Researchers in Japan are trying to get a new kind of high speed train technology off the ground, and to prove they're serious they've built a ground-effect robot that floats on a cushion of air. If their demo project works satisfactorily, it could set in motion a plan to build commuter trains that essentially fly inches from the ground, cutting friction and increasing overall efficiency.
Though on its face it sounds similar, this is not maglev. Ground-effect vehicles are more like extremely low flying airplanes that use stubby wings and the lift provided by the fast-moving air between its body and the ground to stay just a few inches aloft. As such, they are in some ways more complex than maglev trains--you have to manage for pitch, yaw, and roll as with an aircraft--but in other ways they are more simple.
For one, maglevs create a certain amount of drag between the bottom of the train and the track below that reduces efficiency. Perhaps even more daunting these days, maglevs are also extremely expensive to build.
The vehicle seen above (and below) was developed by researchers at Japan's Tohoku University to test autonomous stabilization in a ground effects vehicle. Data collected from their model robot will be used to develop a manned experimental train that can run on a closed, U-shaped track at about 125 miles per hour. If that works, Japan will officially have a prototype of an advanced train just as fast as--and several generations ahead of--America's fastest passenger train on a good day.
Fine for a toy but in the real world this will never work.
Because it wouldn't take much of a wind shear to drive it right into the ground and crash--basically cart wheeling to pieces and killing all the passengers in a instant like a funny car at 300mph when it cart wheels.
You would never get me on one of those things no way.
The kind I'm talking about is the kind that flattens an entire forest like happened north of Ward, CO a decade or so ago. Those kinds of wind shears can't be predicted and occur most everywhere.
The Russians have been doing this on a massive scale for decades. Check out this massive one here
gizmo = Captain Negative
How to take care of wind shear: Put wheels on wing tips. The plane/train flies high enough so that the wheels don't touch unless wind shear pushes them toward the ground. I'm sure they've thought of this already.
How many degrees in Engineering, Physics, and related science do you have? I'd wager the guys working on this have more.
by the way if you look closely it does have wheels. genius.
gismowiz, only time will tell how well this would work. i personally thing the maglev would work better, but thats just me. I think we should invest in high speed rail, as it can transport people very quickly, and maybe they will make one fast enough to compare to planes, or perhaps much more cheaply. but in all, if one of these passes all the tests and stuff, i would love a ride. looks fun :)
I guess I don't understand the advantages of an air lifted train vs mag lev. I suppose it would come down to effeciency.
Sorry should've read the article more carefully.
that looks so cool, do you think they would make personal vehicles like that?
Hmm I wonder how this works on a bigger scale. if it tilts a bit one of the sides will have more drag. Even if you put wheels there. And if you rotate the wheels to match the velocity you'll might have problems because of the gyroscopic effect.
I think the windshear problem can be over come by using pressure sensors and using adpative controllers(which can alter the model on the fly to account for changing mass distribution when it involves passangers) and fast actuators to increase/decrease lift on specific wings.
This is a fantastic idea but if it were up to me I'd think twice before I'd put it in Japan. If this thing works as a bullet train flying above the ground,what would keep that train in place on the horizontal axis? If an earthquake hit and shifted the ground underneath the train that would shift the tracks from right underneath it. This would be like pulling the rug out from underneath your feet and slamming you head first into a wall. Now if you put a wall on each side id make sure this thing operated inside of a tube. Besides can't you create a vacuum and reduce even more drag if its enclosed?! If you put walls on each side id suggest using magnetic levitation in reverse to push the train back into its grove if the track doesn't have a hard top.
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I say make the train operate on magnetic levitation, put it into a tube, and suck all the air resistance out of the chamber. Before arriving at its scheduled location, the chamber that would contain the moving train would have to seal its doors on either side and repressurize the chamber before arriving at its final destination.
www.joesid.com - Where 3D meets Flash
Yep. Ekranoplans have been in use for a while. They have a huge advantage in fuel efficiency compared to actual aircraft. The idea fell out of favor years ago, but Boeing has proposed a design called the Pelican that is meant as a ground-effect aircraft, but can also fly at altitude like a normal plane(which doesn't make it a true ekranoplan). It'll be massive enough to lift at least 1,000,000 lb. of cargo or troops.
can anyone explain what drives the thing forward? does it use blades like the old aircraft?
It doesn't have to be a completely independent vehicle either. With this being brought up with respect to trains, I envisioned this just being a train with wings, in essence. At some point, it will have enough lift to rise off the tracks vertically, but it can still be guided horizontally, similar to trains today. It'd still have wheels exposed all the time, so it can touch back down whenever it needs.
I have been studying the incredible benefits of ground effect since Pop Sci did a piece called " A boat that fly's" around 1991. The knowledge has been around since the second world war. Yes, they are vulnerable to wind shear, and also tend to drop a wing out of lift when turning. They have a tendency to flip over backwards like a racing boat will flip if the nose get too much air underneath it. Lifting tails help, but wind gusts will cause problems. They are noisy, and not friendly to other boaters with the prop wash. I believe I have found the answer to all these problems. Check out U.S. Patent 6938852 Graham