Can the Superbus revolutionize public transport?

As we're all well aware, magnetic-levitation (maglev) trains have come under fire recently for being unsafe at high speeds. There are other alternatives, however, for next generation public transportation that's both fast and environmentally friendly. The Superbus is a project for a futuristic public bus that runs on electricity (either batteries or fuel cells) and can reach speeds of 155 mph on dedicated "supertracks". It's the brainchild of designers and engineers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and has received €9 million in government funding and additional €1 million from local bus company, Connexxion.

The Superbus may look longer than a football field, but it's actually the same length and width as a normal city bus. It looks extra long because it's only 5.6 feet high, or about the height of an average SUV. That means that passengers can't stand up inside the Superbus, but they won't need to since each of its 30-some seats has an individual door.

Read more about the Superbus and see more pictures after the jump and click here to see a quick video of the project...

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[Source: TU Delft via]

In order to make the Superbus a viable alternative to maglev trains, the engineers at Delft are also working on "supertracks" that they claim would be very easy to build into existing roadways and allow the bus to reach 155 mph while being piloted by computer. To make this possible, the bus would include sensors that scanned the road ahead up to 300 meters for dangerous objects and a suspension that memorized the roadway for changing conditions and particular bumps.

You wouldn't catch a ride to the bus station to hop on the Superbus, either. Developers plan to have the bus eschew traditional stops in favor of door-to-door deliveries via intelligent routing technology. Riders would be able to text-message the bus their location and have it meet them for pickup. Presumably a central computer would work out the most efficient route to pick up and drop off passengers that are constantly texting for transportation.

Currently the university is developing a working scale model of the Superbus, but the next major milestone will be the debut of a working prototype at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

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