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.



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