Thursday, November 20, 2008


The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is developing another bus, which is able to operate on designated tracks. Superbus is able to operate at very high speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph) and could therefore be an alternative to high-speed railway lines.

This highly streamlined electric bus can also be driven at lower speeds on existing roads and bus lanes. With a length of 15 metres (49.2 ft) and a width of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), the Superbus has similar dimensions to a conventional bus. Due to the seating arrangement without a centre aisle however, the height is just 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). The low aerodynamic drag (less than 0.2) makes the Superbus more efficient than a passenger car.

Photo credit: TU Delft / ASSET

The vehicle has three axles with 6 electrically driven wheels. Whether this is achieved by utilizing an on-board battery pack or fuel cells has not yet been decided. For increased passenger comfort, the suspension system can actively respond to known humps and bumps in the road. This knowledge about the road surface along the route is stored in a central computer.

A radar system in the front can detect obstacles up to a few hundred metres down the road and accordingly brake or steer the vehicle to avoid a collision. The road surface of the designated concrete tracks can be heated during winter, in order to melt ice and snow, using solar heat stored in the summer.

Instead of using designated stops, the Superbus can be ordered anywhere along the route. This system will most likely work by mobile phone or internet.The project is partly funded by the Dutch government. The aim of the project team is to have a fully functioning demonstration vehicle built by 2008.

STATUS: Prototype under construction
DRIVE SYSTEM:Fuel cell-electric or direct drive
ENGINE: Electric motor
300 kW (402 hp) continuous
MAXIMUM SPEED: 250 km/h (155 mph)

In overview, however, a future scenario in which all commuters travel by some form of public or shared transport is unrealistic. There will always be a large share of personal vehicles. A challenge therefore is to develop a new range of urban transport vehicles, which are clean, small and quiet. A new generation of vehicles is emerging which can be seen as truly enclosed motorcycles (covered in previous parts of this series). With all these developments underway, the future of urban transport looks quite promising - provided the people responsible for implementing these systems will have the will and the resources to turn them into reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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