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The Perfect Road

What we should do with roads:
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(+3, -4)
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So. This idea would take several layers to conceive. First, there is the roadway itself. Everyone seems to think that in order to make multi-directional roads, we would have to raise the road surface. Why not sink it? As strange as this may seem to be...I think "I-Robot" got it right... Combining this concept with other ideas, we could build a simple, high-velocity transportation system. Instead of building numerous, slow roads that try to be efficient by getting cars to where they need to go by taking the straightest path between two points, why not maximize fuel efficiency and eliminate traffic jams by creating only very few roads:'underground highways'. In the future, wheeled vehicles will either be frictionless, or will not be wheeled, so velocities could reach hundreds of miles per hour.

And another concept...there is now the technology to convey power wirelessly: those handy-dandy cellphone and laptop charging desks could be the key to increased energy efficiency. Instead of burning fuel, use electricity, conveyed wirelessly through the road. People could pay through their licenses (the hours would be recorded by the power company, then billed); special power 'signatures' conveyed through minute fluctuations in the car's power receptor. If any of you privacy oriented people are concerned that this would allow the power companies to track the car...the power would be fed originally through one 'wire' feeding all the roads, location couldn't be derived, only the amount of power used.

Roads on the surface could be eliminated, there wouldn't be any more fumes given off by cars, and, because the cars would need an automatic guidance system (they're going at hundreds of miles per hour), the cars could be guided by measuring the amount of power being taken in by the car. The power wires in the road could be located just outside the wheel span, and so the car could locate itself by keeping the distance between the wires equal on either side of the wheel.

trimothien, Jan 31 2007

In search of the perfect road... http://www.dukevide...Perfect%20Road.aspx
[Ling, Feb 01 2007]

If you want to see the car concept on hb The_20Next_20Car
[trimothien, Feb 02 2007]


       The Romans would be proud.
deoxyribonucleic, Jan 31 2007

       Are you suggesting entirely underground tunnels?
BJS, Feb 01 2007

       Yup. Any short-distance transport (e.g. 1-3 blocks) would be taken care of on-the spot, in the form of three alternatives:   

       1. Personal transportation: A. Segway-style 'mobility' vehicles. B. Public mass transport: i. Solar conveyor-belt walkways. ii. Ski-lift like moving seats.   

       2. WALKING   

       3. Human-power vehicles (bikes)
trimothien, Feb 01 2007

       "Frictionless wheeled vehicles" is what happens when the roads ice over. Doesn't sount like much fun.
discontinuuity, Feb 01 2007

       The problem is, as a general rule given any level of affordability, the tighter the technology, the greater the sensitivity to economies of scale. I suspect that if these roads are to be affordable we would have to use them to drive to the toilet via Honolulu... (unless, of course, you already are in Honolulu, in which case you'll drive to the toilet via Johannesburg)   

       The upshot is an exascerbation of the loss in total systemic efficiency that "more efficient" cars have thus far produced.
Ned_Ludd, Feb 01 2007

       I'm not talking about frictionless tires...I'm talking about tires that do not have to come in contact with the car! And yes, it's possible! Priuses use 50kw...well, use 2 of those, and you can suspend a 2 ton car with a magnetic bearing or axle!
trimothien, Feb 01 2007

       And another thing...you have to keep in mind that the affordability of this depends entirely on government funding...no more surface roadwork, put the $$ to use down below. And insofar as the road itself, this is probably only marginally more expensive than installing power lines...we did it all over the freaking world, why not in roads?
trimothien, Feb 01 2007

       Wheel bearings are usually pretty low-friction things. The only real sources of friction are when the tire deforms while rolling (rolling resistance) and air resistance.
discontinuuity, Feb 01 2007

       My father happens to engineer roads for the U.S. Government. Installing a tunnel costs quite a bit more than paving a road on the surface. So much so that making the road two, three, or even 20 times longer to wind through hills is preferable to blasting a straight tunnel to the destination.   

       Then once you've got the tunnel, you need to ventilate it. Granted, ventialtion will be less of a problem without gasoline burning cars, but humans still breathe.   

       Drainage is also something which must be considered. In a rain storm, tunnels can flood.   

       Building tunnels under any sort of populated area tends to involve greater problems, ranging from the stability of the structures above to the possible historical value of the dirt you are shoveling though.   

       I also seem to recall someone poo-poohing the idea of transmitting power wirelessly, something about movement increasing power costs.   

       All the same, it all sounds very cool.
ye_river_xiv, Feb 01 2007

       Given that the cars can't operate off this special road, this sounds an awful lot like a high-speed underground railway. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
pertinax, Feb 01 2007

       Why can't electric cars operate off the road? (Yes the car would need to be engineered differently than a modern car; I have a sketch of a car wheel that could utilize the power)   

       And, we're not talking about the energy benefits of eliminating moving parts per se, we're talking about the mechanical benefits (not much maintenance on a car that doesn't have a transmission, motor, or gears is there?)   

       And yes, it's true that the tunnels would be much more costly...but think of how many fewer roads would be needed! As I said in my description...the efficiency of the vehicles, and the amount of time it takes to travel these roads would be improved. It would be like riding a bus route with your own car (but at hundreds of mph): you don't have to go RIGHT to your destination. Then you take your segway or some other thingy (or WALK) to where you need to go.   

       Also, Subway lines don't seem to be too much of a problem for cities, why should these roads? (I never said that these highways needed to be twelve-lane monster highways) In fact, by making the roads one or two lanes wide, you could send more roads to different places, you don't need five lanes to handle traffic when the speed limit is as huge as it could be.
trimothien, Feb 01 2007

       I thought the biggest friction comes from the air resistance; not the tyres.
Ling, Feb 02 2007

       Yeah...but that's not the thing...eliminating moving parts lowers maintenance costs. It does decrease friction overall, and my design would eliminate friction on the axle completely, but we're not debating the physics here, I've done the research, and so far, I think the car is possible to engineer, even plausible.   

       From what people have said, I think one criticism rings true though: I have no idea how to ventilate or drain the tunnels. But the way I see it, if it can be done with subways it can be done with these tunnels.
trimothien, Feb 02 2007

       There's no such thing as a non-moving part. There are only parts that are supposed to move and parts that aren't supposed to move, but they all move.
Ned_Ludd, Feb 02 2007

       ...and all non-moving parts move just enough to get in the way.
Ling, Feb 02 2007

       I'm smelling a WIBNI and my finger's on the [you-know-what] button, but I'll leave that to a moderator. Goodness knows they should earn their crack payoffs.   

       The statment //Subway lines don't seem to be too much of a problem for cities// is much too simplistic. Just ask the folks in Vancouver, BC how much of a problem it is, especially building the stations for the subway system in a downtown core.   

       I have another nit to pick in your statement //Roads on the surface could be eliminated//. I'm so stupid I need you to explain how this would be in any manner feasible or possible, particularly when you consider areas with widely-scattered pockets of civilization, like Canada and Australia to name but two. And what about bridges? How do we handle our water crossings?   

       I give you kudos for trying to create a template for solving a huge dilemma, but try to think in the big picture before you postulate a world-wide solution.
Canuck, Feb 02 2007

       Please keep in mind that this IS for the future, not for now..there are inventions yet to be made that would be required.   

       (It's not supposed to be worldwide...)
trimothien, Feb 02 2007

       //And yes, it's true that the tunnels would be much more costly...but think of how many fewer roads would be needed!//   

       You've reduced the number of roads. Why were the extra ones unneeded? Oops, looks like you answered in the comments. I like the conveyor-belt walkways in combination with this. But that raises the cost again. Also, if you want to get within a few blocks that's a lot more tunnels than trains have.   

       //Why can't electric cars operate off the road?//   

       Where do the cars get parked? Are there exits for cars to leave the tunnels and where do they lead?
caspian, Feb 05 2007

       //my finger's on the [you-know-what] button// [Canuck], when you have programmed your keyboard so that you have an [m-f-d] function key, I believe that's one of the signs of being an addict.
lurch, Feb 05 2007

       <aside - Psst! lurch, keep this to yourself - sometimes I just talk the talk with no intention to walk the walk. That way I come across all gruff and menacing so I get beaten up less often.>
Canuck, Feb 06 2007


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