free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 234. AEROTRAIN

Saturday, February 11, 2006


The Aerotrain is an interesting transportation idea currently being prototyped by Yasuaki Kohama and his group at Tohoku University in Japan.

Aerotrain Concept

Second Generation Prototype

The basic idea of the Aerotrain is to create a "levitating" train by using the aerodynamic principle of ground lift -- a phenomenon which boosts the lift of a wing when flying close to the ground. This makes it possible to achieve many of the advantages of a maglev train, without the expensive coils. A practical system could fly at speeds of 500km/h, while consuming about 1/2 to 1/3 the energy of the bullet train. The current goal of Professor Kohama's group is to complete a 350 passenger craft with a speed of 500km/h by 2020.

There is also a Quicktime video of the prototype here.
-- by JD


At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 2:10:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Holy moly, that's cool.

I noticed the enclosure with the solar panels and the windmill - is that for powering the aerotrain?

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 3:01:00 AM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

Innovative idea, with lots of potential.

Unfortunately most of the site’s English content is limited, but from what I could tell, the focus is on developing a mass transit system that’s zero emission but ultra high performance. Imagine that track being lined with solar panels and small wind turbines, beaming power to the trains as they zip across the country. Could this be a potential 21st century domestic airlines replacement/supplement?

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 12:10:00 PM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

i'm sure this will get killed in various safety lobbies outside of japan. not to mention in the u.s. we're not even willing to give regular rail a try...

definitely cool tech tho.

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 12:50:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

It might not replace long haul flights (too slow), but for flights under 2 hours, where you spend most of the time getting to the airport/waiting/taxiing etc., it would be perfect.

Hopefully one day we can have maglev trains in vacuum tubes - wouldn't that be greeat!

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 2:07:00 PM PST, Blogger St Peter's RC High School said...

Looks like a small version of the Russian TKV-34 running in a concrete trough rather than over water. A monster 'Wing in Ground Effect' transporter craft that does 310mph at a maximum height of 10 feet

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 2:45:00 PM PST, Blogger dub_scratch said...

It looks like this would be an extremely safe transport mode. With the exception of rear-ending another Aerotrain, there seams to be nothing that can possibly go wrong.

Also grade separations look like they would be pretty easy to build.

This is a really nice post JD.

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 4:26:00 PM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

chris l, why would this be incredibly safe? anything moving at that speed on a track is in danger of a fatal accident just due to a track malfunction.

i'm just playing devil's advocate but why is this different than regular rail? regular rail is more dangerous than aircraft travel per mile travelled source

personally i find both train and airplane travel to be much safer than driving, and will welcome a high tech rail system in the U.S. i think it would be awesome to be able to cross the country in 24 hours on a sleeper car.

i'm just anticipating the kind of resistance this sort of infrastructure investment will run into.

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 9:40:00 PM PST, Blogger dub_scratch said...

chris l, why would this be incredibly safe? anything moving at that speed on a track is in danger of a fatal accident just due to a track malfunction

popmonkey, this safety claim is based on nothing but my perception. As it seems, track malfunctioning is not as likely as with standard train tracks. Allot of train accidents involve
derailment and I cannot see how the Aerotrain can get derailed. Then we have single transport module that is more like a plane or ferry and less like a massive train. Standard trains don't stop so easy but this looks like it would. Lastly the trench type configuration means that grade separation is mandatory. It does not look possible to have road crossings, and if there is no road crossings then this would be a big safety advantage over standard trains.

At Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 10:43:00 PM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

chris l, cool.

well to continue playing devil's advocate, i can imagine a lot of things going wrong, like debris in the trench, a wing breaking causing the train to fly into the air (ever see what happens to le mans cars when they lose their "wings"?), etc.

i'm not sure why i'm even playing devil's advocate. i totally love trains, have all my life, and would love to live in a world where travel was via some sort of train system.

i'm just skeptical that we'll see this kind of system in use in my lifetime.

At Monday, February 13, 2006 at 3:08:00 PM PST, Blogger Rebecca Necker said...

An overground version of the Russian ekranoplan -- cool! If it is substantially cheaper than a high-speed maglev, then some countries (Europe and Japan, and probably China) will be interested in it.

They need to redesign the guideway so passengers have something to see out of the window, though.

At Friday, October 19, 2007 at 12:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mark said...

I aggree with not being able to see out the window as a stubling block, plus the amount of land required for such a project.

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At Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 1:51:00 PM PST, Blogger dede said...

There's a cool video about experiments conducted in the sixties on several aérotrains. Check aérotrain on youtube:
At that time, those trains were powered by fuel and were declared less competitive than the TGV trains wich run on electricity coming from nuclear power plants. So the main drawback was the need of fuel. But solar panels seems a good idea.

At Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 8:28:00 PM PST, Blogger Shawn Driscoll said...

The real problem is no "environmentalist" would allow such a track to be built anywhere.


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