Cybercar self-guided electric vehicle or EV
A European Cybercar, part of a 3 year-long, 10 million Euros project designed to better understand how to integrate self-guided, electric commuter vehicles into European cities. Eventually the goal is to pave the way to DualMode, private electric-drive cars.

The DualMode EV Revolution

How to give electric-drive vehicles the range they need to succeed; put them on high-speed guideways

By Francis Reynolds

EV World readers don't need to be reminded of the fact that our three basic transportation problems: traffic congestion, fuel depletion, and global warming, all continue to get worse rather than better. The present systems, and the traditional solutions, are not working.

Many of the articles in EV World address promising advanced solutions to the fuel-depletion and the global-warming parts of our three-headed monster, but they generally fail to address the big one that costs millions of dollars and irritates millions of drivers daily, traffic congestion.

I support the development and use of Electric Vehicles wholeheartedly, and believe as most of you do that there will be an "Electric Vehicle Revolution;" but I argue that very few of the EV proponents and developers are looking and thinking broadly enough.

The old dictum, "Don't try to solve vast problems with half-vast solutions" partly fits the situation. Electric Vehicle development is certainly not half-assed, but it commonly addresses only two parts of our vast integrated set of transportation crises. DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION addresses and will largely solve all three. And it will allow us to use private cars—and accept still more of them as the population grows.

It will work this way.

We will drive our "Dualmode Electric Cars" on the streets for short distances in the normal manner; but on trips of more than several miles our cars will enter a high-speed NATIONAL GUIDEWAY SYSTEM. There we won't be doing the driving, it will all be automatic. Good, because human drivers now cause most of the accidents. Computerized systems see better, anticipate better, remember better, make fewer mistakes, respond faster, are more reliable, and don't drive while under the influence.

The system will do the navigating and everything else that needs doing. We will tell the system computer where we want to exit the guideways (that exit may be five miles away or across the country). At our exit ramp we will be delivered back to the streets and again assume control of our car for the short distance to our final destination.

In the Guideway Mode the cars will be using the AC power grid. In the manually driven Street Mode, batteries, fuel cells, or some other form of portable energy will power the cars.

As we know, batteries and electric motors can't come close to competing with gasoline and internal-combustion engines in energy-to-weight ratio, which boils down to their generally inadequate range and performance for highway use. Very fortunately that won't be a problem with dualmode because the battery or other onboard energy will be used only on the streets for short distances and relatively low speeds. And the batteries can even be recharged while the cars are on the guideways.

We will still be able to travel fast and far in our own vehicles after the oil is gone.

Electric Jetliners?
How are we going to fly airplanes without petroleum? The airline industry uses seventy-five million gallons of jet fuel a day in the US alone! Airlines may largely disappear for lack of fuel.

It's highly doubtful Boeing or Airbus will build electric airplanes.

But then, we shouldn't neeed them. The high-speed dualmode guideways, operating at perhaps 200mph, can replace much of the short to mid-range routes inefficiently plied by today's domestic airlines with little pain. Without the time spent reserving tickets, getting to and from the airports, waiting for flights, security checks, getting rental cars, etc., traveling on the dualmode guideways will be faster than flying for distances up to around a thousand miles. And no rental car will be needed because we will have our own car to use at our destination.

In order to get high system capacity, the cars on the guideways must travel fast, at a constant speed, and travel very close together. Using linear synchronous motor (LSM) propulsion, all of the cars will be locked in sync with each other, and can safely travel and switch independently at full speed with only around one foot clearance between cars.

In most places a single lane of guideway in each direction will suffice to absorb all of our multilane traffic and more. With one-foot clearance and a constant 60 mph (100 kph) one lane of guideway could replace ten lanes of highway. And at 200 mph (325 kph), between cities, one lane of guideway would carry the equivalent of 33 lanes of highway.

For a complete disclosure of dualmode transportation please see: http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/reynoldsfuturist.htm and for system specifications and some technical details, study: http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/hilo2.htm

The Problem is Sociological, Not Technical
The Dualmode Transportation concept is little known but not new. In 1974 a National Dualmode Transportation Conference, sponsored by the Transportation Research Board, was held in Washington DC. A majority of the participants concluded that dualmode had great promise, and they urged that such a system be designed and built. For reasons to be explained, it wasn't built.

Fifty or more engineers and inventors worldwide, including myself, have since independently reinvented dualmode. Now we are in contact with each other through e-mail and the Internet, and are updating the concept, designing the details, and trying to promote it. This has to be a worldwide transportation revolution, because these problems are global. Just as any car can now run on any highway in the world, any dualmode car must be able to run on any dualmode guideway in the world.

Another DualMode concept called RUF. Vehicles would sit astride a monorail guideway for high speed platoon travel. Off the guideway, it would operate like a conventional motor vehicle, powered by batteries, fuel cell or other transportable fuel.

Like the railroads and the present highway system did, our US National Dualmode Guideway System will cost an enormous amount, but it will pay for itself because there will be an enormous demand for its use. Unlike light rail, personal rapid transit, and other transit systems, dualmode guideways need not be built at public expense and require continuing subsidies. No higher taxes or increase in debt will be necessary. Automatically billed guideway-use fees (replacing gasoline taxes) will pay off the Dualmode Bonds and maintain the system.

Getting dualmode won't be easy. The problems will be sociological rather than technological. The advanced technologies that will be required for this new system are already available and well proven in other applications. But before our twenty-first-century transportation system can be built we must have the understanding, interest, cooperation and participation of many organizations, industries, branches of government, and we-the-people. Getting all of that will, unfortunately, take time.

As with most large new public ventures, dualmode is going to meet with major opposition as well as great enthusiasm. Government, including the US Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Administration, and the governments of the states, counties and cities, are always conservative in matters such as this. Governmental agencies usually refuse to even consider novel solutions. By those rules we can't get there from here.

The politicians don't take chances either. They support something new only when they feel that doing so would gain them more votes in the next election than they would lose. The public hasn't heard of dualmode transportation yet, because until now the media have largely ignored it -- perhaps it isn't "news" yet in their mind. (EV World editors obviously have a lot more vision). It is my belief that if we can get dualmode publicized most of the traveling public will fall in love with the idea, and then the politicians will naturally support it.

We have traveled to the moon. We have just seen a remarkable communications revolution: the advent of the computer and Internet.

Yet we are still using transportation systems invented and developed over a century ago. We are long overdue for a comparable high-tech revolution in transportation. Growing thousands of dualmode supporters are sure that we will have a unified Dualmode Transportation System eventually in spite of the opposition, but "eventually" isn't soon enough.

It will take several decades to design and build, even if there would be no opposition. If we don't recognize the extreme urgency and provide national priority and commitment, our traffic, fuel-shortages, and global-warming crises will become completely unmanageable.

How to Make It Happen: Get Politically Active
There are some things that we can all do to help make our new transportation system a reality as soon as possible. Write letters-to-the-editors, to your Congressmen, to the US Dept. of Transportation, to the President. Ask your local transportation planners how soon you will have dualmode guideways.

We know that no one is going to succeed in taking our cars away from us. Dualmode will make the next generation of private and commercial vehicles more useful than ever; and since they will be EVs we will be able to use them without guilt.

Cybercab study We the people must demand that the National Dualmode Guideway System be developed and built—and as soon as possible. Jan Lundberg covered the fuel-depletion crisis very well in his article, "The Global Nutcracker Called Peak Oil", in the February 20, 2005 issue of EV World. He said the oft-quoted peak-oil-production arrival times are: 2005-2012. That is when all hell will break loose worldwide. At best it will take much longer than seven years to get the dualmode system built. Let's hope that the peak-time prognosticators are overly pessimistic; and in the meantime, let's get to work.

About the Author
Francis Reynolds, PE, is an engineer and an experienced corporate and private technical inventor who holds a number of patents. One of his inventions, on remote control, was vital to the BOMARC national defense missile. He has lectured nationally, including at NASA and at a number of universities. For years he was a guest lecturer at the School of Engineering of Seattle University, and taught evening courses on inventing at the University of Washington and at Boeing. Prior to "retirement" he held Engineering Management positions on many Boeing programs including the "Morgantown People Mover" automatic driverless transit system.

He is a coinventor of a revolutionary and most promising dualmode transportation system that will permit private cars, transit, and freight vehicles to travel on automatic high-speed magnetic-levitation/synchronous-linear-motor guideways in addition to normal travel on the streets. His patent rights on this invention have been placed in the public domain. Among his technical papers, presentations, and articles on this subject are those to the SAE, AIAA, IEEE, ITS, ITE, ATRA, Oregon Department of Energy, New Visions in Transportation Conference (Aspen, CO), THE FUTURIST Magazine, The University of Minnesota, and Portland State University.

Reynolds has had over a hundred and fifty technical and nontechnical articles published in journals, magazines, and on the Internet. His book, "Crackpot or Genius? A Complete Guide to the Uncommon Art of Inventing" was published in paperback in 1993, and reprinted in hardcover by Barnes and Noble in 1999.

Francis Reynolds has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington and is a Professional Engineer. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and is happily married.

Times Article Viewed: 19440
Published: 14-Mar-2005


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