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Build a nationwide network of high speed, electric, toll roads for all electric autonomous vehicles to save energy and reduce air pollution.


Description

Summary

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save energy and as a result reduce air pollution. What if a network of toll roads were built just for autonomous vehicles so they could travel fast and platoon to save energy? What if the autonomous vehicles were all electric and the toll roads provided electric power to the electric vehicles?  What if the electrical power came for solar panels covering a roof over the toll roads? What if 50 or 60% of long distant travel was high-speed and all electric? How much oil based fuel could be saved? How much air pollution could be eliminated?  What if all ground based transportation was weather proof and all electric, including fright? Could that stop climate change?  How much would it cost?  Want to help figure this out? 


What actions do you propose?

Actions to be taken:

1.      Design and build elevated 2 lane toll roads for autonomous electric vehicles. Elevated toll roads could be built down the center of most freeways. Construction would cost much less if the toll roadway was pre-fabricated and assembled on site.  A small footprint elevated toll road would not disrupt existing roads and traffic flows. Access to the elevated toll road is provided by ground level stations placed strategically every 10 miles.  

2.     Design the elevated toll road to provide a power / steering rail by which the vehicles could be powered, guided, and controlled. Covering the toll road with solar panels would generate power for the electric vehicles and make the toll road weather proof.

3.      Design and build all electric autonomous vehicles – with the toll roads available – the electric vehicles would only need a 40 mile battery range.

4.      Design and build a vehicle control system to be fault tolerant and able to handle the failures that do occur safely.

5.      Design and build a traffic load reporting system for traffic load management and mitigation.

Description:

The mass transit system for autonomous electric vehicles could be built along current high traffic highway routes. The toll road fares could be set high enough to pay for the construction in a few years and still be less expensive than other forms of mass transit as the fare is for the vehicle not the number of passengers.  If the new system provides fast, safe, low cost, and convenient travel ridership should be very high. Revenue from the high traffic routes could then pay for the expansion of the system until a nationwide network is available.  Travel would then be door to door anywhere in the country.  Other forms of mass transit would be dropped for lack of use.  The only other mass transit system left would be long distance air travel.  With the country now converted to electric vehicles fossil fuels would no longer be needed for transportation.  


Who will take these actions?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) at the federal, state and local levels would need to be involved in planning and construction.  An ownership organization to licenses the technology, provide funding, manage the construction, and oversee each toll road project would been needed as this should be a public/private partnership. Private construction and manufacturing companies would build the toll road and the vehicles.

 


Where will these actions be taken?

The US is the primary location with the high traffic areas completed first, other countries, especially under-developed ones could greatly benefit.


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

Currently the US consumption of fossil fuel for transportation - in millions of gallons is - :

Motor Gasoline 133,181; Distillate Fuel Oil (Diesel 42,685). Total      203,171.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Monthly Energy Review, Table 3.7c, 2014.

http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/index.cfm#petroleum

http://cta.ornl.gov/data/chapter2.shtml

Total Emissions in 2012 = 6,526 Million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent

Transportation Generates: (28% of 2012 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html

If all US personal transportation was electric using autonomous electric vehicles then 28% of all emissions could be eliminated. 


What are other key benefits?

Safe Travel.      US highways claim 30,000 plus fatalities each year.  The proposed automated high speed travel in an elevated single lane concrete channel would all but eliminate these tragedies.  

Traffic Congestion Reduction. The elevated roadway would lift traffic off current high traffic roads reducing or eliminating traffic congestion.  

Low Cost Fast Family Travel. Travel cost is per vehicle not per person. Example:  230 Miles NYC to DC proposed cost $109.27 per vehicle, time 1 hr 37 min. AMTRAK Regional train $123.00 per person, time 3 hrs 40 min. Jet Blue $119.00 per person, Time 1 hr 15 min 


What are the proposal’s costs?

New York City to Washington DC example: Route 230 miles, proposal fare is $109.27 for: rental car, toll, and energy. Travel time is 1 hr 39 min. at a constant speed of 140 mph. To reduce energy costs platoons of 4 to 6 vehicles travel together at very close distances with the following vehicles drafting behind the one in front. Energy for the traveling group is shared equally reducing the cost per vehicle. These traveling groups are created on the fly and individual vehicles can exit the group at a station and a new vehicle can take its place or the group will close the gap all done without a change in speed. 

Example Cost:     The elevated guideway construction cost including stations every 10 miles is $7.8 billion. The solar installation cost $1.8 billion. The rental fleet of 36,000 vehicles will cost $1.4 billion. Total cost for 230 miles $11.billion. Revenue is based on ridership. The current traffic load along the route is about 300,000 AADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic). If we estimate that 30% of that traffic was to use Freedom Transit for at least some of the distance (there are stations every ten miles) and all the current rail and air traffic between the cities used it, we get the equivalent of about 90,000 full length trips per day. This volume will generate $3.7 billion annually, a $10,000 investor would get a dividend of $1,252 per year and the government for its 30% share of the cost would get $1,064 million per year in new taxes, which includes a portion of the energy revenue. 


Time line

Short term project. Engineering design drawing are needed. The proposal can be built with current off the shelf technology.  With the right backing: Government, public support, and organization working plans could be in place in 1-2 years.  On site construction is quick as the components are factoy o  built and trucked to the site.  The only onsite construction is the support columns and the access stations. One site would be selected as the first installation to hone the products and the process which could take 2-3 years after that multiple locations could be built simultaneously covering the major congested corridors in 5 years with the nationwide system in place by the 20th year.  


Related proposals

None others are as comprehensive.  This proposal is for a door to door nationwide mass transit system with individual privately owned electric vehicles powered by solar energy. 

 


References

Website: http://freedomtransit.com 

Plus others:

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/economy.html

http://d2dtl5nnlpfr0r.cloudfront.net/tti.tamu.edu/documents/tti-umr.pdf