In heavy traffic, autonomous bus simply takes to the sky
RWTH Aachen University has presented an unusual concept for urban traffic: an autonomous bus that transforms into a cable car in heavy traffic and travels over the lines of vehicles.19 Nov 2019 Roland Freist
With their development, Professor Kai-Uwe Schröder and his research assistant Tobias Meinert from the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design (SLA) at RWTH Aachen University are primarily aiming to make local public transport faster and more reliable. The UpBUS is a passenger cabin for about 35 passengers, which is transported on the road by an autonomous electric-powered ground module. When the UpBUS approaches a traffic hub or traffic jam, the ground module + passenger cabin steers off into a coupling point. Here, a coupling integrated in the roof extends out and connects to a counterpart on the suspension of an aerial ropeway. The cabin is then pulled upward and travels over the traffic jam like a cable car. The coupling technology already exists – it was developed by RWTH under the name iBOSS for the construction of modular satellites. The entire process takes no longer than ten seconds. Once the passenger cabin has been transferred to the aerial ropeway, and thereby transformed into a cable car, the ground module remains in the coupling point, where it recharges its batteries.
Aerial ropeways can be erected quickly and cost considerably less than trams or underground trains. In addition, the UpBUS concept does not require a large, rather complex system, rather small coupling stations in which the cable cars are connected to the electric modules and then transformed back into a bus. A simple UpBUS system is scheduled to be developed for demo purposes by November 2020, with plans in place to construct a test route by 2023; the relevant location has not yet been determined.
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