People are calling it a straddling bus, but tiptoe train is more accurate.
The hovering people-mover is being developed by Song Youzhou, chief executive of Chinese design firm Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment, who hopes to bring the behemoth to the streets of Beijing next year, and has his eyes set on the American market.
Essentially a large trolley with eight feet of ground clearance that runs on rails separated by two lanes of traffic, the vehicle is designed to travel between elevated stations while cars and trucks drive under it as if it was a moving tunnel. Sensors and alarms located within the passageway will warn drivers if they are getting to close to its support structures, which the company says can withstand impacts at the speeds the vehicle will travel at, up to 50 mph. In the event of a disaster, it is equipped with airplane-type inflatable slides if passengers need to be evacuated quickly.
Cheaper to build than a subway or standard elevated train, the company's website says that the infrastructure needed for it can be constructed at a rate of 24 miles per year. The futuristic craft is envisioned to run on electricity, generated in part by roof mounted solar cells, and can be configured to carry up to 1,400 people.
Song has established a company called U.S. Elevated High-Speed Bus to find local manufacturing partners and pitch the transportation solution to cities across the United States. Company spokesman Mark Shieh tells Wired.com that "an ideal partner for us would be a RV, motor home, aircraft, train or bus manufacturer with production facilities in the U.S. who is looking to diversify.
If it comes to fruition, it certainly would be different.
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