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Hovercraft are, for certain people of a certain vintage, a
seriously cool mode of transport. However, they are
clearly also from an age where energy was expected to
become "too cheap to meter" in the near future and they
are also really noisy. I find the latter particularly irksome.
may also be aware that I've tried to fix this problem in
various ways on here. My latest thought is to combine
magnetic levitation with an air cushion.
The energy required to power a hovercraft is considerable
compared to other forms of transport. However, active or
passive maglevs are similar in some respects. By active
maglev I mean a vehicle with linear induction motors
pushing itself along electromagnetic tracks, perhaps
buried, and by passive I mean a vehicle which simply has
magnets in it which are pushed along by either rail-based
or buried linear induction. There are also active and
passive ways of producing air cushions - a surface of jets
pushes an air hockey puck around whereas a fan or
propellor generates an air cushion under the skirt of a
What I suggest, then, is this: Combine both active and
passive maglev and air cushion generation on roads and
other surfaces, thereby reducing the energy use of an air
cushion vehicle and therefore also the noise generated,
particularly in built-up areas. Also, allow the vehicle to
recharge batteries from the currents in the road while
travelling in those areas. Make the propulsion system
hybrid. Then, when the vehicle needs to leave a powered
surface it will have more usable energy than it would
otherwise have had, and can switch over entirely to
Engineering the Hover Train
[not_morrison_rm, Apr 04 2017]
||"The Tracked Hovertrain, as the prototype was called, was a high-speed, wheel-less vehicle which was propelled by the force of a magnetic field."
||Some video about it, see linky
||Thanks, that's a really neat video [not]. I was aware of
those but the difference with mine is that it can be
"derailed" without crashing and runs on roads rather than
||And the energy supplied to the road is free while the
energy supplied to the car is not why?
||To be honest I have no idea why I know anything about the Hovertrain...it must have come up on hb before, at a wild guess...
||[Notexactly], I'm not sure what you mean by "free". The
energy doesn't appear out of nowhere. To some extent it
might be available from locally generated solar, wind or
rain power but there's still infrastructure and I doubt
that would be enough, so it'd be paid via road tax. It's
only free at the point of delivery.
||[not], I learnt about the hovertrain from a children's
encyclopaedia in the 1970s I think. There were some
others, including one with wheels on the track which
boosted the speed of the train running over them, which
come to think of it may have influenced this idea. It's
also possible Tomorrow's World mentioned it.
||Blimey, Tomorrow's World...that takes me back a bit..
||Further than is fair. WIBNI this was the way they said it
would be? They didn't completely misfire though.
||//air cushion generation on roads and other surfaces// Do you really mean to have the entire road built like an air-hockey table?
||It's one of various possibilities. I'd be keener on having steel
rails under the surface of the road and maybe having the
air-hockey option in areas where people are about to go off-
road, so maybe near beaches, swamps and so on.
||And actually I wonder if wind could be directly channeled
under the road in some way.