The American Maglev Technology Team

A consortium of high-profile partners with well-established track records of success are committed to making American Maglev a reality.

This information is about 10 years old. Click here for their present website (July, 2010)

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Virginia Power: A division of Dominion Resources, Inc., with more than $4 billion in 1996 kilo-watt-hour sales, $12 billion in assets, and more than 9,300 employees serving almost 2 million customers in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In the forefront of promoting, supporting, and implementing fleets of electric vehicles nationwide. American Maglev is the next logical step in electric transportation.

Lockheed Martin:  The world's biggest defense contractor, with nearly $27 billion in 1996 sales, $30 billion in assets, and 185,000 employees. Now applying its expertise in defense and aerospace (including the Space Shuttle) to information services, wireless communications, and electronic support systems for transportation. Lockheed Martin believes that American Maglev has the potential to be at least a $200 billion industry.

Old Dominion University:  A State-supported metropolitan, regional university with enrollment of nearly 19,000 students, located in eastern Virginia. The University offers 150 graduate and undergraduate degree programs through its’six colleges / Arts & Letters, Business & Public Administration, Darden College of Education, Engineering & Technology, and Health Sciences & Sciences. Research grants and contracts are valued at $50 million annually.

American Maglev Technology of Florida, Inc.: An entrepreneurial partnerships of specialists in Maglev Technology with extensive experience researching, designing, and deploying cutting-edge technologies. As the first and only American team to construct and test a full scale prototype maglev system, AMT is acknowledged as the only promoter of a commercially viable maglev technology.

Maglev Technology

Maglev - magnetic levitation and propulsion – is not new technology. Almost a century ago, Americans Robert Goddard and Emile Bachelet conceived of frictionless trains that are levitated and propelled by the force of magnetic fields. The technology remained dormant until the concept was demonstrated in the 1930s, by Hermann Kemper in Germany. A generation later, in the 1960s, several American scientists developed maglev patents including the development of the linear electric motor concept that underlies all maglev designs developed to date. But federal funding for the work dried up in 1975. A brief revival for U.S. maglev R&D occurred in 1991 with the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 which funded concept studies. Unfortunately, further development of the concepts was eliminated in the federal budget impasse of 1994.

Both Germany and Japan have maglev demonstration projects in their country. Their governments have spent more than $1.0 billion each over the last 20 years to develop and demonstrate their systems.

The German Transrapid maglev design has been extensively tested with full-scale prototypes. It employs an electromagnetic suspension system in which conventional iron-core magnets underneath the vehicle are attracted upward to steele rails in the guideway. The close clearance (1 cm) between vehicle and guideway translates to tight tolerances that contribute to high construction costs for the guideway. Financing and planning are proceeding on a 180- mile maglev line between Berlin and Hamburg.

The Japanese maglev program is an electrodynamic system based on the repulsion-mode concept first proposed by Americans James Powell and Gordon Danby in the 1960s. The system features superconducting magnets on board the vehicle that induce currents in stator coils contained in the guideway sidewalls. Once magnetic liftoff is achieved – at about 62 mph – the vehicle is levitated about 15cm; at lower speeds it rolls on rubber tires. In the next year, the Central Japan Railway Company may decide to extend their 27-mile demonstration line into a commercial maglev line between Tokyo and Osaka, a distance of 340 miles.

Although the German and Japanese maglev technologies perform well, their inherit designs make them expensive ($50 million + per mile) to build. In the US market where the transportation system is the best in the world and gasoline is inexpensive, these systems will have difficulty competing against the automobile and air travel.

Active Maglev Demonstration Sites in the World

German TR07 - 21 mile maglev demonstration system near Hamburg      

Japanese (JR) System–27 mile maglev demonstration system south of Tokyo

How is American Maglev Technology different?

Maglev is a safe, quiet, convenient, efficient alternative to highway, conventional rail, and air travel. Maglev systems have been under development for nearly 20 years in Germany and Japan. Maglev development in the US has had a number of false starts.

Floating on an electromagnetic cushion, capable of speeds up to 300 miles per hour, Maglev Technology was highlighted in a 1990 congressional report as the technology most likely to leapfrog foreign high-speed rail. A 1992 study supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Transportation verified its technical and economic feasibility. But due to an excellent US transportation system and the expense of existing European and Japanese maglev designs, it hasn't been pursued. Until now. Recent advances in American Maglev Technology solve the cost and reliability concerns inherent in foreign designs. The concept is simple. American Maglev Technology delivers:

  • A lower cost guideway structure - expensive, heavyweight construction is unnecessary, since the vehile weighs two-thirds less than other designs and since the physical forces generated by the vehicle's motion are widely distributed
  • .Minimal land acquitision costs - lightweight vehicles mean the elevated guideway's support columns are only 7-8 feet across and can be deployed along the existing rights-of-way of highways and railways. This not only saves money, it also reduces environmentally unfriendly sprawl.
  • Uncomplicated, lower-cost Smart Technology - the system is affordable because it uses well-understood American technologies. It's ready to go full-scale tests on a prototype section of track have already verified its real-world feasibility. In addition, electronic controls are on the vehicles, not the guideway, reducing overall system costs.

Further savings result from the elegant simplicity of its design - brushes on the vehicle pass over aluminum coils embedded in the guideway, passively producing the necessary forces for the propulsion, lift, stability, and guidance. This design is inherently safe and stable, avoiding the expense of costly fail-safe systems.

American Maglev is estimated to cost $15-20 million/mile. No other approach to maglev can make the same claims for the same price. Competing technologies from Europe and Japan cost 2-3 times more. The same is true for local commuter systems such as the Washington, D.C. area's Metrorail, which cost as much as $60 million/mile

The AMT Test Facility at Edgewater

While the German and Japanese maglev technologies seem to work well in demonstration, these governments have not yet made the financial commitments to expand these systems and place them into commercial use. Cost estimates exceed 50 million dollars per mile. In the US market with cheap gasoline and many excellent transportation alternatives, a maglev system at this cost will have great difficulty competing.

American Maglev Technology (AMT) reviewed maglev technology in the early 1990’s to eliminate and reduce system costs. Until 1994, many of these ideas were concepts and unproven theories. With investment by Volusia County, the state of Florida, and a Federal grant, a test track and a full-scale prototype undercarriage or bogie were built and tested near Edgewater, Florida. Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Research confirmed test results. This important first step silenced many of the early critics on AMT’s method of passive levitation and stability. While proving the technical aspects of the technology was important, the next step – building a full scale, elevated track and vehicle - is equally important. Investors and politicians need to see and experience the technology and be convinced that the AMT estimated cost of 15-20 million dollars per mile is accurate. Consequently the AMT team is in serious discussion with several interested locations for the world’s first commercially deployed maglev system. [A demonstration site at Old Dominion University was selected and announced on December 10, 1999]

Lockheed Martin Study of AMT Technology

In October 1997, Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles entered into a contractual agreement with Virginia Power and American Maglev Technology (AMT) to "…undertake and perform a review effort to evaluate all of the vehicle design, engineering and simulation work performed to date." The study was finalized in June 1998. The summarized study results follow.


A major emphasis by Lockheed Martin E & M was analysis of  the vehicle / guiderails interactions. These analyses were performed to answer criticisms from AD Little Co.’s evaluation of an AMT maglev proposal submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation in October 1995. The AD Little Co. was complimentary of all aspects of the proposal except the vehicle, guiderails, and their interactions. The report also looked at a pricing model of American Maglev Technology’s concept. Based on this analysis, AMT’s approach can be deployed for less than $20 million / mile that makes this transportation system economically viable for wide spread national deployment.

The major findings during the course of these analyses are as follows:

No fundamental technical concerns were identified.

Findings regarding AMT’s approach:

While advanced, is practical, viable, and can be built using existing technology components – no "new inventions" are required.

Is ready to demonstrate now and should proceed to a full-scale, high-speed, passenger carrying demonstration project.

Can be deployed nationally at a price tag below the $20 million/ mile figure, which the FRA has concluded is the threshold for self-sustaining economic viability.

Design modifications recommended and implemented into the baseline during the course of study:

Increase lateral force > 4X.

Increase lateral air gap to at least inch.

Increase chassis / bogie suspension roll stiffness 2X.

Add lateral restraint to guideway span bearings.

Add damping to azimuth bearings.

Active secondary suspension is required at higher speeds.

Permanent magnet configurations can be optimized to significantly increase their lift / weight.

While there are still some technical choices, evaluations and decisions remaining, all are lower order matters and none significantly affect the fundamental promise of AMT’s approach.


AMT’s approach to magnetically levitated vehicles is technically viable. There is a high probability of success in the demonstration project and a high probability that actual commercial sale and deployment will be practical immediately following a 30-month demonstration program. When successfully proven, the potential market for this technology, based on FRA and independent calculations, is extremely large, and could provide very significant revenue over the next 5 – 25 years. It is recommended that Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles should fully support and participate with American Maglev Technology in a full-scale demonstration of their technology.

Last modified: July 12, 2010