MagneMotion Receives US Department of Transportation Award For Urban Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) Transit Technology

Acton, Massachusetts (June 28, 2001)

MagneMotion Inc., a provider of transportation and automation solutions based on linear motor technology, today announced that it has received a competitive award from the Federal Transit Administration under the Urban Magnetic Levitation Transit Technology Development Program. Under this award, MagneMotion will lead the development of a key Maglev technology for future implementation in transportation systems serving traffic-congested urban areas. Team members participating in this phase include J. Muller International of San Diego in the area of guideway design and Professor Scott Phelan of Texas Tech University in the area of civil engineering.

"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the FTA in pursuing our vision of a workable Maglev transit solution," said MagneMotion’s President, Dr. Richard Thornton. "We have unique expertise in the Maglev, linear motor propulsion and position sensing technologies that are key to the success of this project." Thornton was a pioneer in the development of Maglev technology in the 1960s and holds some of the earliest patents. He is actively engaged in the development of critical enabling technologies and is considered an expert in the field of Maglev system design.

A principal element of the MagneMotion Urban Maglev system is the use of bus-size vehicles that can operate with short headway under automatic control. By using the company’s long-stator Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM) technology each vehicle can be propelled with accelerating and decelerating forces up to 0.25 g and can achieve top speeds in excess of 45 m/s (100+ mph). The combination of high acceleration, high speed and short headway is not possible with legacy transit systems that depend on wheels for traction. Although Maglev systems are capable of much higher speeds over long distances, this program focuses on a lower speed implementation in an urban setting. A Maglev system offering 100 mph service represents a marked improvement over commuter rail systems that might approach 50 mph and also offers additional benefits in areas such as reduced noise and air pollution and reduced maintenance.

In a Maglev system, the vehicles are supported and propelled by magnetic forces. During operation the vehicles are essentially "flying" a short distance above an energized track. Electrical current in the levitation coils is varied to provide the correct amount of force to support or "float" the vehicle. A feedback control loop with gap sensing is used to stabilize the suspension. Under this contract MagneMotion will construct a scale (reduced length) prototype system that will verify many of the critical suspension design parameters. The system will feature full-scale magnetics but a guideway and vehicle of reduced width and length.

Founded in 1996, with roots at the MIT Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, MagneMotion is a developer of products based on electromagnetic technology. The company is applying its systems and technologies to fields such as material handling, manufacturing automation, robotics and people transportation. MagneMotion is a privately held company.

Contact: Peter Mattila, Director of Business Development

MagneMotion Inc., (978) 461-5090 x-223

Email:   Web:


Last modified: September 26, 2001