Unitsky String Technologies
21 February 2018
World war III: who will win the battle for the transport of the future?
An article on the comparison of Hyperloop and SkyWay was released on the pages of the city magazine "Bolshoy" that is published in Belarus. February issue of the edition is entirely devoted to technologies and realities of the new century, gadgets, blockchain, new terms and, of course, the retrospective of the old and new.
"Attempts to build a future similar to the present is the scourge of mankind from generation to generation. This mistake is passionately loved by the engineers, who create a bunch of "frills" to the existing solutions instead of stepping up beyond the usual framework. But you can't build tomorrow in the logic of yesterday" - the author develops this discourse in the article "World war III: who will win the battle for the transport of the future?"
Read in Russian or translated into English below.
World war III: who will win the battle for the transport of the future?
Attempts to build a future similar to the present is the scourge of mankind from generation to generation. This mistake is passionately loved by the engineers, who create a bunch of "frills" to the existing solutions instead of stepping up beyond the usual framework. But you can't build tomorrow in the logic of yesterday.
The world of motors. Let us sort out priorities
Scientists assume that in the next thirty years transport will change more than in the past century and already today the transport sector is changing in the most dramatic way. To stay afloat, auto giants introduce new technologies and mutate almost to the level of IT-companies. At the same time, in the sphere of passenger and cargo transportation, few people are trying to give birth to really new ideas usually just adding a rear-view camera or a Wi-Fi to the train.
EV (electric vehicles) is the only trend in transport that has received a straightforward public recognition over the past ten years. At the time of Tesla Roadster release electric cars were a gimmick and today several models of trucks with electric traction were shown to the public. Semi Tesla and Mercedes-Benz Electric Truck were followed by announcements from dozens of other manufacturers. EV is not a toy for the rich any longer, but a mass phenomenon, which can spread to the commercial sector, too. It's a matter of time, but nowadays there is no doubt in the priority of electric traction.
The success of speed formula
To understand how to win the battle for the transport of the future, it is necessary to understand a simple formula for the success of a manufacturer. It consists of two components. The best couple to interact: the wheel and the pavement or the steel wheel-steel rail and the method to overcome aerodynamic drag.
Rolling resistance to a steel wheel is much less than that of rubber on asphalt. Therefore, all the energy that we apply to move the rolling stock can be spent on other things - the aerodynamic drag or the required operation to transport large loads due to lower energy expenses.
It would seem that it is better to switch over to the electromagnetic suspension, but in this case we will again face the economic practicability, because the electromagnetic suspension in itself is a complex system that requires considerable energy consumption to maintain the "floating" effect for a train on rails. However, the benefit in rolling resistance will not be able to surpass the steel pair.
Methods of dealing with aerodynamics
It is possible to deal with aerodynamic drag in different ways. Ilon Musk is actively conducting the fight with it. He tries to hide transport from the drag in vacuum tubes, where air is partially removed. The idea is correct in theory, but there is no sense in it so far, that's why there even appeared a joke in professional circles that Hyperloop runs on hype.
Yunitskiy's SkyWay transport solves this problem in a different way - it removes one of the important elements of the drag - the "airfoil" or a kind of an "air cushion" appearing when an object moves rapidly near a flat surface. SkyWay transport excludes this negative element in motion due to the fact that it runs "on the second level" above the ground on special rails, which are usually called strings.
These two types of innovative transport are often compared with each other, because they offer fundamentally new ideas and, in fact, modes of transport. Who will win, if both of them rely on electric motors, use the most modern IT-goodies and are seeking fundamentally new solutions?
Hyperloop and SkyWay
Elon Musk's two main projects are Hyperloop and rocket passenger intercity transportation by means of SpaceX. Both the projects are at the stage of discussion and testing, conceptually they cause both a lively interest and a lot of questions. Hyperloop is a Maglev version placed in vacuum. In addition, the vacuum transport is expected to be more profitable and faster than even aircraft at short distances.
The second project is the use of SpaceX rockets to fly "to any end of the Earth in less than an hour" at a price approximately equal to the cost of an air travel. It sounds ambitious, but given SpaceX's impressive success in freight transportation and landing of reusable stages, one can expect success from this project in the future. It is only unclear how far this future is.
Although the first concept appeared in 2013, the construction of a test track was announced in 2016. The first official permit for a full-fledged route was obtained only in 2017. Hyperloop promises the first projects in 2021, however, until now it has reached about a quarter of the claimed speeds (387 km/h) and only on simulators, but not even on prototypes of rolling stock that do not exist yet.
The second project is much closer to us at least geographically. The Eastern European startup SkyWay is conducting all tests in Belarus, at EcoTechnoPark in the town of Maryina Gorka, where Skyway Technologies Co. is implementing the technology. The Park was built in 2014-2016; already today you can see there operating unibuses, unibikes and unitrucks on test tracks of urban, freight and high-speed transport.
SkyWay transport has already received certificates confirming its technical features for the rolling stock: unibus U4-210 and unibike U4-621, samples of public transport and an individual module. By the way, traffic in urban environment is an ace in the hole of SkyWay transport. Lightweight and compact SkyWay routes look more preferable in large cities, where each plot of land belongs to someone and costs a lot of money. Stations will be located in supports or directly in buildings.
In combination with the intelligent control, the system of personal modules makes SkyWay convenient as a taxi and transport individualism is especially in demand today. At the same time, the Hyperloop infrastructure is more like major lines and large transport hubs similar to conventional railways. They cannot be located conveniently for every resident of a city.
The modern world is shrinking and often people need to travel above 100 kilometers several times a day. And if Hyperloop is more suitable for running long distances, SkyWay can be used both at a short distance with frequent stops and at long distances.
Previously opponents to the introduction of railways spoke seriously that hens would stop laying near them and even staged strikes. "Sit down, poor," her Majesty the History told them. There is a chance to digest this lesson.
© 19772018 Anatoly Yunitskiy. All Rights Reserved.