Evolution Solves the Chicken and Egg Problem! - A Four Point Plan

by Carl Henderson

This four point plan refers to the Blade Runner dualmode concept. See the illustrations of this concept in order to understand the components of the plan.   Also see Update and new slide show, July 2004

1) Telematics need to be developed for very low power radio communication with the roadside beacon network along with high capacity infrared technologies. The beacons being, in turn, connected with high capacity fibre optics to form the backbone of the network. The spacing of the beacons needs to be reduced and the capacity increased to provide sufficient bandwidth for all of the vehicles to communicate with each other and with their depots.

The bandwidth will be required for the passengers to be able to also use this network for their work or to listen to the radio or even watch TV. To improve the safety of the transport system, for those using it and those walking beside it, cameras need to be fitted to the front and back of all of the larger vehicles. This is analogous to fitting number plates to the earlier vehicles. These cameras can then be accessed by both the Highways and Emergency Services. For example, if your vehicle is cut off by another vehicle, the onboard sensors could trigger the logging or transmission of the images and hopefully reduce 'road rage'.

By accessing more of your vehicle's sensor information, a real time temperature map of the road network can be created. With a reliable temperature history and the rates of temperature change, a very accurate prediction of the freezing patterns across the network can be created. This information can be used to direct the gritting machines. Further examples of the potential of such a system is to be able to compose a three-dimensional image of an accident scene from the onboard cameras of a number of vehicles. Road maintenance data can also be collected by monitoring vehicle suspension movement and tyre slip.

2) Separate the vehicles by size and move the lorries and buses over into designated lanes that run down the centre of the main roads. Run these commercial vehicles at a steady speed possibly with the aid of a basic cruise control system. These initial steps should improve the visibility and safety of the smaller cars and, with vehicles divided into those of similar performance running together, the flow of the traffic generally. Gradually, active cruise control systems can be introduced which can reduce the inter-vehicle spacing and so improve the vehicle efficiency and lane capacity. With inter-vehicle communication later made mandatory, 'platooning' can be initiated for some vehicles, while the drivers of the other vehicles can just be kept informed. Small convoys can be created which, with minimal inter-vehicle spacing, would benefit from significant aerodynamic savings. These savings will help cover the additional cost of the equipment.

Mechanical coupling devices would further enhance the safety of the system and also provide a means for one vehicle to pull or push another and so add resilience to the list of system benefits.

3) Carried out within the schedule for the resurfacing of the road network, sections of rail line could be embedded into the outer lanes of major roads. These dualmode lanes could be constructed with only minimal disruption to the network and at a comparable cost to that of lifting and relaying the road surface. However, once laid the life expectancy of the new lane, with its indeterminate rail life and the now lightly loaded tarmac surface, will be extended, possibly even doubled. Adding light rail axles and the associated control features to commercial vehicles will increase the purchasing cost by about 25%. It will also add a tonne to the vehicles tare weight. Operators that can accept these costs would benefit from the substantially reduced fuel consumption offered by the very low rolling resistance.

4) Start by use new hybrid self loading car transporter /coach designs to offer an efficient transporter service along the existing main roads. Both the cost of using the service and the relative fuel consumption need to be less than driving yourself. The hybrid vehicles can also carry more small cars than large ones and the price of the journey should reflect this. A reasonable cost for the journey will be set at the outset, but as more stops are made this cost will be reduced. Your account will be duly credited when you get off. The more people that use the service, the lower the price will be.

The benefits and convenience provided will, promote walking and cycling and the use of smaller more efficient cars and vans, ideally 2.5m long or less so that more of them can be slotted in sideways across the vehicle. The large commercial vehicles will need to adapt to exploit new markets and follow the changes in transport patterns. Containers with dimensions that suit the car bays will help improve resource utilisation and also increase the flexibility and service frequency of the system.

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Last modified: February 18, 2006