Aero-Train a High-Speed High-Efficiency Ground-Effect Train

Collected from: AeroTrain main page

Levitating locomotive developed by Japanese scientists | Mail Online

A research team, lead by Tohoku University's Yusuke Sugahara, has made a prototype of the train-plane which floats just above the ground on a cushion of air.

Since the train does not come into contact with the ground, there is no friction reducing its forward momentum, allowing the vehicle to potentially reach greater speeds than regular trains with less energy expenditure.

A Train That's Part Plane, Flying Inches From The Ground | Fast Company

It's being called the Aero Train and it's prototype was developed as a proof of concept for a paper given at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. It works on the principles of the "wing-in-ground effect," which is that as planes get very low, drag decreases significantly. Take one of these planes and attach some passenger cars to it--voila!--you have yourself a very efficient flying train that doesn't require that much energy to move. Here's a video of the prototype in action, flying just inches above the ground:

Levitation Control of Experimental Wing-in-Ground Effect Vehicle along Z Axis and about Roll and Pitch Axes

The goal of this study is to develop a control method for levitation stabilization of an aerodynamic levitated train named the “Aero-Train,” which is a high-speed, high-efficiency train system. The levitation in this system occurs because of the wing-in-ground effect that acts on a U-shaped guideway. In order to achieve the goal of this study, a small experimental prototype and a control method for stabilization along the Z axis and about the roll and pitch axes were developed, as described in this paper. The effectiveness of the developed control method is confirmed by experimental results.
Collected from: ICRA 2011 Paper Abstract

YouTube - Japan WIG train - Ground Effect Train

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.

The next stage in the development is to build a larger Aero-Train prototype with room for six passengers and a maximum operating speed of 350 kilometres per hour (217 mph). The final, full-scale Aero-Train, with a length of 85 metres (279 ft) and seating capacity for 325 passengers, is aimed to begin service in 2020.