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Maglev Personal Transportation System Set For Trial In Tel Aviv 81

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the monorail-monorail-monorail dept.
andhar (194607) writes The BBC reports a system of two-passenger maglev pods suspended from 500 meters of elevated tracks will be constructed on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries as a pilot for a larger deployment in Tel Aviv. The article claims a top speed of 150 mph (240 kph) for these autonomous "personal rapid transit" pods. From the article: "Joe Dignan, an independent smart city expert, said the system represented 'a hybrid between existing infrastructure and autonomous vehicles.' 'It will get the market in the mood for autonomous vehicles — it is not too scary, is cheaper than building out a train line and uses part of the urban landscape, 20 feet above ground, that isn't currently used.'"
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Maglev Personal Transportation System Set For Trial In Tel Aviv

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  • SkyTran! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Raumkraut (518382) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:16AM (#47314673)

    Well, sir, there's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, one-car, SkyTran!

    What'd I say?

    SkyTran!

    What's it called?

    SkyTran!

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:25AM (#47314745)

    The concept of using the equivalent of ski lift pods above ground between light poles has always made a lot of sense to me.

    I've wondered why downtown city planners haven't implemented this type of transit as it could potentially alleviate all sorts of congestion for relatively "long walks" people have to make in dense areas.

    • Above land monorail type systems do seem to be a practical approach, particularly since right-of-ways along roads are already established. I have wondered why it hasn't been cost effective vs. light rail development. I suppose one issue is getting all those people down to the ground if the system fails, but it doesn't seem like a major challenge to figure out.
      • by 91degrees (207121)
        But that's just like being stuck in an elevator. A little upsetting perhaps but people are perfectly safe.
        • One person stuck vs. miles of people stuck is a different animal, and getting someone out of a stuck elevator is quite easy in many cases.
          • by TWX (665546)
            So you stagger the zones to isolate the size of faults, and you buy a few old airport air-stairs and put one at a fire station in each zone.

            I live in a city with a developing light-rail system, and honestly it's a mess. The roads are disrupted and have less carrying capacity, there have been regular private-use passenger vehicles hit by trains, there's been a BUS hit by a train, and there have been outages when car-wrecks on the tracks prevent the trains from flowing.

            Elevated monorail would have been
      • I think the technology for handling failures already exists; I'm thinking Winch, Harness, And Rope. But most times as not, when you're stuck in a pod, the safest thing for Pod Surfers to do is wait for help.
      • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:21AM (#47315213) Homepage

        One thing I like about the SkyTran concept in particular is also something I liked about Hyperloop: reduced columnar loading. Versus having actual trains running elevated, you have many, much smaller individual loads. It's closer to having a low, constant load then a periodic, very high load like you get with trains. The less the peak load, the smaller, lighter, and cheaper you can build the columns and track.

        I see they've dumped their old, aerodynamic-disaster "fully egg-shaped" cars that was all over their old promotional materials in favor of ones with streamlining that works in the real-world (egg-shaped front, rear taper). Good to see.

        SkyTran seems to address well one of the three main complaints about public transport (the "It doesn't go straight from where you are to where you want to go" aspect, meaning you have to wait for the right line, go on pointless detours, sometimes to exchanges, etc). It doesn't however seem to offer a solution to the other two (the lack of terminals being present both directly at the start of your destination and the end of your destination, rather than having to walk for blocks or more on each end of the journey; and, inability to store things in your vehicle / take large objects with you). Still, it's a start. Combined with a small and/or foldable piece of personal transport tech, one could take a number of big steps in the direction of making it as convenient as personal vehicle ownership.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          >I see they've dumped their old, aerodynamic-disaster "fully egg-shaped" cars that was all over their old promotional materials in favor of ones with streamlining that works in the real-world (egg-shaped front, rear taper). Good to see.

          Every new system or mode of transport has growing pains. Look at what cars used to look like when they were new. The stuff you saw before wasn't even prototype, it was concept art. The same thing happens in cars: designers draw up some concept art that looks little like

          • It probably won't replace subways in extremely dense urban areas, because SkyTran can't handle the volume that a packed subway can (think of those Japanese subways where they have people physically pushing everyone into the cars).

            If their math is correct, it can even replace those. The system is supposed to be capable of very high throughput. Higher than every other form of transit.

            We finally get to see if their simulations are correct.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Really? That would surprise me. The Tokyo and Manhattan subways handle an incredible number of people on a daily basis, and I have a hard time seeing SkyTran moving tens of millions of riders around per day, just looking at how much room a single person takes on a subway vs. a SkyTran car. Obviously, during non-peak times (esp. late at night) SkyTran shouldn't have any problem, but I'm thinking about the peak times.

              Compared to cars, trains, and buses, it's no question that SkyTran would be more efficient

    • by Calsar (1166209)

      Similar things have been done before like the PRT system in Morgantown
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

      This system is quite old. It is faster than a regular transit system because you only stop at your destination. However, there are complexities in the track design and you have a lot of little cars to maintain instead fewer larger ones.

      • by Rei (128717)

        Neat link. The Morgantown solution sounds sort of like a halfway solution between busses and SkyTran. The individual cars are designed for holding a lot more people, and they always try to carry as many people as possible, not even dispatching a car to you unless five minutes go by without another person requesting the same destination. And during the day they basically operate as busses, stopping at all of the stops. And of course, because the mini-busses it uses are much heavier than the SkyTran personal

    • by Rinikusu (28164)

      It's all fun and games until some homeless dude uses it as a private toilet.

  • the start up nation...at it again. how is it that a country of 7M people struggling for peace amongst hostile neighbors continues to out innovate the world.

    • Re:start up nation (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:42AM (#47314847) Homepage Journal

      the start up nation...at it again. how is it that a country of 7M people struggling for peace amongst hostile neighbors continues to out innovate the world.

      Well, aside from the fact that the Israeli government's actions have been anything but a "struggle for peace," I fail to see how talking about building something that I remember seeing in a movie from the 1970's* is all that "innovative."

      Perhaps if y'all want to be 'innovative,' you should try showing some humility for once.

      * Logan's Run, in case you were wondering.

      • Yes, and in another movie from the 1970's, I seem to recall hyperdrives, lightsabers and a death star...

        I'm not trying to make a political comment one way or the other, but implementing -- and the extent to which this actually is the case remains to be seen -- an idea from an older movie doesn't mean it's not innovative, from an engineering standpoint.
        • Yes, and in another movie from the 1970's, I seem to recall hyperdrives, lightsabers and a death star...

          I'm not trying to make a political comment one way or the other, but implementing -- and the extent to which this actually is the case remains to be seen -- an idea from an older movie doesn't mean it's not innovative, from an engineering standpoint.

          Not necessarily, but the fact that maglevs are far from being new technology makes it not-so-innovative, from a literary standpoint. [google.com]

    • A relative lack of complacency and inertia.
    • by turp182 (1020263)

      I RTFA and the company, SkyTran, is based in California, USA. In fact, the CEO is a former Navy Seal (he also has a lot of international experience, but none previously involving Israel, from what is listed).

      They do have an attorney in Israel.

      http://skytran.us/skytran-team... [skytran.us]

      This doesn't explain why Tel Aviv was chosen as the first build out.

      • This doesn't explain why Tel Aviv was chosen as the first build out.

        What the other guy said, plus the fact that cities everywhere else are incredibly hidebound. If it hasn't been done before, they're categorically against it. Then you tack on lovely things like the taxi system as it exists today, which means monied interests with a long and storied history of corruption are against it, and it's dead in the water almost everywhere.

        Given how many factors were against SkyTran ever getting an installation, and how exceedingly universal those factors are, I never expected to s

    • by Threni (635302)

      Because of the trillions of dollars of funding it's received over the years.

      http://www.wrmea.org/digital-i... [wrmea.org]

    • by Rei (128717)

      $360 for every man, woman, and child courtesy of US taxpayers goes a long way. That's 5% of all government revenues. To scale it to US equivalents, its as if the US got 10 NASAs for free.

  • But I can't quite remember where [ultramodernstyle.com].

  • Consider a "3D" approach? Bottom layer would be 20/40/44 foot cargo containers, next level up are people pods. Use the existing State Highway corridors?
  • This is all nice and good, but I feel that public transport is just a stopgap till we get (pooled) self-driving cars. I'm talking about something like uber but with electric self-driving cars.
    • This is all nice and good, but I feel that public transport is just a stopgap till we get (pooled) self-driving cars. I'm talking about something like uber but with electric self-driving cars.

      Which is just a stopgap until we develop teleportation technology. Which is just a stopgap until we evolve beyond the need for transportation at all.

      Yes, I'm being sardonic. I tend to get that way when I see people essentially whining that existing technology only exists because non-existent technology doesn't exist - It just seems like a silly way of thinking.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. Only 200 meters of track is supposed to be built. it is projected to be finished by end of 2015.
    http://www.iai.co.il/2013/32981-46034-he/IAI.aspx (Hebrew; the English version of the article strangely does not mention the track length)

    2. The BBC article claims speeds of 70km/h. definitely not 240kph. read TFA.

    3. Earlier incarnations of this story claimed implementations in the Tel-Aviv harbour area or alternatively in Atidim hi-tech park in Tel-Aviv:
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-12/nasa-pod

    • by Sun (104778)

      While I agree with a lot of what you said, it is not completely true.

      Jerusalem now has an (above ground, so not technically a subway) train throughout the city. It did take longer than planned, (and I believe was over budget too), but did, finally, happen. It definitely took more than one mayoral tenure to complete.

      Yes, the Tel Aviv subway is now a running joke, and has been for about two decades. Then again, so was the Tel Aviv central bus station (took 40 years to complete and is under utilized, but compl

  • If I don't need to pay attention to what's going on I'm perfectly happy with 30 MPH. And that way when it does fail people don't need to die (it's built by man and maintained by man, it will fail in some way, shape, or form at some point). If I smack the ground at 150 MPH I splat, it's a done deal. If I hit the ground at 30 MPH it hurts like hell, but I have a good chance to survive.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Two reasons:
      1) Why go slower than you have to? Your car will go 10mph just fine, why not drive at that speed all the time?

      2) SkyTran is envisioned to do more than short-distance commuting; eventually the idea is to build it out enough that you can travel between cities in it. Yes, inside a denser city, the speeds would probably be kept lower, but when you have 100+ miles to go, why would you limit yourself to 30mph when your vehicle will easily go 150mph? At that kind of speed, SkyTran threatens to rende

  • Dunno about the system designers, but this Joe Dignan guy is either woefully ignorant or a total asshole. Nothing is worse-looking and intrusive to the urban (and suburban) environment than elevated highways, elevated "subway" lines, and the like. Just because there's free airspace doesn't mean it should be filled in.

    • Won't you think of the homeless, and all the nice shady space that will be created?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I've seen a number of elevated monorails. Aside from the ones that are actual train size non-monorail monorail systems (I've seen them mainly at amusement parks), the "real" ones have a small shadow. They don't lead to the urban blight you wrongly accuse them of.
  • A skyTran system is the best option for meeting personal transportation needs in the foreseeable future. Self driving cars are a waste of time/money/engineering because they will take decades to develop and still have to drive on our crappy over-crowded roads. We are running out of room to build new roads to handle the current traffic let alone any future requirements. Also, cars are not very efficient. Why transport 1000s of lbs of steel and plastic just to haul a few hundred lbs of flesh from point A

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Exactly.

      SkyTran will totally replace city buses right away, and then shorter passenger rail and light rail. As it's built out between cities, it'll replace long-distance passenger rail too, along with short airline flights. It'll also replace most car commuting. A lot of people will still keep their cars for other things though, like being able to carry stuff, or if they have kids. But the amount of car traffic overall will be drastically reduced, and "rush hour traffic" will become a memory.

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:18PM (#47319835) Homepage
    What's the advantage of Maglev here? It is just using energy to do something that a wheel would do perfectly well without expending energy. The small frictional advantage doesn't seem to be something worth adding all the extra complexity and energy expenditure for.
    • What's the advantage of Maglev here? It is just using energy to do something that a wheel would do perfectly well without expending energy. The small frictional advantage doesn't seem to be something worth adding all the extra complexity and energy expenditure for.

      There's no extra energy expenditure if your electromagnets only provide motive force and levitation is provided by opposing permanent magnets. In fact there's energy savings, since there's much less friction to deal with and it's just as easy to scavenge braking energy. It is more complex, since controlling magnetic fields for motive force isn't quite as trivial as motor + axle + wheel.

      In practice though, the maglev part isn't likely to happen any time soon. It complicates the hell out of material choice

  • This is cool, and certainly buildable, but probably not too useful. It has all the problems of Personal Rapid Transit [wikipedia.org] systems, plus the problems of suspended monorails, plus the problems of maglev.

    PRT systems are cool, but to accomodate a lot of people going to different places, you need a lot of stations and track. If a lot of people are going to the same place, bus/railroad car vehicles are more effective. Lots of airports have tracked tram systems with vehicles/trains in the 10-100 passenger range, bu

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