• May 14th 2011 at 6:01PM
  • 24
Hovering Aero Train – Click above to watch video after the jump
A Japanese research team led by Yusuke Sugahara at Tohoku University has built a robotic prototype of a free-flying, ground-effects vehicle that sort of floats within inches of the road. Called Aero Train, this ground-effects vehicle will be used to test an autonomous three-axis stabilization system.

Packing electric motors, the Aero Train hovers inches above the tarmac, eliminating any rolling resistance and allowing it to hit a top speed of 124 mph. A U-shaped concrete channel controls air flow and provides the Aero Train's robotic controls with a makeshift road to follow. On-board computers control pitch, roll and yaw of the prototype.

In the future – get this – the developers envision the Aero Train traveling within a tunnel capped with solar panels that send juice directly to the vehicle's batteries. Hit the jump to catch video of the prototype Aero Train floating down the road.

[Source: You Tube, Gas 2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      the most problematic moments of flight are "landing and taking-off"..... so why not just use a plane. i mean modern aircraft can basically do all there flying and landing adjustments via auto pilot anyway. so its really not a far step to "fully robotic" controls... Whats the advantage to staying so close to the ground anyway????? seems like just more potential to collide with stuff ( even if it is in some giant, expensive "tunnel" )
      russellbgeister
      • 4 Years Ago
      this is not new the soviets invented this tech years ago during th cold war
        • 4 Years Ago
        @russellbgeister
        I thought Al Gore invented that. :-D
      Noz
      • 4 Years Ago
      Generally speaking revolutionary ideas are always met with huge skepticism and little understanding....this being a case in point. And money is always the excuse for not doing the right thing....as if drilling for oil is cheaper...lol
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Noz
        Yes, but using this thing as a rail-transport replacement is not necessarily a practical use for this sort of aircraft. As much as i'd love to see a Surface-Effect Multiple Unit train, I think these aircraft lend themselves better to over-water routes. Surface effect aircraft can fly to a limited degree, but use the surface effect to create more lift. More lift= less fuel burned creating the lift, which in turn reduces costs. I would imagine craft like this making tran-ocean or sea flights, taking off from nearby airports and then "hovering" across the sea. This has the advantage of letting the craft run to their full potentional. Consider this, it would be silly to use trains like this in local or interurban service, where the train will be constantly starting and stopping. After all, when its not moving its not floating, and if it keeps having to speed up to float then stop, it might as well be rollin on wheels. Conventional Electric MUs do this job a lot better. Their design lends themselves more to high-speed running, which is great, but then you have to have tracks that let them work this way (IE no tight curves winding through cities, few grades/hills) , and a market for it. In many places, High-speed rail already exists in a form that has the potential to go MUCH faster with a conventional electric propulsion system and better lend themselves to changes in the surface while still running on relatively cheap steel rail. There also comes a point where if you try to extend this high-speed train longer distances, that air travel will compete with it successfully. You can build a super green floating train, but it no one rides it, you just ruined a good chunk of the environment to build it without really benefitting anyone.
      jimbob
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why not send the electricity via wireless and forego the batteries?
      Ryan
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is this the famed flying car? Interesting idea, but what happens when you put 10,000 lbs of people in it?
        foci
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Ekranoplan http://www.moscowtopnews.com/?area=postView&id=886 Granted this machine is over 30 years old and used petro, but is what you get when you add 10,000 lbs. and people.
        Ford Future
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Come on Ryan, they have to scale up to solve that problem. They would need more wing area, it might turn into a flying piece of paper. But, let's get some research done first.
      Ben Crockett
      • 4 Years Ago
      The other major downside with the design is that you could get two high speed electric trains (ie. one going each way) in the space of just one of these hovering aero trains based on the above picture. Space is generally not a premium in the confines of a city and is expensive to go underground.
      Nick From Montreal
      • 4 Years Ago
      Other than being electric, this project has *zero* merit. It takes more space tan a magnetically levitating train, and is way slower. Looks like a lousy electric plane too. In fact, it probably started as a ICE-based project and then someone said "Let's make it electric so we can get funding.".
      sandos
      • 4 Years Ago
      Making all those tunnels and semi-tunnels will not be cheap. I think rail will look very cheap in comparison.
      Floorman
      • 4 Years Ago
      What happens when there is snow on the track ? say about 6 in?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Floorman
        as the article says "the developers envision the Aero Train traveling within a tunnel capped with solar panels that send juice directly to the vehicle's batteries"
      russellbgeister
      • 4 Years Ago
      try googling ekraoplan
      paulwesterberg
      • 4 Years Ago
      how is this better than an electric train?
        letstakeawalk
        • 4 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Less friction means it's more efficient. It would also be quieter, and have a smoother ride.
          Ford Future
          • 4 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          More Efficient means Less Fuel, so Operating costs would drop. This is the kind of idea we need.
      Arun Murali
      • 4 Years Ago
      This can be a lot smaller than what these guys are trying. All you need to keep the train afloat is large amounts of high pressure air under the body and partial vacuum on the upper side of the body. It need not have the lift capabilities of a traditional Aircraft. So the way I see it, instead of borrowing the design from a plane. They could build a floating vehicle with a body which acts as a huge wing. They can hybridize the concept by adding some vertical air pumps(useful for low speed operations). This will be many magnitudes cheaper to build than Maglev, simply because it does not need KM's of complex cooled ceramic super conductors or rare earth metals. It can still use magnetic propulsion that Maglevs use. This can also be a bit more cheaper over the build, maintain and operate cycle than the current high speed trains, cause the wear is very minimal. No tyre, power line, track, brake wears.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Arun Murali
        There are aircraft known as lifting bodies that have no wings. Fuse them with a surface effect vehicle, and this could be done. Still, the Acela Express, the "slowest" of the world's high-speed trains, still goes faster than this thing where the old former PRR/New Haven trakcs will let it. Conventional trains with new drives and better track might still be a better choice.
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