tweet and blog about new tech, projects and government initiatives involving all types of transport.

Here’s a slightly random selection of some cool stuff we like. It’s an eclectic mix, from the famous and well-received to some you may not have heard of. One concept dates back to the 1939 World Fair. All of them were all born of the idea that the world needs more efficient transportation. Expand any title for more info:

Google car

Google car: the most famous automated vehicle

The “Google car” (as it usually called) is a fully-functioning automated vehicle.  Their video shows a man who is blind driving in a suburb in California. The Google car is doing wonders to break the misconception that vehicles driven by software (and not by people) are unsafe or impossible. This is great news for TEV because in fact, TEV electric highway software would be a simpler task to tackle.

In theory Google’s cars could be totally compatible with the TEV electric highway system – so long as the cars are electrically powered of course.  If you owned a Google car, the TEV electric highway network would be your preferred way to travel longer distances.  It would solve problems such as traffic jams and be a protection from bad weather and bad drivers. Also, being all-electric, it would provide the lowest cost carbon-free ride possible.Watch the video (Youtube)

The 3D express coach

3D express coach: a bus like no other

Named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 best inventions of 2010, this creative Chinese concept aims to replace cars without taking up any room on the streets. As quirky as it looks at first glance, a lot of good, solid engineering has gone into the concept, including the use of intermittent charging using super-capacitors to reduce cost per mile.  We love it for its intended application: mass transit in cities. It would be interesting to see it in action. Check out the concept’s wikipedia entry for more details or watch a youtube video describing the design.

The Siemens eHighway

Siemens eHighway electric roadway for trucks

Siemens came up with the eHighway for, as they put it, “electrification of truck and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires similar to how modern day trolleys or streetcars would be powered on many city streets.”  California considered the concept on small sections of the state’s most heavily polluted highway and we here it’s still an ongoing project. This design of an electric roadway would seriously reduce pollution and oil consumption. We think that TEV is more efficient because it is fully robotic, safer in bad weather and probably easier to implement.  Watch the official Siemens video for eHighway here  and see how it works.

RUF System

RUF: the original dual mode concept

Denmark’s RUF concept is one of the earliest dual mode system designs.  The designer of RUF is one of the originators of the dual-mode electric vehicle concept and made a major contribution by bringing attention to these ideas,  triggering a wave of creative effort in this area. One of the great virtues of the RUF system is its very low-cost track design.  The trade-offs for this virtue are the lack of emergency exits from the cars and the need for custom-designed vehicles. Visit the RUF website here

Overland ATS System

Overland ATS dual mode system

This well-engineered idea was developed by Waldemar Kissel of Florida, USA.  The main animation shows large trucks and buses cruising at high speed, safely locked on to an elevated guideway that runs alongside an interstate highway.  These are dual-mode vehicles that use a steel wheel/ steel rail system  on the automatic guideway (to save energy) but also run on rubber tires on normal roads under driver control.  The inventor has included a large body of calculations that demonstrates well just how inefficient ALL of our present transport systems are – especially trains.  www.overlandats.com

Mister PRT

Mister PRT for urban transit

This is a driverless, elevated taxi system for cities based on recirculating pods.  This Polish concept is very well thought out. We see great potential for it in built up areas like cities – for example, New York City, which is built on rock and cannot easily expand its underground transport. Visit the Mister PRT website here

Moving Platforms For High Speed Trains

Moving Platforms by Priestman Goode design agency

British train designer Paul Priestman noted that high-speed trains are not really very fast because they need to stop to transfer passengers. The more station stops, the slower the average speed of the train.  His solution is to have “moving platforms” which are high speed shuttles that can dock with moving high speed trains and exchange passengers on the fly. So, in effect, no stationary platforms are required. While our approach is different, we agree that radical rethinking of today’s transportation is needed and that present high-speed trains don’t have a high passenger carrying capacity due to station stops.  Watch the video about Moving Platforms

BMW's 2011 Self Driving Car

BMW's advanced automated vehicle

If you think that a car having fully automatic controls and running on a dedicated electric highway like TEV is a big technical challenge, here is a normal BMW 3-Series – a production vehicle – going around the Laguna Seca racetrack in California at high speed without any input from the driver at all. Oh, and this was back in 2011. The special electronics control the car in 2-dimensions (speed and lane changing) which makes it vastly more complicated than the straightforward 1-dimensional system required for TEV Electric Highways (no lane changing). Far from being science fiction, the simpler automatic control technology required for TEV vehicles already exists. Watch the car go in this Sunday Times InGear special (Youtube)

The TGV at 357mph

Train à Grande Vitesse

High-speed trains perform a different function from TEV electric vehicles as they are fundamentally inter-city or inter-station expresses rather than flexible point-to-point transport. We love the advanced technology behind them and here is the gorgeous Train à Grande Vitesse during its record-breaking run in France. Note that this speed is not likely ever to be a cruising speed for the TGV, just a special demonstration.  The train does look somewhat scary at this speed, especially the part where it goes under a bridge at the 3.0 minute point on the video: TGV video of record-breaking run (Youtube) 

Bi-modal Glideway

The Bi-modal Guideway dual mode system

Like all bi-modal systems, this design has great advantages over standard roads.  It uses specially designed vehicles with both rubber and auxiliary steel wheels. Its main innovation is a unique, vertical switching design, like an escapement mechanism, between the on/off  ramps and the main track. This allows a vehicle to switch between a main track and a ramp at full speed – but does so in a vertical plane and not on a horozontal plane as TEV does. This is a highly original and patented design. We might suggest some additions such as sidewalks (in case of emergencies) and electric power for the cars, as we imagine they could both easily be incorporated into the design. Visit the Bi-modal Glideway website

Kwiklane Dual Mode System

Kwiklane dual mode concept

Kwiklane has many features in common with our TEV electric highway system  – like the use of normal rubber tired vehicles, automatic checking etc. Unlike TEV it is not electrically powered, however adding direct electric power for EVs/Hybrids to the existing concept would not be difficult. The website features a very defined, self-erecting track which is potentially very economical to build. For the TEV Project we have deliberately used artist’s impressions for the electric highway design as the actual track design will be part of an open source development. Visit the Kwiklane website

Ultra PRT Pods, London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport's Ultra PRT Pods

Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) is an idea that’s been around for a long time – as the video by BBC’s technology show “Click” explains, linked below. It is easier to implement than ever thanks to the software we have today. The pod-style transportation now implemented at London’s Heathrow Airport uses cute, custom rubber-tired vehicles. Vehicles are programmed to go to the user’s destination. A similar system was being considered in Abu Dhabi’s eco-city Masdar. The Heathrow pods aren’t universally admired in the PRT scene, but we like the networked, software-driven and customizable elements of PRT here, which conceptually TEV shares. However the comparisons end there; PRT is generally limited to metropolitan areas or special installations, making them ideal in places like airports, whereas TEV is a practical to roll out everywhere. Watch BBC Click clip

The Original High-Speed Train C.1938

The Mallard steam locomotive

This video show the awesome Mallard steam locomotive that holds the world speed record of 125mph for a passenger train powered by steam.  Modern electric locos only go about 50% faster than this which is not much considering the Mallard ran on old fashioned rails with heavy, non-aerodynamic passenger cars whereas the lightweight, streamlined new electrics run on specially designed high-tech rails with special wheel designs. But look at the pollution from the smokestack! Electric power is best. Watch the Guiness world records clip here (Youtube)

GM Futurama Exhibit, World Fair 1939

GM Futurama exhibit imagining travel in 1960

This is GM’s Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World Fair in New York – a mind blowing projection into their future – defined as 1960!  Note the three segregated lanes for safety and the three different fixed speeds – the fastest being 100mph  for convenience.  That is very advanced. The pioneers who designed this practical arrangement were definitely on the right track (so to speak). However, their design did use up a tremendous amount of space because their technology did not permit the use of automatic, close coupled convoys. By comparison, TEV lanes are much more compact due to electronically controlled convoying of the vehicles: a basic, two lane TEV electric highway, as narrow as a country road, has more capacity than all of these Futurama lanes put together. Also, TEV vehicles are electrically powered. So perhaps we are making some progress…Watch archival coverage of the exhibit from 1939 here (Youtube)