SkyTran Seattle2 - new head final

My friend Greg Moran, who knows a thing or two about infrastructure,  sent me this fascinating link to SkyTran.  The developers of SkyTran describe the product thus:

SkyTran is the Auto 2.0 or Auto2 – not just auto-mobile but auto-matic. This new-generation vehicle holds two passengers and weighs just 200 pounds empty. It moves on lightweight “guideways” one-foot wide and 20-30 feet above the ground, riding on magnetic levitation (“maglev”) coils inside the guideway instead of wheels. Because vehicles floating on a magnetic field can switch on and off the guideway easily, there will be stations every few blocks – or several per block in busy areas – little platforms 10′ above the sidewalk or attached to the side of buildings.

GreenTech Media provides a great illustration of what such a system might look like as well:

For a mental picture, think of a magnetic levitation (maglev) trains cross-bred with that thing that shuffles around shirts in a dry cleaner.

The first lines would be along heavy-duty transportation corridors, i.e., delivering passengers from central downtown stations to the airport, or inside the redesigned city of the future. Over time, the lines could be extended to individual homes with parallel tracks for exits. The cable required to propel the vehicle and hold them in the air is only about 18 inches wide and two feet wide, said John Cole, Unimodal’s COO.

“You could install it on standard utility poles. It would require the same gauge [of pole] that would hold up a traffic light,” he said.

(more…)

MagLev

Welcome back to Part 2 of our trip through the highlights of state transportation websites.  Today we’ll go alphabetically from Illinois to Missouri.

Illinois: Ever care to know how bridges are kept free of ice?  Me neither.  But this video of a salt spray truck is wonderfully esoteric.

Indiana: INDOT is full of great information, such as the benefits of rail (e.g. Railroads are a vital component in the nation’s economy. Railroads move over 40 percent of all tonmiles of intercity freight, nearly as much as trucks, barges, and airlines combined)!  However, the coolest part of the site in my opinion is the link to multiple GIS maps of Indiana.

Iowa: I’m a sucker for good maps.  This one of the bike trails of Iowa is full of detail.  I’m tempted to buy a roof rack (and a car) to go riding in Iowa.

Kansas:  The DOT links to the Kansas Transportation Online Community, which has another video, called Behind the Vest, on the lives of highway workers.

Kentucky: A state without much in the way of mass transit — despite two large urban centers — is promoting cleaner air via common sense activities like carpooling and bicycling.

Louisiana: The Department of Transportation and Development has a glossary of terms, including the appropriate alligator cracking.  Other intriguing terms include raveling and California profilograph.

Maine: Ever since I read Travels with Charley Maine has a rustic allure.  However, Maine apparently also has a long railroad history, and it makes you appreciate how old this technology is and what a shame it is that we’ve so underutilized it over the past century.

Maryland:   The region is exploring the possibility of a maglev link between Baltimore and D.C.  Also, the state is giving away free calculators in an effort to get people to calculate the saving in better transportation methods.

Massachusetts: In shocking news, the state reported that public transportation save money, fuel and time for the people and the state.  What do you know?

Michigan: I cannot resist posting these pictures of the famous Mackinac,mackinac dividing the Yoopers from the Trolls.

Minnesota: This will appeal to a small segment of the population, but here is the Duluth public transportation service map.

Mississippi: I am all for anti-litter campaigns, such as the famous “Don’t Mess with Texas.”  However, Myrtle the Turtle?  I’m not so sure about this one.

Missouri: I’m from New Jersey.  Maybe that’s why highway beautification via junkyard concealment seems a tad bit ridiculous.

As airlines seek to combat growing fuel prices by charging passengers for everything from sodas to luggage, Boeing (in what is slightly old news) tested the first hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft in April. Given how much fuel the industry uses, this could be a significant development. Even if commercial airplanes cannot operate on fuel cells alone, the fuel cells could perform important auxiliary functions or help with smaller planes. For those of you like me who barely understand internal combustion, here is the Dept. of Energy’s explanation of fuel cells. (more…)

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