Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter is here, and for cars and trucks it is no "Wonderland" - Part III

In my last two blog posts, I've talked about the crippling effect winter can have on auto and truck transportation. As you know from those entries, I propose the Aeroduct System of air cushion vehicles in elevated lightweight guideways as the ideal transportation system, during the winter and the rest of the year.

Now I will address attempts to improve the performance of wheel based vehicles in bad weather. Many intelligent efforts are being made in that direction. Overall, my response is that those efforts will be highly expensive, highly complicated but with low results. Here are some specifics.

Some efforts are being directed at improved sensing devices for the roads. An article in the October/November issue of Traffic Technology International by Melanie Scott talks about the latest devices that can count cars and also detect pavement temperature and moisture. This information is passed on to traffic control officials, and can aid them in determining road conditions. Presumably, this same information could be passed on to drivers, also letting them know road conditions ahead. This is all part of the hoped for intelligent driving of the future.

Bad weather magnifies driver error, and even more informed drivers could still make mistakes, in part due to the tendency to travel as fast as one wants regardless of weather conditions, instead of as fast as is reasonable under those conditions. The recognition of the relationship between driver error and accidents has prompted the many ongoing efforts to design cars and road systems that take the driver out of the picture, by completely automating cars and trucks. These efforts are summarized by Ryan D. Lamm in his article "Driven to It", published in the November/December, 2008 edition of Thinking Highways North America.

I commented on Mr. Lamm's article in an earlier blogpost. I'll reiterate here that no automation of wheel based vehicles and no sensing of road conditions will have as important an impact on creating ideal transportation as will the replacement of wheeled vehicles and roads with the Aeroduct System. Reducing accidents with better knowledge of road conditions and steps towards automating driver functions are steps in the right direction. But, complete automation of automobiles is a very big challenge, and I don't think it will ever happen, even with thousands of dollars of sensing and communication devices added to cars and trucks. A car or truck travels in a flat plane where other vehicles and pedestrians and animals can be in any direction, under many different weather situations. Computer sensing and reaction to all that will be extremely complicated. So, in the future. drivers will still influence the control of cars, and driver error will still be a factor, even if reduced some by technology.

Even more challenging to those who want to continue our current wheel based transportation system is that no amount of sensing and no steps towards automated cars will improve icy and snowy roads. Traffic accidents might decline, which would be a good thing, but road conditions will still be bad, and travel will still slow down greatly. The bane of winter weather for everyone is the inconvenience of increased travel time. And, all that salt and sand will still need to be dumped onto roads to make them passable at all. Only a transportation system immune to bad weather is really ideal. Only a transportation system that can be automated far less expensively than cars/trucks/roads and does not need enormous amounts of salt and sand each winter is ideal. That is why I say the Aeroduct System is the transportation modality of the future.

To those parts of the country where snowstorms and ice storms cause no end of problems each winter, I invite you to contact Aeromobile Inc. to talk to us. The population shift away from colder areas to warmer has many causes, but one of them has to be the desire to get away from the dangerous and slow travel conditions faced for three or four months each year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is here, and for cars and trucks it is no "Wonderland" - Part II

In my most recent blog entry, I made the point that the onset of winter in many parts of North America is a real bane to the drivers of automobiles and trucks. I don't think anyone would argue with that. Now I want to discuss a very viable solution to this problem.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will be aware of the Aeroduct System that I have developed. This transportation system consists of air cushion vehicles gliding in lightweight guideways. It would be a far better way to travel than wheeled vehicles in the winter. Among the reasons are:

1. Air cushion vehicles do not require friction to hold their place in the guideway, nor to stop. Ice and snow greatly reduce friction, and the only way a tire can hold its place or be stopped is with friction. The vehicles in the Aeroduct System will glide right over the surface of the guideway, even if that surface is covered with snow or ice. To stop, the vehicles just reverse their thrust, and the slipperiness of the surface does not impede the halting of the vehicles motion, nor any reduction in speed. And, the guideways hold the vehicles in place laterally.

Automobile and truck accidents are far more frequent in bad weather than in more moderate conditions. One example is this one from Kansas:

Sedgwick County officials recorded 359 traffic accident calls to 911 between midnight and 4 p.m. today. That compares to 41 calls the day before during the same period of time.

1 of those involved a multi-car pileup involving five or six cars on Interstate 135 just north of the Kansas Coliseum.

Of course, these numerous winter accidents require police, emergency personnel, ambulances and tow trucks to work overtime.

2. But, accidents in themselves are not the most widespread issue. The great decrease in speed necessary in bad conditions to avoid accidents and the slowdown caused by accidents blocking lanes of traffic affect everyone travelling. Not only is winter driving more dangerous to drivers, it is often much slower, too. With the Aeroduct System, these bad conditions will not require slower movement of the air cushion vehicles, and there won't be a spike in accidents. Craft in the Aeroduct will move along just fine in spite of the slick surfaces, allowing everyone to travel as fast as any other time of the year.

3. Not only are people in cars and trucks at much more risk in slippery conditions, pedestrians, bicyclists and animals are as well. Since autos and trucks are on the same surface as other travellers on foot or bike, their inability to stop or to stay on course can be injurious or fatal to those other travellers. The guideways in the Aeroduct System will be raised above pedestrians and animals. Those travelling on foot or two wheels will have the ground surface to themselves, and will never be at risk from the air cushion vehicles above taking passengers to their destinations.

4. All the salt and sand that must be spread in order to enhance traction in the winter has a environmental impact. The benefit of reducing accidents outweighs the cost to the environment, but with the Aeroduct System, there will be no need for salting and sanding. Municipalities will save all that money they spend now, and the plants, animals and drinking water will benefit as well.

There is no reason that winter travel has to be a burden in most of North America - and of course, in other parts of the globe where winter means inclement weather. But, until we decide to replace automobiles and trucks on roads with air cushion vehicles in guideways, we will continue to experience winter as a season to dread. I invite all those who want to put an end to winter's menace for travellers to contact me and find out how the Aeroduct System can be implemented for the benefit of all.

In the next installment on this topic, I'll discuss efforts to improve wheeled transport in bad weather and why I think those efforts, well meaning as they are, cannot have the same success as the Aeroduct System.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter is here, and for cars and trucks it is no "Wonderland" - Part I

It's the time of the year in much of the USA and almost all of Canada where cold, snow and ice begin to dominate the weather and create driving conditions that are often slow and difficult and sometimes very treacherous. A few recent examples from different places will suffice to illustrate this reality:

From The Grand Rapids Press on Monday December 15, 2008, 6:12 AM
After a night of rains and warm temperatures, a cold snap is turning road conditions icy.

One vehicle ended up in the median on Int. 196 in Ottawa County, reducing eastbound traffic to one lane east of Zeeland around 6 a.m. Road crews were spreading sand on the highway. Traffic also was reduced to one lane near Hudsonville, where three cars were in the median.
From on December 9, 2008 6:04 PM ET

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The season's first winter blast spawned hundreds of traffic accidents Tuesday across central Kansas as slick roads made travel hazardous for much of the day.

South central and parts of central Kansas generally had accumulations upward of 2 inches.

From the Tacoma (WA) News Tribune on as posted by Stacey Mulick on December 15th, 2008 at 06:56:54 AM

State transportation crews planned to be out overnight and this morning, treating and clearing the highways of ice.

Drivers should be prepared for slick conditions and take some precautions.

"One spin-out can block traffic for hours and cause additional incidents," transportation officials said in a press release. "And, clearing incidents can also take our crews away from road-clearing activities."

These three examples are just a tiny sample of the hundreds of news reports all across the USA and Canada of traffic slowdowns, accidents, extensive salting and sanding, and stressful driving conditions that winter brings to our roadways. Bridges are even more at risk, since they freeze first, and there is generally nowhere to slide except into other cards or in the worst of cases, off the bridge into the water below.

This rite of winter is the direct consequence of wheel based cars and trucks losing both traction and visibility in snowy and or icy conditions. Despite the best efforts of weather forecasters to predict bad weather so drivers are forewarned, and despite the efforts of road crews to plow, salt and sand roads before and during storms, each winter thousands of motorists will be involved in weather related accidents, and millions will be inconvenienced by the poor conditions. Add to that the environmental impact of distributing salt and sand in large quantities, and the expense of keeping road crews busy along with the police, ambulances, and tow trucks, and winter is not now and won't ever be a wonderland for those who travel on wheels.

This is part I of my blog entry on winter and transportation, and sets the stage for my offering the best solution to this inevitable and uneviable situation, which I will do in Part II and subsequent entries.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Traffic Simulation as an Enabler

On an IBM website, there is a June, 2008 announcement about a software simulation program for traffic congestion:

Kyoto University and IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory have developed a system that can simulate urban transport situations encompassing millions of individual vehicles in complex traffic interactions. A simulation can predict, for example, what will happen if a new office building, sports arena or other major facility is built and lead to improved planning of roads and public transportation.

"Imagine having the ability to ease congestion while curtailing pollution and accidents," said Prof. Toru Ishida, Department of Social Informatics, Kyoto University. "IBM and Kyoto University have found a way to do this before expensive and disruptive construction and other changes impact Kyoto's economy and its citizens. This is an example of how technology can aid smarter decision-making."

One such use for this predictive software is to help cities design congestive pricing schemes, as reported in the NY Times in an article by Ken Belson called "Importing a Decongestant for Midtown Streets"

In a taste of the future, Singapore, which has dabbled in congestion pricing perhaps longer than any city, is working with I.B.M. and others to develop technology that will predict traffic up to an hour in advance. The system fuses congestion fee data with information from video cameras, G.P.S. devices in taxis and sensors embedded in streets.

I laud the achievements of all involved in developing this very sophisticated software. I don't feel, however, that it will ever allow transportation based on wheeled vehicles to be much better than it is now. Better predictions of traffic flow will help traffic management specialists, for sure, and will let them make wiser choices about adding capacity, or restricting traffic with congestion pricing. But, no amount of predicting will ever allow automobiles and trucks to function smoothly in ice, snow, driving rain or fog. And no simulation will truly expand capacity as required to handle the extensive slowdowns that all metropolitan areas - suburbs as well as inner cities - experience. These periods of peak congestion often called "rush hour", but more appropriately "rush hours", having stretched out in many cases to three or four hour periods twice each work day.

As for congestion pricing, it can work in some ways where there is an alternative to driving a car in the restricted zone. Inner cities with mass transit, like London, have reduced car usage to somewhat because the mass transit of subways and buses does allow an alternative for those who don't want to pay the congestion surcharge. But, this will not work where the automobile is the only means to commute, and for the USA, at least, that is the case for the majority of people needing to travel. And even inner cities, by increasing demand on the mass transit, are still relying on either exceptionally costly to expand subway systems, or buses and perhaps light rail, which are at the mercy of the weather, just like all wheel based vehicles.

The only real answer to congestion is a transportation system where capacity is easily expanded, and works in all communities. The Aeroduct System that I have developed, and which I have discussed in numerous other blog posts, is transportation as it should be. Of course, it will still be important to predict in advance peak transportation periods, but in conjunction with the Aeroduct System, such simulation software can truly be of use. With its lightweight, easily elevated and stackable guideways, lower cost vehicles, inherent automation, weather immunity and numerous other advantages over wheel based systems, no community will ever experience long, frustrating periods of congestion. No community's transportation will be completely shut down due to the vagaries of weather. Traffic management will become an enabler on a scale magnitudes better than would ever be possible with cars and trucks.

I invite all those who are trying to make today's transportation better to investigate the Aeroduct System. They will find that their goals can finally be achieved.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Automation Yes, Automobiles No

Ryan D. Lamm writes about the latest developments for automating automobiles in his article "Driven to It", published in the November/December, 2008 edition of Thinking Highways North America. He summarizes his perspective with the sentences "A self-chauffeured vehicle is crossing over from the sphere of science fiction into the realm of reality in the foreseeable future.", and "Removing the driver from control of the vehicle has the potential to revolutionize what surface transportation might look like".

I completely agree with Mr. Lamm that self-chauffeured vehicles are exactly what ground transportation needs. But, in spite of the interesting and innovative technologies that are being developed to allow automobiles to be more and more guided automatically, I feel that relying on wheeled vehicles will greatly limit the possibility and the benefits of complete automation. In earlier posts on this blog, I've pointed out the disadvantages of the basic premise of wheeled vehicles:
  1. their susceptibility to weather (no matter how completely automated),
  2. their need for miles of paved over green space in the form of roadways and parking lots
  3. the great expense of their required infrastructure of roads and bridges,
  4. the impossibility of accommodating peak demand with just the ground level surface, and the impossibly high costs of elevating roads
  5. the dangerous interaction of automobiles, even automated, with pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals, who also must use the ground level
  6. the cost of the vehicles themselves, which will become more expensive with the additional automation accessories.
Mr. Lamm's goals of "rush hour, without traffic jams", "trauma centers without motor vehicle accidents", "reducing, or even eliminating, motor vehicle fatalities altogether" are laudable indeed. But, only a new type of vehicle and a new type of infrastructure can ever yield truly ideal automated transportation. That is why I've worked on a technology that uses lightweight, inexpensive air cushion vehicles of any size in lightweight, inexpensive, elevated guideways. I call this the Aeroduct System, and I've talked about it in previous blog entries and on the Aeromobile website. The automation of such a system will be considerably easier than implementing all the technologies - described quite well in Mr. Lamm's article - that will be necessary to automate cars and trucks. And, for each of the disadvantages of wheeled vehicles on paved roads that I enumerated above, I now list the corresponding advantages of the Aeroduct System:
  1. The Aeroduct System is not influenced by snow, ice, rain or fog.
  2. No paving is required for the guideways or for temporarily "parked" vehicles.
  3. The lightweight guideways of the Aeroduct System will cost far less to build and maintain than the many miles of asphalt and concrete needed for automobiles.
  4. The capacity of the Aeroduct System can be easily increased, with guideways stacked horizontally and vertically.
  5. Pedestrians, bicyclists and animals will rule the ground surface, with the transparent/translucent Aeroduct guideways a safe distance overhead.
  6. The air cushion vehicles in the guideways are mechanically far simpler than cars or trucks, more efficient in their use of fuel, and more easily automated.
We will all benefit from the research that is developing the new sensing, communication and control technologies Mr. Lamm discusses quite well. But if we really want to have transportation system that achieves the goals he sets forth in his article, we have to travel away from the age of automobiles towards the age of air cushion vehicles in guideways.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We can't get there from here

In an earlier post, I talked about the proposed new replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, and the high costs of just that one bridge.

In an article from eight years ago in the NY Times, author David W. Chen talked about the plans back then for replacing the bridge. He also made these general points about trying to increase capacity for highways or bridges:
Not so many years ago, it was common wisdom that the only way to relieve highway congestion was to add new lanes. Now the common wisdom, supported by several recent studies, is that expanding a road usually leads to substantial increases in the number of vehicles on it. ''Adding highway capacity to solve traffic congestion is like buying larger pants to deal with your weight problem,'' said Michael Replogle, transportation director of the advocacy group Environmental Defense, in Washington.

So in New Jersey, the state transportation commissioner, James Weinstein, could go before a business group last week and utter words that would have been heresy in that car-besotted state just a few years ago: ''We're past the period where adding lanes is the solution to traffic congestion, make no mistake about that.''
And, that of course, is why the current wheel based ground transportation system is at maximum capacity, a capacity that cannot be increased, and a capacity that will require enormous expenditures just to stay at the same level. In other words, cars and trucks on roads will overall become bottlenecks as the USA (and world) population continue to increase, slowing down the economic and social progress of society, and yet still requiring huge sums of money to keep infrastructures usable.

For this reason alone - and there are numerous others - we can't seriously consider today's transportation system as belonging to the future. Unless it is replaced by something much more flexible and far less expensive, our future will be all the less desirable. Those who have been reading these blog entries know that my company, Aeromobile Inc., has developed a ground transportation system consisting of air cushion vehicles in elevated guideways. We call it the Aeroduct System, and its many advantages are given on our website and in earlier blog posts. For the purpose of today's blog, the advantage I want to promote is how it will allow capacity for travel along the surface or across rivers to greatly increase. There will be no bottlenecks, and congestion will become something of the past.

The Aeroduct guideways will be much lighter than paved roads and much cheaper to build. And they will be orders of magnitude lighter and cheaper than elevated pavement, including bridges. The guideways can be stacked vertically or horizontally, allow infinite expansion of capcacity as needed. Automation of the air cushion vehicles in the guideways will allow faster speeds than cars and more consistency in vehicle movement. Even one aeroduct guideway will allow more throughput than a road of today, and it will be much simpler and cheaper to add guideways when the demand is there. And, aeroducts will carry vehicles of any size, so air cushion trucks as well as air cushion cars will be used.

If we stick with cars, trucks, paved roads, expensive and woefully overloaded bridges, we won't get to any sort of promising future. We'll be stuck in the traffic of a now obsolete technology, and spending all our money for that dubious privilege. With the Aeroduct System, we have the technology enjoy a liberating means of travel instead of a continuing to suffer from an increasingly constrictive one. I invite anyone with any interest in a better future to let me know what he or she thinks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Going in the Right Direction

The cover of the November, 2008 Popular Science magazine features a proposed design for an four passenger tilt wing vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The design has unique features, including the use of an electric/piston engine hybrid power system, which leads to a lightweight craft. The story can also be seen on the Popular Science website.

I applaud all attempts to create vertical take off and landing airplanes for trying to take general aviation in the right direction. Airplanes should take and and land in the minimum amount of space, and runways and airports should be only for the really large jets. However, I do have some issues with this design by a British company called Falx. Many of these remarks are similar to those I made about the V-22 Osprey in other blog entries.

  • I believe that tilt wing (and tilt rotor) have a design flaw in that one of the propellers can get caught in its own turbulence as is comes in for a landing. This is known as vortex ring state.
  • The laterally disposed rotors present an asymmetrical lift situation, and any unequal lift from one or the other propellers can cause severe roll moments. It is essential to have centerline thrust
  • In total power failure or “running out of gas“, a tilt wing aircraft is a free falling body. It cannot use its wing for gliding flight to non disastrous landing, because the large propellers will impact the ground on landing and crash the craft. Again, neither can it autorotate its propellers like a helicopter, allowing a hard but survivable landing.
  • I believe the Falx tilt wing machine is grossly under-powered. A four place helicopter can lift 4 passengers with 150 h.p., because of it 40 foot diameter rotor. Thrust efficiency of rotors is directly proportional to the swept area of the rotors or propellers. To lift four people with two puny single rotating propellers of the tilt wing will require more than 1000 h.p. It is inconceivable that batteries and the proposed 104 HP engine can muster that power and be light enough to fly horizontally, long take off, much less vertically, or VTOL.
I'm not saying any of this to deter the Falx people or any other aviation inventors. I think it is good that others are pursuing the "Holy Grail" of general aviation, which is adding vertical flight to a fixed wing aircraft. I have spent many years - 55 of them in fact - exploring VTOL technology, and I really do think that the elements of my Arc Wing VTOL airplane are important to the proper design of any aircraft that will take off and land vertically. These elements include center line thrust, large dual-rotating propellers, the deflected slipstream approach to vertical flight, and the Arc Wing, which has unique lift. More about this craft can bee seen at our website and other blog entries.

In the 1940s and 50s, a lot of government sponsored research was performed on all sorts of approaches to vertical flight. In those pre space race days, innovation in aviation, including VTOL, received a lot of attention and funding. Many of the VTOL designs of those days had issues that limited their effectiveness, and others petered out when aviation funding was greatly decreased. Those extent of the approaches to VTOL can be seen in Micheal Hirschberg's exceptionally comprehensive VTOL wheel of misfortune.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bridging the Gap

On September 26th, the New York State Department of Transportation issued a press release which announced "PROPOSAL FOR TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE & I-287 CORRIDOR UNVEILED Team Recommends Bridge Replacement, Addition of Bus Rapid Transit & Commuter Rail."

Tappan Zee Bridge is located about twenty five miles north of New York City, and is almost three miles long, including approach ramps. It was built in the early 1950s, is very heavily used, and the New York State Department of Transportation must do something about either extensively refurbishing it or replacing it. The press release indicates that remodeling it is not a viable option:
The Tappan Zee Bridge, constructed 52 years ago, was built according to prevailing standards in the early 1950s. While the bridge is safe, its design does not meet current national standards for structural elements and some of its deficiencies can not be addressed – even in the most robust rehabilitation scenarios – because of the structure’s basic design characteristics.
The replacement plan (or plans, since there are several options) and cost(s) are as follows:
Full implementation of the project team’s proposal would cost: $6.4 billion for a new bridge accepting bus rapid transit and commuter rail transit; $2.9 billion for bus rapid transit and highway improvements; and $6.7 billion for the build-out of commuter rail transit in the future.
The Tappan Zee Bridge proposal is notable for certain reasons:

1) It will cost a great deal of money, especially with the options for including rapid buses and a rail line. Because it spans one of the widest points of the Hudson River, it is a long bridge, requires many supports and therefore more preventive and actual maintenance.

2) The project reinforces the idea of transportation corridors. For cars or trucks to traverse the Hudson, they must all converge on the area of the bridge. There is no bridge within twenty miles north or south of this one. The mass transit additions of lanes for rapid buses and commuter trains further accentuates the bridge as being an important transportation artery; in other words, confining transportation to a corridor.

Considering the great cost of any new bridge, the focus on making this one even more of a transportation artery by adding mass transit capacity isn't surprising. On the one hand, we can look at this as confining travel to across the Hudson to just one structure for over 50 miles. But, to broaden the transportation corridor by building another bridge perhaps 10 miles to the south or to the north would not only require great expenditures of money on this other bridge, but would require new roads to take people to the bridge, adding even more expense.

Every place where transportation requires bridges endures bottlenecks and safety issues beyond those of just roads. Bridge costs for creation and maintenance are very high. As I've said in earlier posts, bridges are hammered day and night by heavy cars and even heavier trucks. And, adding special lanes for fast buses or trains will increase the load on the bridge, requiring more support, more maintenance and more expense. Certainly the mass transit additions to the bridge decrease dependence on cars, but they still add to the pounding the bridge must endure.

Our Aeroduct System will also need to cross rivers, but will require much less support and will endure far, far less pounding from the vehicles in the system. The pressure exerted by air cushion vehicles on their guideways (or "roads") is very light. An Aeroduct bridge would require some supports for longer spans, like that bridged at Tappan Zee, but these supports would be fewer and more lightweight. So, more crossings of the Hudson or other bodies of water could be built, all for much less money, putting an end to clogged transportation arteries. And, the guideways can be stacked horizontally or vertically, allowing far more throughput than current bridges.

It should be clear that any attempts to "upgrade" existing infrastructure for wheel based infrastructure will be hugely expensive and do little to decrease the congestion and high maintenance made necessary by the nature of that infrastructure. The Aeroduct System will cost money to implement, but it has far more potential than the roads and bridges of today, and will be vastly cheaper to build or maintain, will be safer, weather immune, faster and extensible. Faced with what will be a trillion dollar budget to just keep our existing roads and bridges from falling apart, and that is without adding any new capacity, shouldn't we be looking for an alternative?

Here is a color sketch of an Aeroduct "tube" crossing a river. As you can see, it uses open guideways leading up to the bridge, and then a closed tube across the water. A complete tube has inherent built in support, ideal for a span. If the river were wider than shown below, supports anchored on the river bed would also be needed.

From my perspective, we can continue to spend all sorts of money on keeping alive a transportation system that has many drawbacks, or we can spend our money building an entirely new system with many advantages. To find out more, here are links the Aeroduct System website and to other blog entries.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crowded Streets

On September 19th, as reported by station CBS 2 in Los Angeles, one of the light rail lines in that city, the Blue Line, collided with a out of service bus. Fortunately, injuries to the 15 passengers of the light rail train were not major. But, if the bus had been in service, there could have been many more injuries.

Light rail is used in numerous cities to transport people relatively quickly along fixed corridors. Like the streetcars of the old days, these light rail trains operate on the same street level as cars, trucks, buses, and pedestrians (In the old days, there were horses, too). This makes for a crowded transportation environment, and crashes involving light rail trains on the one hand and cars and buses on the other hand have occurred with some frequency. This is what one would expect when all transportation occurs on the same level. Certainly, there are safety measures to limit the number of these kinds of light rail accidents, but coordinating the activities of trains, buses, trucks, cars, bicycles and people walking all on the same streets and sidewalks is quite a challenge.

And, confining transportation to one level inherently limits the number of people who can travel. Congestion is the norm on many streets. At Aeromobile Inc., we think it is far better to elevate vehicle transportation, leaving the ground level for pedestrians and bicycles. This would not only make travel far safer for all involved, but much more efficient. Our Aeroduct System can be elevated with lightweight, transparent or translucent guideways, operating over the heads of those walking, and causing far less shadowing than any other form of raised level transportation.

Putting trains or cars or buses overhead is very expensive, since those elevated structures must be made very strong to sustain constant weight and pounding. In addition, they create quite a shadow on the ground below. New York City had for many years its "El" trains running on most of the north south avenues in Manhattan. Increased subway coverage rendered these Els obsolete and they were removed by the 1950s. The shadowing caused by the structures necessary to support those overhead trains was considerable, and most considered that undesirable. In our times, in the "Loop" area of Chicago, its elevated trains converge and there is pronounced shadowing on a number of streets.

Since the Aeroduct System uses air cushion vehicles in its guideways, those guideways do not have to carry the enormous weight and endure the tremendous pounding generated by automobiles, trucks, buses and trains. They can be made out of lightweight materials, of any degree of transparency or of any color. Not only could the guideways look attractive, their shadowing effect could be very minimal. And, the Aeroduct System is a very efficient in the way it transports vehicles, so more travelling and yet fewer traffic slowdowns will be the norm. All of this will require less cost, both for the guideways and the efficient air cushion vehicles in the guideways.

You can read about the many advantages of the Aeroduct System at the Aeromobile Inc. website and other blog entries.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hydrogen Solutions

In the September 23rd edition of the New York Times, Jad Mouawad's article called "Pumping Hydrogen" discusses the opening of a Shell station in Santa Monica, California, that is the first public filling station in the USA for hydrogen used in fuel-cell cars. This seminal event bodes well for the future, but as Mr. Mouawad points out:
And many energy companies remain skeptical of the long-term prospects for hydrogen, arguing, among other things, that even with government help the infrastructure costs would be enormous. ...

The largest obstacle remains the size and cost of the infrastructure needed to produce and distribute the hydrogen. The nagging issue is how to replicate a model that has served the petroleum age so well, and that was developed over a century.
There is no question that without an infrastructure for dispensing hydrogen for fuel-cell cars, not many of those cars will be made or used, their prices will remain uneconomical, and the potential of hydrogen will remain unfulfilled.

I've said it before, and I remake the point. Our Aeroduct System is the best way to implement hydrogen as the vehicle fuel of the future. The Aeroduct System, consisting of air cushion vehicles traversing lightweight elevated guideways, already represents a complete change in the ground transportation infrastructure. Implementing hydrogen fueling stations in this new infrastructure would be just another task needed to complete the new infrastructure. As the elevated guideways are built, the hydrogen fueling stations would become stops (or stations) along the guideways, along with stops for homes, offices, hospitals, schools, and so on.

And, not only will building a new infrastructure allow for complete integration of hydrogen stations into the Aeroduct System, the vehicles in the Aeroduct are the best at using the fuel. They need less power than automobiles, and are automated so they can refuel with or without anyone in the vehicle. Less hydrogen will be needed for powering the air cushion craft, and automated refueling will mean less human effort and less risk for fueling mishaps.

I believe hydrogen is the best fuel for the future. Of the main impediments facing employment of this non polluting fuel, the Aeroduct System solves the problem of how to build hydrogen fueling stations that are abundant as needed, and it simultaneously provides an economy of scale for fuel cell makers. The numerous craft in the Aeroduct will all use hydrogen fuel cells, and that will greatly decrease the costs of making fuel cells.

You can read about the many other advantages of the Aeroduct System at the Aeromobile Inc. website and other blog entries.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Building Better Bridges

Roads and Bridges magazine devotes itself to issues related to today's wheel based transportation infrastructure consisting, as the journal's name suggests, primarily of roads and bridges. In the August 2008 edition, editor Bill Wilson in his article "Ahead of Its Time" summarizes the successes in building the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis. This new bridge replaces the prior one that collapsed without warning in August of 2007. The article points out the faster than expected progress that was made, and the challenges faced in trying to quickly replace the faulty structure that had fallen last August.

From his article, it is clear that much intelligence and planning were involved in building the new bridge. This accomplishment reflects the many years of experience by those who designed and built the new structure. In the same publication,
authors John Chiglo and Alan Phipps in their article "Brain waves over water waves" talk about the advanced technologies employed in the bridge that would help alert authorities to any potential problems before any serious failure.

In many ways, the new Minneapolis I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge represents the state of the art in infrastructure design and construction. Of course, all of this costs a great deal of money: $234,000,000 was the bid made by the primary contractor and the design team. Given the large number of bridges in the USA, some far longer that the one in Minneapolis, replacing all bridges with this kind of new construction will cost a very large amount of money. When the original Minneapolis bridge collapsed, many were worried that other bridges could suffer a similar fate, since many were reaching the end of their original projected lifespan, and just about all bridges, new or old, support more traffic than they were originally designed to hold.

Cars and trucks give bridges a tremendous pounding, which is why they must be built strong in the first place, and why they wear out over time. Their cement and steel components must be strong because the bridge is doing a yeoman's job in allowing thousands and thousands of heavy vehicles to cross over water. So, these bridges must be costly to build and costly to maintain, and of finite lifespan.

There is way to better use all that money needed to build bridges (and roads and elevated roads, too). A transportation system that does not require massive bridges would be much more efficient and economical. Our Aeroduct System, discussed in these blog entries, and on our website, will require passage over water in guideways that are far lighter, cheaper and longer lasting than any automobile/truck bridge could be. Bridges today are basically beat with a hammer every second of every day as heavy cars and even heavier trucks cross them. In contrast, the vehicles in our Aeroduct System glide through their guideways on a cushion of air, having a very light touch on the guideway surface. Aeroduct bridges can still be built using the intelligence and advanced sensing technologies available for cement and steel bridges, but with lighter and more flexible materials and much longer lifespans.

The color sketch below shows the simplicity of an Aeroduct bridge crossing a river. For wider rivers or other bodies of water, supports would be needed for the guideway, but those supports will have much less work to do than the supports for the bridges of today. The replacement of the much of our aging bridge infrastructure with the Aeroduct infrastructure would save a great amount of money in the building and maintenance of the structures, and the safety of using them. This is just one way of many Aeroduct System installations can make transportation far better than it is today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Sikorsky X-2: A Half Way Solution

As reported by Aviation Week and Flight Global, Sikorsky has recently completed the first test flight of its X2 high speed, compound helicopter. Sikorsky expects this rotorcraft to have a maximum speed of 250 knots when all stages of testing are complete. The X2 has been in development this decade, and is a follow up to the Advancing Blade Concept Demonstrator of the 1970s known as the Sikorsky S-69 / XH-59. The new X2 is using fly-by-wire controls to help minimize blade vibration that created problems for the earlier S-69 / XH-59.

If the X2 can really fly at 250 knots, it will be about 100 knots faster than most helicopters today. That is a quite significant advance in rotorcraft speed, and Sikorsky should be commended for this advance. A reasonably fast vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft is certainly desirable.

But, at Aeromobile Inc. we think that faster helicopters are still not the ideal VTOL craft. We prefer an airplane with vertical capabilities to a helicopter that flies faster. Our reasons include:
  • Airplanes are inherently safer than helicopters, requiring less maintenance and glidable to earth when power fails. All rotorcraft must have a minimum altitude usually 1500 feet to auto rotate, and it remains to be seen how well the counter-rotating rotors of the X2 auto rotate in the event of power loss.
  • With the X2, the slowing of the rotors to prevent them from going supersonic and vibrating excessively has to be done with computer assistance (the"fly-by-wire" element of the control system). This adds complexity, and we will see how reliable that control system works. We feel that complexity means more expense and more risk for failure.
  • The requirement of special rotorcraft training, and the high price limits the availability of helicopters to many that need vertical flight.
  • Helicopters basically force themselves in the air and need constant rotor action to remain in the air. They do not have the aerodynamic efficiencies of airplanes and consume more fuel, which in periods of high fuel costs makes them even more expensive and therefore less available.
We have touted our Arc Wing VTOL Airplane many times in this blog and on our website. We still feel that an airplane with vertical flight capabilities is the best VTOL of all. Our Arc Wing VTOL will fly 100 knots faster than the proposed 250 knots of the X2. It is mechanically far simpler than any helicopter, especially the more complex X2. It can be flown by an airplane pilot without any computer assistance or complicated mechanisms in changing from vertical to horizontal mode and vice-versa. And, with its simpler design, it will be considerably less expensive to build and operate than a fast helicopter.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Safe Flying, Part II

In this entry, I'm continuing my comments on the USA Today August 18th article by Chris Woodyard and Sharon Silke Carty titled "Inventors are sure cars can fly". The inventors featured in the story all see the convenience of travel through the air. As the authors state: "Of all those stuck stewing in traffic gridlock, who hasn't imagined soaring Jetsons-style directly to a destination?".

In Part I of my response, I give my thoughts on "roadable aircraft" and "flying cars", and how these vehicles fall short of safety for use by most people as a means of transportation. But the idea of traveling off the ground has its obvious merits: no paving over of green space; no collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or animals; much increased capacity. I have presented before my Arc Wing VTOL airplane as the ideal form of safe air transportation, but I don't envision it as a personal flying car. Piloting any aircraft is far more challenging than driving an automobile, which has its own requirements of age, sobriety, alertness and training.

What I propose for general transportation in my Aeroduct System. It too is off the ground, consisting of elevated guideways that can be stacked vertically. The vehicles in these guideways glide on a cushion of air. In other words, these craft fly at a very low altitude of perhap six inches [15.2 cm]. Being confined in the groove, they can be easily automated and thereby available to anyone, regardless of age, sobriety, alertness or training. This is really the safest form of flying, many times safer than any aircraft available today or any time in the future. The bane of pilots, wind, thunderstorms, snow, ice, rain, do not deter the Aeroduct vehicles from making their appointed rounds. And yet the goal of removing transportation from ground level, with all the accompanying advantages that brings, is met. A sketch of an vehicle in an elevated Aeroduct is below, as is a photo of a prototype in action.

I propose, then, aircraft at low altitude in elevated guideways as the best form of a "flying car" (or perhaps "non-road aircraft") possible. This Aeroduct System has many other advantages, among which are that it allows going "directly to a destination", the very understandable goal stated in the USA Today story. I have related all the desirable characteristics of the Aeroduct System in other blog entries and on the website of my company. I invite you, whether or not you have any interest at all in aviation, to look into this very safe, very advantageous form of flying suitable for everyone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Safe Flying, Part I

The USA Today of August 18th has an article by Chris Woodyard and Sharon Silke Carty titled "Inventors are sure cars can fly". This story reviews current attempts to create automobiles that can also fly, which I would call "roadable aircraft", and personal vehicles that take off and land anywhere, which I would call "flying cars".

Regarding the "roadable" aircraft designs that add wings or some other lift mechanism to a wheeled vehicle, the problems of safety, good performance as a car and as an aircraft, and the price are obvious hindrances. On top of that, these designs require taking off and landing at an airport, which precludes true point to point transportation. But, my biggest concern is safety. Piloting airplanes is not something to be taken casually. To be fair, according to the USA Today article, most of the inventors of the diverse group of roadable aircraft are targeting people who are already small plane pilots. The substantial difference between obtaining and keeping a pilots license and an automobile license, the rigorous testing of a new airplane design that the FAA requires, and the increased maintenance needed by aircraft all point to safety concerns unique to a craft that travels through the sky.

I believe roadable planes are not for the average citizen. The best airplane is a safe airplane, and that requires not only a aerodynamically proper design, it also requires a pilot who can handle the craft properly, in many different kinds of weather. Also, I feel a roadable airplane is not a really big advantage. Having a airplane that can also travel on roads seems better because conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) airplanes need an airport for departure and takeoff, and also require an automobile for getting to and from the airports. But, what if the airplane could take off and land vertically? There would be no need for the automobile part of the journey. A traveler could go from his real departure point to his real destination.

Of course, I am not the only person who promulgates the advantages of vertical flight craft. In the USA Today article, some of the inventors cited want to offer vehicles that can take off and land virtually anywhere, in other words, flying cars. My main concern with their approach is again, safety. I don't think the technologies employed by these inventors are safe enough. As I said in my blog entry about the Osprey V-22 tilt rotor aircraft, "In total power failure or 'running out of gas', the V-22 is a free falling body below 1600 feet altitude. It cannot use its wing for gliding flight to non disastrous landing,". I also criticized that aircraft as being overly complex. I would say the same about the technologies that are currently proposed to create truly flying cars. They require redundancies and complexities that decrease safety, and they do not have wings that can be used for gliding to safety in the event of a major mechanical failure. They have no air worthiness on their own. And, it is completely unknown what level of skill will be required to pilot these kind of craft safely. Again even if these vehicles can be made to work effectively, which is yet to be seen, could they ever be piloted by most people?

Those of you who have read my blog entries before know that I propose a VTOL airplane, which has the built in safety characteristics of winged craft, and yet can take off and land vertically. I call it the Arc Wing VTOL airplane. A sketch of it is below. You can read more about this unique airplane at previous blog entries, or at the website of my company.

I think this is the best way to eliminate the need for a vehicle to have both wheels and wings. But this craft is for those who are airplane pilots or have a pilot at their disposal. I don't advocate it as a replacement for all transportation. I have another way that "flight" of a certain kind can be used for more general transport. In part II of my response to the USA Today article, I will elaborate on that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ideal Fuel for Ideal Transportation

I've discoursed quite a bit about the Aeroduct System, which consists of air cushion vehicles in elevated guideways. You can learn the many advantages of this ground transportation system from earlier blogposts, or from the Aeromobile website.

Today, my focus in on the important advantages of the Aeroduct System with regard to fuels and the fueling process. Our vehicles can use any fuel, petroleum or otherwise. However, I think the future of energy belongs to hydrogen. There are many technological considerations concerning the production and distribution of hydrogen, but in the long run, I feel it is the most environmentally advantageous way to power vehicles.

One of the big expenses in moving towards a "hydrogen economy" is the need for a new infrastructure that distributes this fuel. As John Dodge, Editor-in-Chief of Design News says in his July 15th article, "Despite the extensive progress auto makers have made in developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV), energy companies have largely sat on the sidelines with only a couple of exceptions in building out a refueling infrastructure." For automobiles to make use of hydrogen, the refueling stations will have to be as plentiful as gasoline stations are now for drivers to not feel inconvenienced. This component alone of the hydrogen economy will be a big expense to construct.

With the Aeroduct System, we have the significant advantage of building the refueling locations as part of the Aeroduct infrastructure. As the Aeroduct transportation system is implemented, hydrogen refueling stations can be conveniently located within the system. And, just as travel in the Aeroduct System is completely automated, so will be the fueling process. It can be done with or without passengers in the vehicle, at any time of day or night. The Aeroduct System is intended to replace automobiles and trucks as the chief form of ground transportation. Concomitant with that will be replacement of petroleum based fuels with hydrogen. So, we will have ideal fuel for the ideal transportation system.

We certainly welcome a dialog with those interested in the future of transportation and the future of energy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Civilian Tilt Rotor Baggage

The Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor has been in the works for a over 10 years, as reported by an August, 2007 article in Aviation International News (AIN) called "As time passes, operators question BA609 appeal". That article goes on to relate the diminishing interest by potential buyers of the craft. A more recent article in 2008 by Aero News Net, titled "BA609 Tiltrotor Makes Its First Appearance At Show", further confirms this by saying "but officials at the American helicopter manufacturer [Bell] have recently signalled the market they once saw for the aircraft has declined significantly in today's economic conditions."

From our perspective, an airplane that can take off and land vertically like a helicopter and also fly as fast and with the same ease as a fixed wing aircraft is the ideal. So, why are people losing interest in the BA609? The primary reason is cost: almost $20,000,000 for a plane that carries eight or nine passengers. With that kind of money, one could buy several helicopters or about five very light jets (VLJs). Other issues quoted by the AIN article are: that the craft is "too big for use on standard helipads and yet too small for comfortable executive charter." Given the already existing helipads in major cities, oil rigs, company campuses, hospitals and private homes, an vertical flight airplane must be able to use them, or it will require an set of such landing pads of its own.

We've already talked before about the inherent weaknesses of a tilt rotor design. That technology is not the most efficient and most reliable way to add vertical flight capability to an airplane. The lack of efficiency and the potential safety problems is what has swollen the cost of the BA609 to far more than any of the competing aviation modes: helicopter or fixed wing plane. We think it just is not possible to build a tilt rotor vertical take off and landing (VTOL) craft without spending money on redundant computer systems and other complexities, thereby inflating the cost considerably.

We do offer an alternative: our Arc Wing VTOL airplane. By using deflected slipstream technology, which we think is the most efficient (the most elegant, really) approach to vertical flight, our craft will cost about the same as a VLJ and will be far more inherently safe than a tilt rotor craft (or even helicopters) due to the simplicity and aerodynamic qualities of the design. We invited all those interested in the best possible VTOL airplane to look into our proposal. The Arc Wing VTOL can be scaled from four passengers to far more. The smaller ones will easily work with existing helipads. The larger craft will have to be accommodated as per their size. In all cases, the cost will be similar to turbine fixed wing planes of corresponding size.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Curing Congestion

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has an program called Focus on Congestion Relief. It certainly seems appropriate the FHWA would address the problem of increasing traffic congestion. They define the sources of congestion as:

Bottlenecks—points where the roadway narrows or regular traffic demands cause traffic to backup–are the largest source of congestion.
Traffic incidents—crashes, stalled vehicles, debris on the road–cause about 1/4 of congestion problems.
Work zones—for new road building and maintenance activities like filling potholes–are caused by necessary activities, but the amount of congestion caused by these actions can be reduced by a variety of strategies.
Bad weather cannot be controlled, but travelers can be notified of the potential for increased congestion.
Poor traffic signal timing—the faulty operation of traffic signals or green/red lights where the time allocation for a road does not match the volume on that road–are a source of congestion on major and minor streets.
Special events cause "spikes" in traffic volumes and changes in traffic patterns. These irregularities either cause delay on days, times or locations where there usually is none, or add to regular congestion problems.

As the FHWA suggests, each of these congestion contributors can be mitigated. But, some can be influenced more than others, only at much expense, and in the case of weather, not much at all. And, the main source of congestion - more transportation demand than can be supplied - can never be solved with roads, unless we pave over vastly more green space.

What the FHWA says about combatting congestion is all the more evidence that something completely different is needed for ground transportation. As the population of the USA grows, particularly in parts of the country already experiencing traffic problems, only a ground transportation system that is expandable, weather immune, with few accidents, free of the need for extensive maintenance (i.e. road work) and automated so that no traffic signals or signs are needed will be suitable. Otherwise, time spent in traffic can only increase.

Our Aeromobile-Aeroduct System is exactly what is needed to cure congestion. Its rights of way (ROW) are lightweight and stackable for easy expansion of capacity. It is weather immune, and as an automated system will be without the accidents caused by bad weather and bad driving. Traffic control is automatically built into the system, so poorly coordinated traffic signals won't even exist. Transportation will not longer be a hindrance; instead it will be an enabler. We invite contact from all those who really want travel in the future to be ideal.

You can see more of our blog posts on this subject at:

and far more information about the Aeroduct System and all its advantages at:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Safety in the Snow

In April of 2008, the NY Times published an article called The Last Frontier of Flying by writer Weld Royal. It relates the great need for flying general aviation (GA) craft as the only means for travel for most of the state of Alaska. But the article points out how dangerous flying can be in the 49th state. There are few official airports in Alaska, and weather can be volatile. The article quotes the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as saying pilots in "the state died at a rate nearly 100 times the mortality rate for all American workers, and over five times the rate for pilots nationwide."

Most general aviation accidents occur at takeoff or landing. In a places such as Alaska, where even small airports are not common, the need that GA aircraft have for long stretches of smooth surface for takeoff and landing work against safe flying. We feel this is yet another reason to develop an aircraft with vertical flight capabilities. As readers of this blog know by now, we happen to have such a craft, our Arc Wing VTOL airplane. It can take off and land just about anywhere, needing a smooth surface only the size of a helipad. This kind of GA aircraft would be the safest possible way to fly around Alaska, or any other place

Here are more blog entries on our vertical flight craft.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grow the Market

A few days ago, the well respected general aviation (GA) manufacturer, Mooney Airplane Company of Kerrville, Texas USA, announced layoffs and reductions in output out their aircraft. Mooney has long been known for the performance and reliability of their piston aircraft. But, with all piston-engine aircraft sales recently slowing by 28 percent in the USA market, Mooney has had to retrench.

Of course, we wish Mooney the best in the future, as we do all general aviation companies. But, we think they'd be much better off looking into the arena of vertical take off aircraft in order to grow the market. Conventional GA fixed wing aircraft, no matter how well built and no matter how stylish are going to be a limited market: for travel from one airport to another. What people really want is to travel from where they are to to their precise destination. Vertical flight airplanes give the flexibility of much more convenient take off and landing locations, and the fast speed and flight smoothness of fixed wing aircraft.

We invite Mooney and all other GA manufacturers to look at our design for a vertical airplane. We call it the Arc Wing VTOL airplane, due to the unique arc shape of the wing. We've posted a number of blogs entries on this design. And, our website gives much more information, including documents presented to aviation conferences, and videos. We feel our aircraft will broaden the appeal of general aviation, and that can only help everyone involved with it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Really Safe Design

The June, 2008 edition of Design News Magazine has as its cover story an article called "The Biggest Thing in Safety." In this interesting article, the author Charles J. Murray, senior technical electronics editor of the magazine, discusses the development of dedicated short range communication (DSRC) devices that allow vehicles to communicate with each other. Mr. Murray feels these devices when implemented on a broad scale "..will save more lives than seat belts, more than air bags and more than electronic stability control". They will create truly intelligent vehicles that can tell each other when road conditions are bad, when there are accidents, when there are unexpected obstacles, and based on this feedback, cars themselves will react, thereby reducing accidents. The proponents of this technology say that between 60 and 90 percent of road fatalities can be prevented.

We at Aeromobile Inc. are all for reducing accidents and fatalities, and agree that more intelligent automobiles can make the roads safer. There are a number of approaches to intelligent highways and intelligent cars that no doubt will improve safety and even help congestion in certain ways. But, we don't think that the many disadvantages of cars are mitigated enough by making them more intelligent. There is still the issue of bad weather, with ice, snow and heavy rain that will constrain how much safety can be improved. Cars have poor traction under a number of weather conditions. And, even cars driven more efficiently with the help of intelligent devices will still have to travel on the ground level, which is also where pedestrians and animals travel as well, and that "conflict of interest" will still continue.

And, even intelligent cars will need expensive paved roads, and acres of parking lots, and congestion will still be a big issue, since only so much throughput can occur on one planar surface. Even with more built in smarts, cars, trucks and roads are not the ideal transportation system. We still maintain that our Aeroduct System of ground transportation incorporates the intelligence that designers hope to incorporate in cars, and by not needing paved roads and parking lots, is a lot more environmentally appropriate. It's also much less expensive to build and operate, and it can be expanded considerably more easily. We invite anyone interested in making ground transportation truly safe and truly better in all respects to talk to us about our Aeroduct System.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Arc Wing Versus Planar Wing

In the June 2008 edition of Flying Magazine, noted aviation expert and writer Peter Garrison writes about the forces associated with airplane lift in a very interesting article titled "The Bernouilli Brigade". He discusses at length why the lift possible from a wing is less than one would think. Here is some of what he says:
"The pressure difference between upper and lower surfaces causes spillage at the tips - this is the reason for the tip vortex - and robs the wing of 5 to 10 percent of its theoretical lift. Another loss occurs at the center of the wing where the fuselage interrupts air flow. The imaginary portion of the wing that lies within the - reported wing area includes this hidden part - produces in reality, no lift. But changes in the pressure are gradual, not instantaneous, and so the effect of the fuselage is to produce a dip rather than a sharp-edged gap in the spanwise distribution of lift. Depending on the fraction of the wing that lies within the fuselage, another 10 or 15 percent of potential lift may be lost here."
He also refers to the losses from the tips of the non-spanwise flaps.

His article deals with the loss of lift of the straight or planar wing. At Aeromobile Inc., we think our arc wing obviates several of these losses. In my previous blog entry, called "A Wing that Really Lifts", I list all the reasons the arc wing has superior lift to the planar wing. Here I will just mention a few:
  1. The arc wing has inherent "winglets" and minimal tip vortices to reduce that 5 to 10 percent of lift of the straight wing.
  2. There is no fuselage interrupting the arc wing span. The fuselage is under the arc wing saving a additional 10 or 15 percent of wing lift.
  3. Taken together, the theoretical saving of the arc wing over the straight wing without the fuselage interrupting may be as much as 10 to 25 percent.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Wing That Really Lifts

I've talked about the Arc Wing VTOL airplane in a number of earlier posts. Today, I want to talk mostly just about the arc wing itself. No airplane today has a wing like it, and I feel it would have many advantages even for conventional take off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, as well as vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

This photo shows just the shape of the arc wing:

And, this image shows the arc wing in combination with a dual rotating propeller and a flap at the back that would be used for VTOL operations:

What are its advantages of the arc wing? When combined with dual rotating propellers:

  1. The arc wing has inherent "winglets" and minimal tip vortices to reduce 5 to 10 percent of lift of the straight wing.
  2. There is no fuselage interrupting the arc wingspan. The fuselage is under the arc wing saving an additional 10 or 15 percent of wing lift.
  3. Taken together, the theoretical saving of the arc wing over the straight wing without the fuselage interrupting may be as much as 10 to 25 percent.
  4. The arc wing has greater lift, (L/D), for a given span than a straight wing.
  5. An airplane designed with the arc wing will have as shorter span for a given load factor.
  6. The arc wing stalls at 33 degrees angle of attack vs. the straight wing that stalls at 17 degrees, resulting in later stall and higher lift.
  7. Arc wing flaps are full span and without tip losses, inboard or outboard.
    The arc wing has positive pitch stability that removes the need for a horizontal empennage and the structural weight and drag thereof.
  8. The arc wing can assume any angle of attack and "freeze" at any angle of attack by moving the tip mounts fore and aft. We have a video that my son William D. Bertelsen narrates that shows the arc wing stability at any attack angle.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Propellers Forever!

In a May 13th story titled "Single engine turboprops prosper", Kate Sarsfield of Flight International makes the point "The single-engined turboprop sector is riding high. Continued hikes in the price of oil worldwide, coupled with their unrivalled operational flexibility, are pushing up demand for these versatile, efficient propeller-driven aircraft.". In another story on May 15th, also from Flight International, writer Mary Kirby, says in her piece called "Embraer resumes analysis of turboprops" "Developing a new commercial turboprop is under renewed analysis at Embraer, and could provide an eventual substitution for the Brazilian manufacturer’s small regional jets."

Why is it that propellers are more efficient than straight jet engines?

1. Props move a larger volume of air more slowly that jets. An illustration is that the 40 foot rotor of the helicopter can lift more with less horse power than can smaller props.

2. Turbo props have larger diameters than jets, and move more air more slowly and more efficiently.

It conveniently happens our Arc Wing VTOL airplane not only uses a large propeller, but it is a dual rotating propeller, which is even more efficient than a single propeller, by a factor of 8%. Dual rotating props have a straight slip stream, but single rotation props leave a twisting slipstream that loses force by the angle of the twist.

With aviation gasoline prices very high, and likely to remain well above past averages, more efficient airplanes will have a big advantage over less efficient ones. We've discussed before how our Arc Wing airplane has vertical take off and landing, which is the most ideal method of operation. Now we can say that with its dual rotating propeller - and we believe its arc wing as well - it is the most efficient flying machine.

Parting with Parking

Recently, I've been referring to a Russell Baker column from 1996 when I talk about the inherent deficiencies with a car based culture. Today, I'll focus again on the issue of parking and parking lots, and how the Aeroduct System that we've developed at Aeromobile Inc. handles those two issues.

In that article Mr. Baker says "I'm mad about the grocery having relocated from just around the corner to three miles away in what used to be a cornfield out in the country. And why? Because the grocer needs 15 acres of parking lot to accommodate cars that have to be driven three miles every time you want a bag of grapefruit and a gallon of milk." He says later on in his column "I'm mad about spending my life looking for a parking space in the city, mad about paying breathtaking sums of money to parking garages..."

Cars require parking spaces, and the more cars there are, the more parking spaces are needed. In some cases, where land is more available, enormous parking lots are built, consuming perhaps acres of land. In many instances, as with a church or shopping mall, the parking lot's full capacity is utilized only some of the time. The rest of the time, no use is being made of a large paved surface that now covers the former green space where trees or other plants once flourished. This flora is essential in keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from reaching undesirable levels .

Of course, there are places, like Manhattan Island in New York City, where there are not nearly enough parking for the cars that need a place to stop. Then finding parking becomes a vexing and time consuming task, and often a very expensive one as well. The mobility of the automobile matters little if the driver cannot park near his destination, and the expense of using the automobile increases as he drives around to find a spot, and perhaps pays a lot of money when he finally finds one.

So, parking must go, and that's what the Aeroduct System allows. With our system, you debark at the station nearest to your destination, and each possible destination will have a station, unlike mass transit, and your vehicle can return automatically to your house or to a nearby holding area until it is needed again. No verdant land is covered by asphalt, either for the guideways or parking lots. If you don't need your vehicle for a while, it can return home and wait for you to summon it again, or to be used by another family member. Or, if you will need it soon, vertical storage places that can store many Aeroduct craft will allow for the vehicle to remain close by.

The Aeroduct System saves enormous amounts of land that otherwise is being destroyed with pavement, and it saves all sorts of time that drivers now spend looking for the limited parking spots in town and city centers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A (Better) Streetcar Named the Aeroduct System

In my blog post of May 4th, 2008, I commented on remarks made by Russell Baker in a 1996 column he titled “Here is what mad is”. That column was a complaint against the automobile dominated transportation of the modern USA. In this and in future blog entries, I'll comment at length on specific points he made, and how the Aeroduct System of ground transportation deals with his complaints.

For today, I'll discuss his statement “I'm mad about not having a bus or streetcar system left like the one that once enabled people to travel those six miles for a little pocket change.”

Rail transportation of all kinds, including streetcars, dominated the movement of people and freight for the last part of the 1800s and the first 50 years of the 1900s. People did not have to own their own vehicles; they could make use of mass transit for their travels. The advent of the automobile and accompanying roads changed all that. Streetcars and other means of mass transit dwindled in popularity as people used their cars to travel to all sorts of places not accessible by rail transportation. Suburbs grew up around major cities, became completely car based, and the remains of mass transit serviced only the densely populated cities.

This all happened because that's what people wanted. They wanted the freedom to live somewhere instead of a crowded city, and they wanted the freedom to go exactly where they wanted when they wanted. This type of freedom allowed by cars is its major attraction and few people would want to give it up.

Of course, this comes at a price, and Mr. Baker and numerous others have pointed out the many undesirable “side effects” of an automobile culture. But, returning to streetcars and other mass transit transportation is not going to appeal to most people, not matter how bad the future reality of traveling by cars on roads becomes. Mass transit can only work at all (and not always well) where there is sufficient population density, and people who live in suburbs or exurbs are there because they don't want to be part of high density population.

Cars can only be replaced by a ground transportation system that gives people the freedom to have their own vehicle and go where they want when they want. At Aeromobile Inc. our Aeroduct System does just that. It carries vehicles of any size, privately owned for the most part, on a cushion of air and service all the places where cars are currently the only possibility. Our system allows entry and destination points anywhere along the guideway, and these points of accessibility can be at each home, store, church, hospital, business, etc. as close together or as far apart as these locations are in the cities, towns, and suburbs we have today.

So, we can give Mr. Baker and anyone else a direct ride (no stops at other stations along the way) from their home to the store or anywhere else without requiring driving on busy roads in bad weather while consuming lots of high priced fuel and creating lots of carbon emissions. Our system is far more efficient and people and environmentally friendly than that.