Danish inventor Palle Jensen may have hit upon an idea that incorporates an individual’s desire to travel by car whilst solving problems inherent in urban mass transit systems.
Jensen’s Rapid Urban Flexible car (RUF) is a dual mode transport system based upon electric cars and a network of monorails, known as guideways.
The idea is that people will only need to drive their cars a few kilometres on ordinary roads before they can join the monorail system via a ramp.
Once at the ramp the RUF can be guided onto the monorail by underground sensors. Once on the rail, the car’s automatic drive system engages, leaving the driver free to relax while travelling at speeds of up to 120km/h.
Prior to joining the monorail the driver programmes the RUF so that it knows its final destination. This information is transferred to the system when the vehicle is close to the monorail. This information is then transferred to the main system so that the vehicle can take the correct exit, whereupon the driver resumes control of the car.
According to Jensen a network of guideways would be about 25 km in length, and other cars could join at junctions placed every 5 kilometres. Top speeds between these junctions would be about 150km/h, but speeds to enter the guideways have been anticipated as being around 30km/h.
Jensen foresees vehicles in the RUF system coupling to form trains when they use the guideway.
The length of the train would depend on the demand. During the night RUF travellers would be allowed to travel alone. However, during rush hour one RUF per second would be able to join the guideway system. Jensen anticipates that a train of 10 RUFs could be created in around 10 seconds and this train could be made before merging onto the main rail.
The RUF system is electric and an RUF has to be able to drive at least 50 km on its own small batteries although it could also be driven by fuel cells or contain a hybrid engine.
Unlike normal electric cars, the RUF is said to have a potentially unlimited range, since it receives power from the guideway. It has also been designed to recharge batteries while on the guideway.
In cases where a battery driven RUF has to drive more than 50 km away from the rail network, it is, according to Jensen, possible to mount a hybrid-unit in the empty slot beneath the RUF.
It contains a small engine running at constant speed, optimised for low pollution, low noise and high efficiency and drives a generator that produces power for the propulsion of the RUF.
The wheels of the RUF have been designed to roll with the same peripheral speed, so that no rubber will be burned when the RUF drives from road to rail and from rail to road.
Driving friction can be increased by pressing the drive wheels harder against the top of the rail, giving the RUF the ability to climb steep slopes and operate in bad weather. The driving force is applied exactly in front of the centre of gravity.
Emergency braking can be obtained using a rail brake, which can squeeze the top of the rail in the rear of the RUF. This means that the braking force is applied precisely behind the centre of gravity, giving the RUF high stability because the centre of gravity is placed below the top of the rail.