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Car/Monorail hybrid

A standardized monorail interface that any car can implement
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Take a basic car design (4 wheels, engine, etc.) and now add an interface to the top of the car that would allow it to dynamically hook onto and ride a monorail system.

When the car is not hooked to the monorail, it functions just like a normal car. When the driver pulls under a monorail, the vehicle hooks itself onto the rail, the car's engine turns off, and the monorail computer takes control of the car. When the driver wants to get off the monorail, he/she uses the car's brakes & steering wheel, which sends a signal to the monorail computer to disconnect the car from the rail, restarts the car and returns control to the driver.

The reason I came up with this idea is that I wanted something that provides some of the advantages of a monorail--energy efficiency, increased safety, faster transit time--without losing the individuality of cars, namely the ability to buy whatever car you want and then drive it where you want, when you want.

Why would having your car on a monorail be more energy efficient? Well, first because a centralized computer is controlling the vehicles on the rail, they can be queued up close together for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. Plus, the cars would be lifted off the ground (albeit only by an inch or two) so there's less rolling resistance. Finally, the energy would be supplied from a central location, which means that the generator could be kept running at a higher efficiency than a typically maintained car engine.

As for faster transit time, on a monorail, I would expect it would be less cost-prohibitive to build "flying interchanges" in place of traffic lights.

Also, there could eventually be designated "limited access" monorail lanes on major roads. These lanes could run above existing shoulders, with occasional opportunities to enter & exit.

I could go on forever about why I think this is a great idea but I'm getting tired of trying to be coherent so I'll stop now and see what you guys think of my idea. Thanks for reading!

dpgrieves, May 06 2008

Another Approach http://catmas.com/i...eft-the-station.gif
[DrCurry, May 06 2008]

Some features mentioned are baked here http://www.tritrack.net/
3-wheeled car and a monorail [rotary, May 07 2008]


       //provides some of the advantages of a monorail--energy efficiency//
You got figures to go with that?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 06 2008

       Yes, it's good, i like it, but i think the monorail should be under the car and it should slot into it, then travel along a lane fenced off from the rest of the road.
nineteenthly, May 06 2008

       A giant slot car - I like *that* idea!
DrCurry, May 06 2008

       Is this a conveyor system like a ski lift? I think you'd need designated stations for entry and exit. And it must be well above the street traffic -- if it's only "an inch or 2", other cars on the road must always match the speed of monorail traffic. I probably misunderstood how the vehicles get on and off the rails, and how they interact with ground traffic. I'd like to see a simulation of it in action.   

       Welcome to the halfbakery, [dpgrieves]!
Amos Kito, May 06 2008

       If the car drives onto the monorail, then this is baked as an idea. I saw it in Popular Mechanics but I can't find a link yet. It was a car with a big channel missing in the middle so it could drive onto a monorail.
MisterQED, May 06 2008

       I can just see the altered lamborghini, with GPS black box rail collision avoidance system, slipping past all the people waiting at the subway station .
wjt, May 07 2008

       Ok, let's see if I can clarify some of the confusion I caused:   

       1) No I don't have any figures to support anything I said.   

       2) Two reasons the cars are only a few inches above ground: first safety--if the coupling mechanism fails, you only fall a few inches; second reason is to provide hopefully unlimited on/off points, so you can hop as soon as you pull under a rail, and hop off again exactly where you need to. There would be some situations (freeways, intersections etc.) where it would be beneficial to lift the rails up above the regular traffic).   

       3) A slot below the car would also be acceptable, as long as regular cars can still drive in the same space. One goal I had in "designing" this system is to make adaptation painless--minimal hassles for people who don't have rail-compatible cars.   

       4) Somehow the monorail computer will have to deal with regular traffic being interspersed with rail traffic. I don't see this as being a huge deal; I'm fairly confident that I could write a computer program to drive better than half the bozos I see on the road every day.
dpgrieves, May 07 2008

       Can you program half the bozos? If a car stops for any reason, the monorail trip is over.
Amos Kito, May 07 2008

       I like monorail systems, especially the elevated type.   

       I once saw a model mono-rail that oeprated something like this...but the little cars could automatically accetp a switch by turning their steering wheels to the right for an exit. This engaged a pawl on the rail that let the car take a rail to the gound level and off the system and onto surface streets. Again, the problem comes in that people might stop trying to enter surface streets and block up the whole thing. Just like modern freeway traffic does. Without a prper traffic "diffuser" that lets cars disperse into the miasma of surface chaos, there really is no way the organized system can interface with the disorganized system.   

       However, a solution could come by limited licensing for elevated rail access. Just as not every "Bozo Brain" is allowed to have license to fly an aircraft now without special training and licensure...the same restrictions might work for the elevated rail traffic system.
Blisterbob, May 07 2008

       Picture a scoop that rides the monorail itself. An unmodified street car drives into the scoop. Dyno type rollers catch the front and rear wheels. A transmission coupled to the rollers (could be as simple as a belt and pulley system) transfers drive power to the overhead drive wheel(s) of the scoop.
BunsenHoneydew, May 21 2008


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