Aero Train - It’s a robotic prototype of a free-flying known as the Aero Train. It floats within inches off the ground and was built by a Japanese research team led by Yusuke Sugahara at Tohoku University. The passenger vehicle is very fast and could become a reality in the near future.
Apart from aerodynamic drag, trains usually suffer from mechanical resistance in their drive system as well as rolling resistance from the wheels on the track. Researchers at the Kohama Laboratory, Institute of Fluid Science at the Tohoku University in Japan tried to lower overall resistance by adapting another aspect of aerodynamics on its new aero train concept. Using the aerodynamic wing-in-ground (WIG) effect, it is able to fly above the track at a height of 4 inches.
The WIG effect occurs when flying very close to the surface. Cruising at its maximum speed of 500 kilometers per hour (310 mph), the aerodynamic lifting force becomes extremely large with a much smaller drag force. Solar panels are placed on the guide-way’s roof, while wind generators are placed alongside in those places where wind energy is generally available. The generated electricity can be fed to the train directly or stored in its on-board batteries.
The researchers expect the system to generate much more energy than is consumed by the aero train, thereby making it double as an electric power plant. Next step in the development is to build a larger aero prototype with room for six passengers and a maximum operating speed of 217 mph. The final, full-scale passenger vehicle with a seating capacity for 325 passengers, is aimed to begin service in 2020.
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