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Pitch

The proposed automated General Transportation System is safe, fast, quiet, energy efficient and can make cars obsolete.


Description

Summary

GTS is based on a system of beams, in which standardized maglev vehicles travel, shielded from the environment. The loads are carried in pods hanging under the beams. The vehicles are automated and are governed by a distributed computing system, where the vehicles choose the fastest way to the target, based on the information it receives from other vehicles along the projected path. 
The maglev system is based on MagneMotion technology, with a combination of permanent magnets and electromagnets. The propulsion system is built with linear electric motors. The system provides inherent safety that makes collisions impossible, it is silent and extremely energy efficient.

The system can carry all kinds of loads, facilitating a high degree of capacity use 24/7/365, which is key to the superior economy of this transportation infrastructure.

The system is capable of platooning of the vehicles, which ups capacty in passenger transportation, giving GTS a capacity equal to or exceeding the capacity of subways and railroads.

The system has a very small footprint and opens up large areas of valuable land that is now used for roads, parking lots, etc, for more high value useages. 

The system itself is emission free and silent and thus can be run through indoor spaces, or through other restricted spaces where conventional transportation technology cannot be used for safety or environmental reasons. 


A video showing an envisioned version of the system can be found athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9tAXdFOhzM(note that this is an early version of the system where transportation of goods was not taken into consideration).
 


Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action


What actions do you propose?

Structure

The development of GTS is divided into five phases, described below. For each stage the GTS Foundation will seek adequate financing from all interested parties, combining crowd financing, government grants and venture capital from private investors. 
The GTS Foundation is striving to strengthen the project organization as the project moves along to ensure that the project management at each stage has readily available expertise in all relevant fields.

Phase 1 Laboratory verification and planning

In the first phase a model scale laboratory test of the intended technology will be carried out and examined. The GTS concept is based on a maglev technology developed by MagneMotion Inc. The suggested maglev solution  uses a combination of permanent magnets and simple coils for the levitation and propulsion, which is an important simplification that makes the system economically viable.

The main application for the MagneMotion technology today is in industrial conveyor systems. The technology is scalable, and the laboratory tests are intended to verify the feasibility of MagneMotion technology for transportation of people and goods, and to identify areas where further development is necessary to implement the technology in a large transportation system. 

A key feature of the GTS system is that the loads are suspended under a drive-sled running inside a box-shaped beam, with a slot in the beam floor. This enables a number of advantages, compared to supported systems where vehicles run on top of a guideway:

  1. The vehicles inside the beam are completely shielded from the elements, which makes for less wear, longevity and dependability for electrical equipment and moving parts of the system.
  2. The cabins or containers carried under the drive-sleds can easily be transferred to other modes of transport or to the ground.
  3. It works with the centrifugal forces in curves. The cabins can automatically swing out in an angle so that no sideway forces are felt. This results in a higher average speed.

 

The system uses Linear Synchronous Motors (LSM) with permanent magnets, thus the number of moving parts is very limited, providing for high reliability and low maintenance costs. The laboratory tests will be designed to determine if and what kind of further development is needed. 

Ideally, this test facility will be built in cooperation with an academic institution that has a need for a sustainable and efficient transportation system, research and development resources in the fields of transportation technology and planning of sustainable societies. Such an institution would also have an interest in housing phases 2 and 3 of the proposed GTS project. 

Supported by independent experts, we expect these tests to verify that a full-scale development of the GTS technology is both technically and economically feasible.

Phase 1 of the project will also include an analysis of the results, and considerations for further development of GTS. These considerations will include but not be limited to:

  • basic technology;
  • network structure (including decisions on optimal limits on vehicle dimensions and weights);
  • standard for connecting load-carrying cabins and containers to the maglev drive-sleds;
  • design of terminals in areas with a high number of passengers, e.g. shopping centers, transfer points between GTS and other modes of transportation;
  • design of online stops along lines with low traffic intensity (e.g. office buildings, apartment buildings, individual homes);
  • design of transfer points for dual mode vehicles (vehicles that can be driven independently on roads, as well as connect to the GTS system);
  • key factors for ensuring complete safety and security for humans;
  • key factors for ensuring technological reliability and economy of operation;
  • key factors for maximum passenger comfort (speed, curve radius, climate, sanitary needs);
  • key factors for safeguarding the GTS system, its passengers and freight, secure in regard to criminal activities.  

 

Supported by independent experts our results are expected to verify that a full-scale development of the GTS technology is possible. See also appendix 3 for a conceptual technological platform.

Phase 2 Test-track and planning

When phase 1 has been completed, providing a solid platform for further development of a full-scale test, the project will move on to phase 2. In this phase a short full-scale test track is used for further verification and development, in preparation for a commercial introduction of the technology. The initial proposal is a track with the total length of 400 m including one stop on a side track. Three different mock-up prototypes for passengers, goods and dual mode will be coupled to the typical drive-sleds running in a prototype beam. This track will be used for full-scale testing of an initial version of the operating system, verifying and finalizing the technology for positioning, speed control, switching, etc. The highest speed for these tests will be 30 km/h. 

The tests conducted in phase 2 will provide a solid engineering base for phase 3 and 4. 

The end product of phase 2 is projected to be a technically complete invitation to construction and engineering companies to bid on the construction of a local full scale GTS-system. That would involve e.g. detailed engineering of power supply, positioning control, emergency breaking, dimensioning of posts and beams, design of stops etc. 

Phase 3 Local pilot-tracks developing to local and regional pioneering tracks

3a) Local pilot track

The full-scale local GTS system is intended to work as a commercial transportation infrastructure. Even if the core technology is expected to be fully developed at this point, testing must be carried out with different loads, load distributions, speeds and traffic situations, before paying passengers can be allowed on board. Precise control measuring of stresses on posts and beams will be carried out to finalize the standardized dimensions of these components. Further testing of the control system and safety redundancy will be performed. After approval for pioneering use by ordinary passengers the system can be run with test passengers on board allowing the project team to start analyzing different aspects of human perceptions of the GTS system.

These tests are intended to finalize the design and engineering of the drive-sleds, cabins, beams, operating system and other standardized parts of the GTS system. They will also provide knowledge of key features to take into consideration when developing new types of cabins and transfer points etc.

The pilot track facility should be at least 2 miles long and include 3 stops, with 12 drive-sleds and 10 prototype cabins/pods running on the track. A shop for service, repair and modifications will be included. The maximum speed on this track is projected to be 40 mph. The track should be located in a built-up area.

We expect that in the final phase of testing this pilot track, the GTS technology will be approved by the authorities for commercial implementations, and that the track will be used for demonstrations to city planners, infrastructure agencies and businesses from all over the world. Ideally the pilot track is designed to be integrated into a commercial GTS-system encompassing the surrounding city.

3b) First regional pioneering track

After the completion of the test program on the pilot track, and the modifications necessitated by the test results, we plan to build a bi-directional pilot track, allowing for two-way regional traffic. This expanded test facility will allow full-scale studies of passenger behavior and perceptions, and testing the system for its feasibility in different kinds of topography.

This line should be more than 6 miles long, adding 5 stops and 30 industrially produced cabins and drive-sleds to the system. Highest speed would be 60 mph.

3c) Partly commercial/pioneering regional track, first testing of platooning

After completing the test program on the expanded pioneering track it is time to build a full regional pioneering track. 

This stage is also designed to test the platooning technology for the first time and see how it renders the system a much higher capacity. Platooning can theoretically increase the capacity of GTS to equal or surpassing the passenger capacity of subways. The full-scale tests of platooning will provide the final standards for merging and splitting platoons on stations or indeed at speed. We propose that this line should be at least 15 miles long, add 5 stops to the network and 40 new industrially produced cabins and drive-sleds to the system. Highest speed will be 75 mph.

After verification of the platooning technology, a preproduction series of 60 drive-sleds and cabins/ containers will be ordered for the final stages of the high-speed tests. It will be different versions of the cabins. i.e. public cabins, freight cabins and a number of containers for compact dual mode cars. 

During phase 3 the final version of the GTS standard will be settled for local and regional systems. 

Phase 4 Pioneering high-speed line

The GTS technology is flexible enough to be used in local, regional and inter-regional traffic. Phase 4 of the proposed project is intended to test and demonstrate the GTS technology in inter-regional high-speed traffic. Tentatively we propose that a 50 miles long double track GTS system is built in a suitable area for demonstration of the GTS capabilities for high speed transportation. This track could be partially financed by well-planned access to areas along the track that now are practically inaccessible. Local tracks can be branched off to serve these areas, increasing property values while at the same time demonstrating how GTS can be built with a very small footprint, and with minimal disturbances to a pristine environment. 

This phase provides excellent opportunities to demonstrate how dual mode vehicles could be used for travel to and from remote places and GTS transfer points.

This first inter-regional network will be designed for a speed of >150 mph, to demonstrate how the GTS platooning technology provides high speed transportation not only between distant terminals, but for all places along the line. All the cities between the two terminals would get high speed connections with both the terminals and with each other, providing high speed commutes that broaden the labour markets for small and medium size communities in a way that no other technology can match.

 Phase 5 Market expansion

The role of the GTS Foundation will change continuously. From initatially taking on the role of initiator and facilitator of a process to develop a commercially viable GTS technology to gradually assume its permanent role as administrator of the patents and licenses used to build GTS systems. The GTS Foundation will distribute the fees to patent and license holders according to individual contracts, charging an administration fee to cover the costs for the foundation, which is a registered non-profit business entity.


Who will take these actions?

There is already a GTS Foundation in place. It is a non-profit organization registered with the County Board of Stockholm, Swedn, and is set up to promote the development of the GTS technology and to hold the standards and the individual patents pertaining to the system. The Foundation will only charge fees that covers its operation and channel the costs of licenses and patents between parties on the user and supplier sides of the GTS Systems.

The GTS Foundation can serve as the hub for the crowdsourcing of money and development ideas for GTS.

The GTS Foundation is still in the formation stages and is open to suggestions about the kind of role the Foundation should take on both in the development stage and the implementation stage of the GTS.


Where will these actions be taken?

A scale model test track should be build adjacent to a highly competent institution researching new technologies for transportation, electromagnetic equipment and distributed computing.
A full scale test track should be located in a university setting adjacent to a city, into which the GTS technology can grow when the system is fully tested out. 

The GTS Foundation welcomes suggestions for suitable locations of testing and development facilities. The foundation is presently pursuing a number of proposals for locations in northern Europe.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

If fully implemented the system will reduce emissions from transportation by more than 90%


What are other key benefits?

  • Extremely safe. The elevated GTS system eliminates all conflicts between the transportation system and pedestrians. The inherent safety of maglev technology prevents accidents in the GTS system itself.
  • Extremely energy efficient. The maglev system makes it practically free from friction. Platooning of the pods reduces wind resistance to a minimum. Direct travel the shortest (or fastest) distances between origin and destination minimizes energy use for every specific transport.
    The system is powered off the grid. Thus the vehicles have no need to carry fuel or batteries. The inherent safety eliminates the need for collision barriers. Thus vehicles and pods can be made very light, reducing the energy consumption even further.
  • Emission free. The system is all electric.and so efficient that it is possible to run on solar energy only. 
  • Quiet. The maglev propulsion is so quiet that tracks can be run through buildings.
  • Versatile - can carry all kinds of loads except the very heaviest.


What are the proposal’s costs?

The cost for a small model to demonstrate the technology is estimated to $100.000.

To take the project from the present stage to a stage of development where commercial interests and public agencies are interested in investing in full scale systems, at least $40 million is needed.

The investment needed to build fully functional GTS systems is estimated to be less than half of the cost of building rail systems of similar capacity. 


Time line

  • Two years to build and test out small model of the system
  • Five years to build and test out a full scale GTS track to a stage where commercialization is possible.


Related proposals

Choosing the Path of Least Carbon /  fixdigit adding information on energy efficiency and emissions related to different alternative ways of travel provided by Google Maps.

 


References

GTS Foundation. 

Swedish government reports: 

Utredningen om Pionjärbanor för spårbilar, Analys av aktuella förutsättningar (Regeringskansliet, Näringsdepartementet Ds2009:48)
Special report from the committee on Pioneer Tracks for Podcars, Analysis of Present Conditions (In Swedish only)

Evaluation of Podcar Systems (SIKA 2008:5) Full text can be found athttp://issuu.com/simplylovelife/docs/sika_prt_report