LeviCar/RoboTrail -- Multi-Mode Vehicles for Both Road and MagLev Rail

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Magnetic-Levitation (MagLev) rail provides a virtually frictionless way to transport people and goods at high speeds of 300 mph (480 km/h) or more. MagLev trains can be fast, but they are still trains – they must stop and start often, and stations might be far from passengers’ homes or business. As such, MagLev offers little advantage over conventional steel-wheels-on-rails systems.

Let’s separate “railroad” from “train” and have individual vehicles that use computer-automated technology to go non-stop from the starting to the destination depots. Each vehicle might transport one passenger, or a small group; or one load of freight, such as the daily delivery to a supermarket.

This would require a fast, probably non-mechanical way of switching vehicles from one rail to another, something that most MagLev systems cannot do because part of the vehicle is wrapped around underneath the rail. In the Danby-Powell system, however, the vehicle has some parts to the side of the rail, but not underneath, so electromagnetic switching is possible, using “virtual rails”. MagLev vehicles can travel in magnetically-linked “convoys” to reduce air resistance.

A hexagonal grid, as shown in the illustration, can make possible low-G-force switching from rail to rail, even at 300 mph.

The “RobotRail” MagLev network can initially be built to handle freight. A tractor-trailer could carry the cargo container for a few miles from the last depot to the final destination. How can we do something similar for passengers? In the “LeviCar” system, there will be modular passenger cars, with a car body for passengers and luggage, and a separable road chassis with the motors, power storage, and wheels. The car body is mounted on the chassis for driving around town. After driving to a MagLev depot, the body will be removed and mounted on a MagLev “bogie”, then travel at high speed to another depot, where it will be remounted an another road chassis just like the one left behind at the first depot. Passengers get the speed of air travel without all the hassles.

If chassis are leased to the consumer, the lease price could also include the cost of basic maintenance, and servicing the chassis is as simple as exchanging the ‘old’ chassis for a ‘new’ one. The ‘old’ one will be repaired, and given to another customer. If you can’t bring the car into the repair shop, a service truck can swap the chassis in your driveway, or wherever you happen to be. At first, a chassis could be conventionally powered, but later converted to all-electric drive.

LeviCar could be developed by a horde of inventors, in an open-source network with a blog-like system to keep track of who invented what ideas.

In the future, MagLev could be used to launch space vehicles from earth, or, better yet, from the moon.

Further information is available at www.LeviCar.com

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

  • Name:
    Joshua Levin
  • Type of entry:
    individual
  • Profession:
    Engineer/Designer
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
    2
  • Joshua's hobbies and activities:
    Science, Religion
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    Facebook, LinkedIn, FQXi
  • Joshua is inspired by:
    The need to synthesize existing technologies to make something a lot better.
  • Patent status:
    none