Tech It Out: What is the future of high-speed maglev?

By Dong Yi, Yang Xiao, Yang Zhao

China already possesses the world’s largest high-speed railway network, and it will only expand more ambitiously, according to the country’s new Five-Year Plan. But it’s not just the railroads that are extending. China may also get a major boost in the speed of its bullet trains. A prototype maglev train recently unveiled at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan Province aims to set a new speed record for trains – the current record of 603 kilometers per hour is held by Japan’s SCMaglev. China’s answer to it is 620.

This maglev train deploys what’s known as “high-temperature superconductive” technology, or HTS. It takes advantage of two unique properties of high-temperature superconductors: the “Meissner effect” which allows a superconductor to completely repel the magnetic fields around it to achieve levitation, and “flux pinning,” which keeps the superconductor steady above its magnetic tracks, so it never falls off.

Unlike China’s existing high-speed railway technology and the country’s most iconic maglev line in Shanghai – both technologies which are largely imported, China’s new HTS maglev is 100 percent developed by its own top scientists. It took over 20 years for this technology to emerge from a university lab to become a real prototype.

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DEUTSCHE BAHN TO INTRODUCE HYDROGEN TRAIN BY 2024, CUTTING 330 TONS OF CO2 A YEAR

Helen Coffey

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Deutsche Bahn is launching a hydrogen train

‘This is the only way for DB to be climate neutral in 2050,’ says board member

Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced it will launch a hydrogen train and accompanying gas station by 2024, in a system set to save 330 tons of carbon emissions in one year.

The German rail company has said it will run a comprehensive year-long trial of the new system, which will replace a diesel engine running between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg.

DB is converting one of its maintenance workshops so that the hydrogen train can be serviced there, alongside developing a new type of filling station that means it will be just as quick to refuel as a diesel train, taking just 15 minutes.

Siemens Mobility is responsible for building the new train, while the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is providing the funding.

The hydrogen train should initially be able to run for 600km before needing to be refuelled, roughly equivalent to the distance between London and Edinburgh. Its top speed will be 160km/h.

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China built the first electric car designed exclusively for ride-hailing

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The D1 is a partnership between Didi Chuxing and BYD

Two of China’s top companies have joined forces to design, develop, and build an electric car for the express purpose of ride-hailing.

The vehicle is an adorable green hatchback called the D1, and it was developed by Didi Chuxing, the top ride-hailing company in China that notoriously defeated Uber in 2016, and BYD, one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers. The D1 will have a range of 418 km (260 miles) as judged by NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). They also explained some of the more interesting design touches that make this vehicle particularly well-suited for app-based ride-hailing.

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Smart concrete could pave the way for high-tech , cost-effective roads

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 Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges, and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the US is outdated, deteriorating, and badly in need of repair.

Of the 614,387 bridges in the US, for example, 39 percent are older than their designed lifetimes, while nearly 10 percent are structurally deficient, meaning they could begin to break down faster or, worse, be vulnerable to catastrophic failure.

The cost to repair and improve nationwide transportation infrastructure ranges from nearly US$190 billion to almost $1 trillion. Repairing US infrastructure costs individual households, on average, about $3,400 every year. Traffic congestion alone is estimated to cost the average driver $1,400 in fuel and time spent commuting, a nationwide tally of more than $160 billion per year.

I am a professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the director of the Center for Intelligent Infrastructures at Purdue University. My co-author, Vishal Saravade, is part of my team at the Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technology (SMART) Lab. The SMART Lab researches and develops new technologies to make American infrastructure “intelligent,” safer, and more cost-effective. These new systems self-monitor the condition of roads and bridges quickly and accurately and can, sometimes, even repair themselves.

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Hyper loop achieves 1,000 KM/H speed in Korea, days after Virgin passenger test

South Korea hopes to launch first hyperloop network in 2024

A hyperloop prototype in South Korea has reached speeds over 1,000km/h, just days after a rival system performed the first successful passenger test using the technology.

The Korean Railroad Research Institute (Korail) announced on Wednesday that a “hyper-tube train” travelling through a vacuum hit a top speed of 1,019km/h (633mph).

The test took place on a scale model and is the first of its kind in the world, according to Business Korea. The previous top speed, also set by Korail, was 714km/h.

South Korea is hoping to launch a hyperloop network by 2024, cutting the journey time between Seoul and Busan from three hours to 30 minutes.

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Lexus is addressing autonomous car anxiety with innovative designs

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Lexus is reimagining the future of self-driving cars.

Although the future of autonomous cars is certainly exciting, much of what it will look like remains unknown. Will we still sit in the “driver’s” seat or will the interiors of new cars look more like a café? This is one of thquestions that Lexus is trying to answer.

The luxury carmaker partnered with two TED fellows to try and figure out what the future of self-driving vehicles will look like. Moreover, the project aims to lessen some fears about taking away the interactive part of driving.

Although true autonomous cars won’t be a reality for most consumers anytime soon, addressing these problems now will help make their adoption much smoother.

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How South Korea’s smart crossings are cutting road deaths

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Crossings in South Korea alert drivers when people are approaching, and warn pedestrians when cars are nearby

The crossing has been preparing for you before you set foot on it. Radar and thermal cameras detect your approach and notify a central control system, which triggers rows of LED warning lights on either side of the walkway to alert approaching drivers to your presence. To keep you alert, the system sounds an alarm and projects a warning image on the ground in front of you. It also sounds an alert on your smartphone. As the driver comes within 30 metres, a blinking electronic sign notifies them of your crossing.

This pedestrian crossing is located in three locations across South Korea, designed by the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT). It aims to minimise road traffic accidents in response to rising pedestrian casualties, 52.9 per cent of which occur at crossings. Many of these are caused by people crossing while looking at their phones (South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, and some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries). “So, I came to think of a smart crossing system that recognises the urgency of pedestrian safety on the crosswalk,” Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at KICT says.

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Autonomous pothole-repairing robots that can detect cracks and fix roads automatically could hit Britain’s streets by 2021

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Artist’s impression of the autonomous road repair system, which looks part-tank, part road roller. The Robotiz3d vehicle should be seen on UK roads next year

 

Scientists are building autonomous repair robots that will use AI to identify and fix potholes in UK roads.

  • Liverpool spin-out Robotiz3d is planning to put its robots on UK streets in 2021
  • The weird vehicles look like a cross between a road roller and a heavy duty tank
  • They use AI to identify potholes and can deposit and flatten asphalt as a quick fix

The electric, self-driving bots – which are being built by a spin-out company from the University of Liverpool called Robotiz3d – can find small cracks in the road and cover them with asphalt.

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New Texas EV startup unveils US-made electric motorcycle with the right specs and price

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Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle unveiled

Volcon is the latest startup hoping to bite off a piece of the growing electric motorcycle pie. The company’s new Volcon Grunt is poised to fill a gap in the market with an interesting mix of specs and pricing.

The Volcon Grunt is a fat tire electric motorcycle of sorts that doesn’t just talk the talk.

The bike also walks the walk, if its spec sheet is to be believed.

The Volcon Grunt’s 37 kW (50 hp) motor offers 102 Nm (75 lb-ft) of torque and propels the bike to a claimed 60 mph (96 km/h) top speed in 6 seconds.

It also comes with a maximum range of 100 miles (160 km), though there is no word on what speed that range is clocked at. Some electric bike manufacturers get away with impressive range ratings by measuring ranges at very low speeds, which require less battery power and thus are more efficient. And with giant tires like those, the Grunt could surely use all the efficiency favors it can get.

Either way, Volcon claims the batteries will be swappable, so even if the range isn’t quite as good, a spare battery could easily double it.

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Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will be the world’s longest immersed tunnel

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(CNN) — After more than a decade of planning, work has begun on the world’s longest immersed tunnel. Descending up to 40 meters beneath the Baltic Sea, Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will link Denmark and Germany, slashing journey times when it opens in 2029.

The tunnel, which will be 18 kilometers (11.1 miles) long, is one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects, with a construction budget of over €7 billion ($8.2 billion).

By way of comparison, the 50-kilometer (31-mile) Channel Tunnel linking England and France, completed in 1993, cost the equivalent of £12 billion ($15.5 billion) in today’s money. Although longer than the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the Channel Tunnel, was made using a boring machine, rather than by immersing pre-built tunnel sections.

It will be built across the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland, and is designed as an alternative to the current ferry service from Rødby and Puttgarden, which carries millions of passengers every year. Where the crossing now takes 45 minutes by ferry, it will take just seven minutes by train and 10 minutes by car.

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How your city will transform as mobility tech catches on

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Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric driving irresistible.

Parking prices, congestion charges, fuel stations – the costs and diversions one never had to face on their way to work in the age of horse and carriage. The switch from horse-riding to automobiles changed the kind of materials used to build roads – slippery asphalt replaced cobbled streets and dirt roads.

Autonomous driving and other new transportation modes are key technological megatrends in the infrastructure industry. This calls for the built environment to adjust to these latest mobility technologies as they shape the future of roads and real estate construction.

In the public sphere, assimilation to these new technologies in mobility has already begun in the regulatory space. Nations across Asia, Europe and North America for example have already issued autonomous testing permits and offered regulation for self-driving cars on public roads.

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Silver lightning custom electric motorcycle breaks 1/4-mile world record

The time to beat has remained in place for a whopping eight years.

 Hans-Henrik Thomsen pulled off an incredible 6.87-second 1/4-mile pass to break a record that has been in place for eight years. He was riding the custom-built Silver Lightning electric drag-racing motorcycle for Danish racing team True Cousins.

According to a report by Electrek, True Cousins set out to beat electric motorcycle racing records some 12 years ago. The team’s first bike had only 12 kW of electric power. However, they’ve been working hard for years to improve their chances. The team’s latest electric machine is 100 times more powerful, at a crazy 1,200 kW (1.2 Megawatts).

True Cousins’ goal was to beat the 1/4-mile electric motorcycle record of 6.94 seconds, which was set in 2012 by Larry McBride. They had nine total runs to see if they could pull it off. With two-thirds of the runs in the books, it didn’t look like they’d be able to beat the record. Their best time out of six total runs was 7.15 seconds. Ridiculously quick, but not quick enough.

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