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Ground effect vehicle city

a city with low flying planes instead of cars
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,

I often day-dream about planning a new city. My plans always try to eliminate the causes of traffic congestion (traffic lights, stop signs etc.) by using overpasses/ bridges and roundabouts. But bridges cost a lot of money to build and maintain, so the beautiful city plan becomes economically unfeasible.

The cost of building and maintaining roads and bridges could be massively reduced if they didn't have to support any weight. Enter the ground effect vehicle (GEV). A GEV is just a plane that flies close (about its wingspan) above the ground.

So my city would be designed exclusively for GEV. All roads would be have only gentle corners and inclinations. The roads would be cambered on all corners. There would be no stopping intersections, only huge roundabouts. There would be overpasses everywhere. The overpasses would have to be relatively high (at least 10 meters) to allow the GEV to fly under. The strength of the overpasses would only be the equivalent of a house roof, so could be made very cheaply.

The ground effect vehicles (GEV) would be relatively small and low power (similar to ultralight planes). I'm not sure about the efficiency of a GEV vs. a car (anyone got an idea?)

The only difficulty in driving the GEV would be merging with traffic in the roundabouts. Clever technology could be used in the GEV and the road to make it easy to drive (e.g. advising the driver of optimal approach speed to avoid other traffic).

The city would be pedestrian friendly because the GEV would all be flying a safe distance above. The GEV would take-off and land from runways dotted around the city, but could also land on the road if having mechanical difficulty.

I've illustrated a GEV city road system. The red roads are for traffic travelling away from the centre, the blue roads are for traffic travelling toward the centre, the white roads (in the centre and at the periphery) are the roundabouts.

xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009

illustration http://imgur.com/a/nLvQY
[xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009, last modified Dec 12 2011]

Wing in Ground Ways Wing_20in_20Ground_20Ways#1062435600
This idea uses GEV between towns rather than within them [xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009]

Ground-Effect Robot Could Be Key To Future High-Speed Trains http://spectrum.iee...e-high-speed-trains
[xaviergisz, May 11 2011]


       [MFD] Bad Science   

       A GEV by definition still exerts a significant load on the ground or on pedestrians. Pedestrians also represent un-even ground, something GEVs do not handle well. This is not safe for pedestrians, especially if the vehicle/pedestrian clearance is relatively small as the downforce is concentrated. The only advantage for road strength is the is the lighter weight design of the vehicle, and that's a let's all because you can get the same effect from everyone driving ultra-light smart cars, which isn't going to happen.
MechE, Nov 02 2009

       Short, flat pedestrians will eventually evolve.   

       {+} Unnatural selection.
8th of 7, Nov 02 2009

       Ok, it's not particularly pedestrian friendly; there'll need to be plenty of pedestrian underpasses too.   

       I'll have to think a bit more about the road strength aspect. But even if the GEV exerts the same force as its weight surely it will be less wearing on a road than vehicles tires.
xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009

       Depends, if it's perfectly clean, then yes it probably is. If there's sand and grit around, then I'm not sure. And the weight excerted is, I believe, the same as the vehicle's weight, but it might be a little more spread out.
MechE, Nov 02 2009

       wouldn't actually work *in* a city (or at least not after you had more than one driver on the road); be interesting to compare drag against a train, though... [+] for the drawing.   

       //pedestrian friendly//
err... at the point you're passing over a pedestrian, said pedestrian becomes the "ground". Force exerted is the weight of the vehicle concentrated directly downwards(ish) from the wings.
FlyingToaster, Nov 02 2009

       The GEV aspect of the idea doesn't seem to be getting a good reception. Maybe the only good bit of the idea is the road design in illustration, but just for cars.
xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009

       //GEV aspect of the idea// would cause a pile-up everytime the wind changed direction/force and that's assuming that everybody is magically a trained pilot.
FlyingToaster, Nov 02 2009

       The GEV would be largely computer controlled so non-pilots could fly them: computer stabilized to compensate for wind gusts, automatic height control etc.   

       Also I think people are exaggerating the hazard to pedestrians. Pedestrians would try hard to avoid being under a GEV, but if their path did cross with a GEV they would merely be knocked to the ground.   

       One problem with the GEV city would be the noise. The GEV would all be electric, with wireless power being transmitted from antennas beneath the road surface.   

       Yeah, this idea is completely impractical, but fun to imagine.
xaviergisz, Nov 02 2009


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