Personal rapid transit pods as a substitute of enormous buses and trains – The Science Present

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Robyn Williams: With an election due subsequent week in NSW it is instructive to survey the primeval applied sciences Australians put up with: power and energy from coal you burn (very 19th century); city site visitors that prices you greater than $15 billion a 12 months in gridlock and wasted time, about ten occasions the flood levy; and trains that may be a humiliation in Bongo-Bongo Land. Trond Andresen took the practice from Newcastle NSW and sat on it for over three hours, a visit that may take 40 minutes in Europe. Trond is a management engineer from the Norwegian College of Science and Expertise, and he’s now on sabbatical on the College of Newcastle. He has a proposal for a transport system in Sydney, or any huge Australian metropolis, that reminds you of the Jetsons or another futuristic dream. One factor that is sure, it will not characteristic within the election.

Trond Andresen: Assume that you just get the electrical energy from a coal-fired energy plant, the power consumption can be round 50 and 100 watt hours per kilometre, and I am speaking at full pace, 240km/h so the power effectivity per passenger is on par with the TVG, the French high-speed rail and that form of railway is extra economical than the old-time, clunky, sluggish railway.

Robyn Williams: Clunky, sluggish railway, versus Trond Andresen’s imaginative and prescient of SkyTran, pods hanging from above like dashing ski lifts. However again to the start. What’s the idea actually like?

Trond Andresen: The thought is that you do not have to place lots of people into one huge field such as you do in a bus or a practice or a lightweight rail. The one cause you do that’s since you want a driver, and for those who can run round with no driver you’ll be able to put a couple of folks into very small modules. So the concept right here is to have a two-person module, like a bit teardrop, working on a guideway six metres above floor, each in cities and between cities. And then you definitely get a private taxi that goes from A to B with no stops in-between; very quick, and also you don’t have to commute at both finish. For those who go between cities, for instance, you’ll be able to go from suburb to suburb.

Robyn Williams: How does it know the place to go?

Trond Andresen: The entire thing is computer-controlled, each the native management for security, braking, maintaining the space to the subsequent automobile and so forth. However there may be additionally a normal overview management of the entire community of automobiles. The pc is aware of the place each automobile is, and assures that you’re moved from A to B with no downside.

Robyn Williams: Would this not require probably the most gigantic net of infrastructure going in all places?

Trond Andresen: That is the very attention-grabbing level, as a result of when you’ll be able to do away with the driving force you go down to those very small teardrop-shaped pods, and when you are able to do that, the entire infrastructure will get very spindly, very slim and never intrusive in a metropolis panorama. Basically what you do is you set down one thing resembling mild poles on pavements after which you have got a horizontal guideway, say, six metres above the bottom, after which you’ll be able to put this into an current cityscape with out tearing down buildings and doing numerous very costly floor work.

Robyn Williams: So it is nearly like a glorified ski raise, besides you are not sitting exterior, you might be in a pod and you might be protected.

Trond Andresen: Sure, that is proper.

Robyn Williams: And the way lengthy do you assume it will soak up a giant city like, to illustrate Sydney, or perhaps a small city like Newcastle, to construct the required infrastructure to do it on a correct scale?

Trond Andresen: I feel since this must be developed extra in parallel with implementing it in a metropolis, as a result of now it is only a 20-metre stretch at NASA in California demonstrating that it really works. So I feel it is best to construct a trunk line in a metropolis with a powerful engineering and educational presence and use that as a improvement line for analysis, and likewise transporting folks in fact. After which broaden that right into a metropolis community.

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Robyn Williams: Certain. How lengthy has the NASA demonstration been up?

Trond Andresen: A 12 months or so. However I feel I ought to add, you stated a ski raise, however the entire level is that there is no such thing as a connection. The attention-grabbing factor is that the pod floats contained in the guideway, there may be an meeting with magnets contained in the guideway that pushes the pod ahead, it hangs beneath this meeting and it doesn’t contact the guideway in any method, it floats on a magnetic area.

Robyn Williams: You understand, I am instantly getting the sort of worries…to begin with, you do not have a driver so you have no management, you are floating up there. And then you definitely’ve acquired all these totally different routes going round one another. All it wants is one pc failure and it seems like probably the most horrible mess.

Trond Andresen: Sure, effectively, there’s a forerunner for this technique which is in Morgantown in West Virginia within the US, which was in truth in-built 1972 and has been working for I feel one million passengers or one thing between two college campuses, and it is pretty clunky in relation to what we’re speaking about immediately, form of a field with eight folks or one thing. However it has been run fully by pc management with no issues by any means since 1972. So the precept of a computer-controlled private fast transit system has been demonstrated.

Robyn Williams: You say it is fast, how briskly?

Trond Andresen: That is a really attention-grabbing challenge as a result of some folks might have heard about this, referred to as private fast transit, and principally you learn within the newspapers about small containers on rubber wheels, pc managed, for instance at an airport between the automotive park and a terminal or one thing. However that is a lot quicker, roughly 240 kilometres an hour as a most, which suggests Sydney to Newcastle in 40 minutes, Sydney to Katoomba in 30 minutes, and Sydney to Canberra in one-and-a-half hours. So you would each use this for in between metropolis site visitors and site visitors inside a metropolis. As I stated, from suburb to suburb.

Robyn Williams: I do know you’ve got been speaking to some economists about this. What are the greenback questions concerned, how a lot funding?

Trond Andresen: It is very troublesome to say what this may price, that is new know-how. So that is the hen and egg scenario. You need to develop it to a sure degree to begin to get actually good numbers about what it will price, however to develop it to a sure degree you need to have some huge cash to do it. So it is pretty early in that sense. However mild rail with the identical capability could be like six to 10 occasions costlier, for instance. It is merely that you do not have to do the actually heavy floor work and form of tear down buildings and block streets and that form of stuff, you simply plonk down these poles and put the guideway on high. And naturally if you begin to broaden such a system you get an immense economic system of scale as a result of what you make is analogous items, going again to Henry Ford’s well-known mass manufacturing strategies, you make lots of of hundreds of small automobiles, lots of of hundreds of poles and guideway items, so it is mass manufacturing, and this factors in the direction of a really low cost transport answer.

Robyn Williams: And I assumed that the cash you saved on roads and the opposite typical car-type infrastructure could be colossal.

Trond Andresen: In fact. And I used to be form of reminded about this after I learn within the newspaper the opposite day about how Parramatta Highway can change into a pleasant street, and naturally what you would do right here is take away numerous the automotive site visitors on that not very good motorway immediately, and you would take away a few lanes and put in timber and cafes and inexperienced stretches and so forth.

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Robyn Williams: And farms, you would really flip Parramatta Highway and comparable types of roads in different elements of Australia into arable (land).

Trond Andresen: Sure, you would try this. And one very good factor about this answer is that in a rustic like Australia, you would put photo voltaic panels so you’ll be able to form of harvest photo voltaic power throughout the day and promote the excess to the grid and get it again from the grid throughout the night time. So in principle, in a sunny nation, you would have a photo voltaic pushed transport system.

Robyn Williams: Give me an image…I am certain you’ve got thought of this…when it is arrange in a giant metropolis in Australia, what is going to the rush-hour seem like?

Trond Andresen: That is a really attention-grabbing query, as a result of in case you are supposed to maneuver 50,000 folks in half an hour or one thing, you have got an actual problem, as you see across the Sydney CBD daily, and this must be calculated very fastidiously and deliberate very fastidiously. However what I think about is that you just will not have one huge space, like Central Station for instance, however you should have a community so that individuals will enter and depart these automobiles everywhere in the CBD on the identical time. So that you unfold the frenzy out over a a lot bigger space.

Robyn Williams: And if you search for out of your pedestrian mall and also you’re wanting up a number of metres above your head at these whizzing pods going previous with all types of individuals zooming on a regular basis…

Trond Andresen: Nicely, the children will like it in fact, will probably be like being in an amusement park on a regular basis. However some folks will object that this can be a form of visible air pollution. There will not be a lot sound, will probably be like a buzzing and a whizzing, buzzing from the ability electronics and the whizzing from the air. However in fact you’ll have to settle for that a part of the streetscape can be these polls and these guideways and the pods working alongside on the street.

Robyn Williams: Nicely, you understand, a few of us have not recovered from the monorail but.

Trond Andresen: Sure, and naturally the monorail is extremely clunky and non-attractive in comparison with what we’re speaking about right here. And this can be a really quiet system since you have no wheels, since all of the pods are floating on a magnetic pillow, in order that can be a totally totally different factor. And you need to contemplate the reward you’ll get for all of this, an immense quantity of site visitors faraway from the streets, and you may actually have a pleasant, pleasant metropolis.

Robyn Williams: And naturally we will take a look at what you might be imagining on the web site, which we have linked to The Science Present. However what are the principle challenges now for getting it carried out?

Trond Andresen: As I stated, the hen and egg downside…you need to persuade somebody with energy and cash to be a pioneer and construct a analysis line or space in a given metropolis someplace on the earth, and to try this you need to present them a prototype that’s convincing. However everybody is aware of that in case you are the primary out to develop a brand new know-how till a business degree will probably be very costly and you’ll meet numerous challenges that can draw some huge cash which you did not consider earlier than you began.

It is just like the Germans who did the transrapid maglev challenge, doing that experimentally in Germany for 30 or 40 years they usually have nonetheless not been in a position to construct it in Germany. So the Chinese language got here and purchased the know-how and constructed it in China, however in fact the Germans had put an immense sum of money right into a black gap for a number of many years. So you could have actual endurance if you wish to do that. However, it is pretty simple to argue that for those who do you’ll come out on the different finish with a know-how that you could promote to the world. So any nation ought to leap on this, for my part.

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Robyn Williams: Speaking about China, did you occur to listen to the printed the place considered one of our colleagues who was within the superior phases of labour was making an attempt to get by way of a gridlock in Beijing?

Trond Andresen: No, however I can think about.

Trond Andresen: It wasn’t shifting. They did 5 metres in 20 minutes, they usually have been rescued by a trishaw.

[excerpt from Correspondents Report, ABC Radio National]

Stephen McDonell: Final 12 months in Beijing a report 800,000 new vehicles hit the roads sending this metropolis into an ever-worse state of semi-perpetual site visitors jam.

There is a joke right here that you just’re safer in Baghdad than Beijing as a result of in Iraq no less than an ambulance can attain you. ABC journalist Amanda Morgan acquired a style of this when she went into labour and needed to get to hospital.

Amanda Morgan: We had selected a specific route that we might take considering it will be one of the best ways to go. However as quickly as we made that call we turned a sure nook and bang, site visitors each methods. Could not get out wherever, we have been met with chaos in all places. And the additional we acquired the extra fearful I grew to become.

Stephen McDonell: And what was taking place along with your contractions at that time?

Amanda Morgan: They have been 5 minutes aside so that they’re getting fairly shut. We’re telling our driver, our good friend to rush up. (laughs) There was one part of the street, it took us…I feel we have been within the automotive for perhaps half an hour and we travelled 20 metres. And at this level I used to be beginning to get a bit fearful.

Stephen McDonell: So what did you do?

Amanda Morgan: We weren’t certain what we have been going to do. I stated, ‘I will stroll.’ We weren’t shifting. There was no method anybody may come to assist us. There was no method an ambulance may get to us. All over the place you regarded it was blocked.

After which we noticed this little automobile, a three-wheeled motorised rickshaw rumble previous us. And our good friend raced out of the automotive, over to the rickshaw driver and requested him if he may take me closely pregnant and in labour to the hospital, and he agreed.

So the problem with this little automobile, as speedy as he was, it was a one-seater. So I used to be sitting on the again and my husband was kneeling subsequent to me holding onto the roof. So sure it wasn’t the perfect. I had a number of contractions at the back of this little factor. However he was nice, the driving force was ducking out and in of the site visitors, which was nonetheless at a standstill, by way of pink lights. It was only a loopy journey. However with out this little rickshaw I do not know whether or not we might have made it to hospital on time.

Stephen McDonell: An hour after she arrived at hospital Amanda Morgan gave beginning to a child lady. That is Stephen McDonell in Beijing for Correspondents Report.

Trond Andresen: Sure, effectively, again to outdated know-how…

Robyn Williams: Peddled.

Trond Andresen: Sure, good. I’ve to say that these pods that I am speaking about or automobiles, the concept is to construct particular variations, and considered one of them is an ambulance with the intention to put the affected person and a carer into considered one of these pods with particular tools, intensive care tools, and whisk them instantly into the hospital by way of the wall form of, and be taken care of there, as a result of these pods can undergo buildings, not solely alongside the road. So she ought to have had considered one of these pods in Beijing, sure.

Robyn Williams: Trond Andresen is a management engineer from the Norwegian College of Science and Expertise in Trondheim, and he’s now on the College of Newcastle in New South Wales.

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