Feb 032011

Pneumatic Travel

Pneumatic Futurama-style transport systems were proposed as far back as the late 1800’s following the invention of pneumatic tubes for carrying mail around buildings.

Swiss company Acabion sees such vacuum tube-based mass transport systems becoming a reality by 2100 and has conceived a vehicle capable of traveling at speeds of almost 12,500 mph (20,000 km/h) on such a platform. The company envisages a global network that would let users circle the globe in less than two hours and make transcontinental journeys possible in less than the time it currently takes to get across town.

The first step in Acabion’s grand vision for the future is the latest version of itsGTBO road-ready streamliner – the GTBO VII “da vinci.” This fully electric vehicle would have a top speed of 373 mph (600 km/h) would be orders of magnitude more efficient than a current fully electric compact car.

Thanks to its reduced projected area, turbulence and aerodynamic drag, weight and rolling resistance, Acabion says at 12.4 mph (20 km/h) the vehicle is eight times (or 800 percent) more efficient and at 124 mph (200 km/h) it is 10 times more efficient than a current fully electric vehicle, however, the company claims efficiencies 25 times (2,500 percent) greater than such vehicles are ultimately possible.

The GTBO has been designed for speed and efficiency. Like the Zerotracer, it drives on two main wheels like a motorcycle, with two additional side wheels activated when driving at slow speeds or for parking. Acabion hopes to start selling its streamliners by 2015 for an estimated US$3 million but says prices will drop with mass production.

The company anticipates that, due to the streamliner’s speed potential, by 2050 new elevated roadways – like those mooted for cyclists in the Kolelinia concept – will be needed to separate it from its dilly-dallying forebears.

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