The Solution

  • Using less Energy
    There are two easy ways to use less energy in a commuter vehicle: Make it electrically driven, and make it lightweight. Such a vehicle would use as little as 30% of the total life cycle energy of today's average car.

  • Creating less pollution
    Many of the lighter materials which would be used in such a vehicle are easily recycled at the end of the vehicle's life.

Local air quality will be substantially better when electric motors replace traditional internal combustion engines in vehicles. How much better, depends on where, and how, the electricity is generated.

Hydrocarbon pollution in storm-water runoff will be greatly reduced. Electric vehicles are quiet, so there will be less noise pollution, too.

Electric vehicles don't need to look like a cross between a golf cart
and a moon buggy, nor do they need goggles and scarf to operate.

Filling up the Roads
A single lane can safely handle 1700 vehicles per hour, using a 2 second following distance. On some city freeways single lanes carry up to 2700 vehicles per hour, due to traffic constantly blending into the mainstream. Following distances are drastically reduced, and multiple car pileups are a feature of this style of driving.

The minimum following distance between vehicles is necessary to allow the driver time to assimilate, react, and act, in time to avoid an accident. This is true of any vehicle unit. Because of this spacing, trains can move more people than buses which can move more people than cars in any given period of time.

If one were to group several cars together and control them as a unit, a dramatic improvement could be made in road capacity. For example, if 20 small cars were coupled together, and groups were separated with a 2 second gap, a single lane could carry
12000 vehicles per hour. This is the equivalent of building 5 to 6 additional highway lanes, going in the same direction. Follow the link to a simple animation of a highway traffic scenario comparing FlexiTrain with normal traffic flow.

If one of the vehicles in the group were to supply most of the energy for the trip, the biggest failing of current electric vehicles would be overcome: that of limited
range.

This is the essence of the FlexiTrain  system,
which may be tailored to suit the requirements of each location:

  • Small individual electrically-powered vehicles for short trips, which can be
  • connected together by means of intelligent mechanical couplings into larger hybrid-power units for longer journeys, using existing roads

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