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- THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORTS-

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THE EAGLE VERTICAL TAKE OFF AND LANDING (VTOL) PLATFORM


The VTOL platform is designed to rescue up to 10 people from perilous situations in high places. What would make it superior to a helicopter in such scenarios is the fact that it can be flown right next to a cliff or structure without any chance of the rotors striking a wall or person. It can even be moored or held in total contact with the side of a building, rising up from below to allow victims the possibility of simply stepping aboard. In the case of a cliff-face rescue, for example, a conventional helicopter would have several disadvantages. Firstly, if the victim was clinging onto the rocks and not properly secured, the downwash from the rotor blades might knock him off his perch. The most obvious problem though is that the chopper could not approach any closer to the cliff than the diameter of its rotor blades. This would leave the fuselage still several meters away from the victim, depending on the size of the helicopter. A basket or rescuer therefore has to be first winched downwards and then swung in towards the cliff. This is a dangerous and difficult task. The Eagle on the other hand could be brought up from under the victim, in direct contact with the cliff-face if necessary. There would be no rotor blast to tear at the target, because he is above the vehicle. The machine could even fly right up under a rocky overhang.

Big fan
The Eagle's design is based around four ducted fans powered by a number of standard propeller engines. Surrounding these units a double-deck crew platform is constructed. The fans are inter-connected and driven through a system of shafts and gearboxes. Just like the rotors on a chopper or the propeller blades on an aircraft, the fans can be set to vary their pitch (the angle at which they bite the air). This provides more or less lift. The altitude of the Eagle can therefore be controlled by simultaneously changing the pitches of all the fans. Horizontal movements in any direction can be achieved by commanding different variations of individual or groups of the fans. Tilting the whole vehicle forward for example, would result in forward motion. ##nume## - ##clasa## - ##coala sau liceu ## The future of transports 2

The fans are guarded by a grid to prevent debris (or human body parts) from striking them. It's Metreveli's intention that the Eagle would have sufficient power margin to continue flying and land safely even with two engines disabled. Each fan system would have its own carburetor and a separate fuel supply line.

Window or aisle?
The lower floor of the square gantry is the location of the main seating area. Here would be placed the accommodation for the mission controller and any additional paramedic or technical staff, as well as seats or stretchers for the victims. Up to 10 could be accommodated. Occupants are protected by a surrounding grid skeleton of graphite and Kevlar banisters. The rescue deck is also equipped with a retractable ramp and ladder. On one side of the ramp a helicopter-type rescue hoist could be attached, as well as television cameras, lights and any other navigation aids designed to help the pilot move his craft with precision. Upstairs sits the pilot, in a singleseat helicopter type cockpit. Monitors linked to the external cameras would be placed around him. Like the passengers, his control area is protected by a graphite cage and additionally, shatterproof safety glass. When not airborne, the Eagle would rest on four leg-type landing gear structures with shock-absorbing struts. A couple of wheels would be installed on each leg to allow taxiing, though it seems certain the craft would be a pretty clumsy sight, and a real hassle to park in a tight space. At the moment the Eagle VTOL platform only exists as a few CAD drawings and an exquisite model in Dr Metreveli's study. The next stage of his proposal is to construct a scaled-down working model of his creation to prove the concept. To date, he and his team have been working with a toy hovering platform that follows similar operating principles to the Eagle. Hopefully he will find some investment to take the idea further than that.

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RUF RIDE
Fast, efficient and pollution-free transport is the dream of many town-planners and anyone interested in saving the environment. The epitome of these characteristics has arrived - a car called 'RUF' (Rapid Urban Flexible). Picture being driven to work, enjoying a smooth ride with great views from four meters above the ground while you sip your coffee and catch up on some notes for your 10 am meeting... Denmark's Palle Jensen invented the car about twelve years ago and has been receiving growing support for the project which combines the machine and a network of rail-like links. The system is based upon electric cars and a network of monorails. People will drive their private cars a short distance to the nearest ramp. There the car leaves the 'regular' road and is guided onto the rail by underground sensors. Once on the rail, the car's automatic drive system engages leaving the driver free to have a snooze, catch up on work or surf the Net, all while traveling at speeds of up to 120km/h.

Snoozing at the wheel


On the trip to the ramp, the driver instructs the car where he wishes to travel to. Upon entering the rail link, this information is transferred to the main system so that the vehicle can take the correct exit, when the driver will resume control of the car. This means that the main part of the journey is automated, with the vehicle knowing when to turn left or right and when to get off the rail system. Jensen explains that the rail system, also known as a network of 'guide ways', will be about 25 km in length, with junctions every five kilometers for other cars to join. Top speeds between these junctions will be about 150km/h, but speeds to enter the guide ways will be 30km/h. This is due to the fact that the cars will be required to 'mesh' together with other commuters in groups of about ten to make 'trains'. Once the destination is programmed into the car, it can communicate with other people entering the ramp to see if they are going to the same place and will then automatically form a train' with these vehicles. During peak hour one RUF per second can enter the loop, making it extremely efficient.

Off the rails


The system will reduce pollution, as the cars are powered by electricity, which can be a renewable resource. They are energized by the system as they travel along the rail. Once on the normal road, they can travel for up to 50 kilometers on the power of the battery or a fuel cell. This means that unlike other electric cars, the RUF has a potentially ##nume## - ##clasa## - ##coala sau liceu ## The future of transports 4

unlimited range, as it receives power from the guide way, as well as having its battery recharged by traveling on it. All drivers have to do is follow the rails to the end, and then rejoin another loop a few kilometers on. The RUF can also drive itself, meaning that parking will never be a problem again. The commuter simply gets out of the car close to their destination, and the RUF continues automatically to the nearest parking station. When the user needs to go home, or out to lunch he just calls the car which arrives to pick him up. It's a chauffeur that doesn't mind waiting all day for you to return... In a slightly utopian twist, Jensen proposes that during the day, whilst the RUF's are left at the parking station, they can be used by other commuters, who will have a personal smart card. This means that the last car parked on the rail is the first off when needed, and the incidence of graffiti will be kept to a minimum, due to these identification cards which must be swiped before entering the car. The RUF will only remember the identity of the last user until a new user has accepted that the condition of the car is satisfactory.

Maxi-RUF
The interior design of the car is slightly different to regular vehicles. To be able to travel on the tracks, it has to be higher than normal, and also has a 'V' shaped canal that goes through the bottom of the car, allowing it to travel on rail. For this reason, the resulting mound in the car can be used as an arm-rest or to place a baby-seat on. It is also proposed that the system incorporate public transport with a vehicle called the Maxi-RUF, which can carry up to ten passengers plus a driver. It is equipped with hybrid/electric or fuel cell motors so that it has unlimited range on the normal roads. If it is driven within the dense parts of a city, it will be able to run purely electric with no exhaust emissions. On the rail it can recharge its batteries and when it runs in the suburban areas, it uses the alternative motor to deliver the power it needs.

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