Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Highway Rolling Regenerative Service Station

  (+8, -4)
(+8, -4)
  [vote for,

If you built service stations on massive rails, and allowed them to drift freely alongside the motorway, any slowing down you did at the station (as you came off the motorway) would be transferred into the motion of the much larger mass of the station, meaning that by the time you've had a wee and something from the horrible, overpriced canteen, you will have travelled a little bit closer to your destination.

Then, when it's time to leave the rank collection of greasy shops and gambling machines behind, your acceleration as you cross back onto the motorway will be taking advantage of the energy you previously used in slowing down.

Cumulative effects might all add up to a distinct advantage (especially after a few lorries pull up) in travel times, and some people might be able to adopt 'hitch-hiking' strategies, allowing them to traverse the country with very little energy use on their part.

Once the service station reaches the end of the road, it can swing around and start travelling back down the other lane of the motorway.

zen_tom, Feb 26 2009

Highway Stop Regenerative Ramping Highway Stop Regenerative Ramping
Totally nicked from FlyingToaster's original idea [zen_tom, Feb 26 2009]


       [+] "a service station will be along any minute..."
FlyingToaster, Feb 26 2009

       This bring to mind the same crashes I imagined with the highway conveyor belt idea, but worse as people will see a rest stop up ahead and not realize it is moving at a fraction of their speed and miss and end up on the tracks behind the station. (-)
MisterQED, Feb 26 2009

       [+] [marked-for-tagline] //For the blatant impracticality//
vincevincevince, Feb 26 2009

       Alternatively, why have the service stations, cars, trucks and hitchhikers expend energy moving when it might be easier to have the roads move for them instead.
theleopard, Feb 26 2009

       "Sorry, Junior, you'll just have to hold it in a while longer. That service station that you can see is really rolling along. We may be able to catch up after it crashes into the one ahead of it."
baconbrain, Feb 26 2009

       [zt] took me a week but I finally "got" your idea... [+] but I don't see it as being thiefed from me.
FlyingToaster, Mar 03 2009

Truly half-baked.
Veho, Mar 03 2009

       Given the typical size of service stations, this would require reserving as much horizontal room as *at least* two lanes of traffic (for the station and it's parking area/onramp/offramp). And, it would be needed for the entire length of the highway. On both sides of the highway, no less. And only on particularly long highways, since the stations need room to slow and turn around at each end.   

       This would require hundreds of square miles of land that could be more productively used for other things.
goldbb, Mar 03 2009

       What could possibly be more productive than a massive set of free-rolling service stations?   

       But, I suppose, if space were an issue, you could instead keep the station in one place, but have it rotate about its centre - cars coming in and slowing down would speed up its level of spin, storing rotational energy until it was time to leave again.
zen_tom, Mar 04 2009

       Or you could get a bus.
plasticspoon, Mar 06 2009

       [+] For the encouraged laziness. I certainly would pull over into one of these places and take a nap allowing the system to be my chauffer.
Jscotty, Mar 06 2009


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