An inventor in Russia has put forward a way of allowing trains and cars to share the same road space by installing a narrow track between roads with two or more lanes.
The trains, which would be circular rather than rectangular, would run above the cars, supported on a wheeled frame. The circular shape would be necessary because each train would contain a large flywheel that would keep it stable using the gyroscope effect.
A video of the concept it action can be seen here.
The proposal has been put forward by Dahir Semyonov, a construction entrepreneur who is best known for beginning the Turkish company Dahir Insaat, which makes a prefabricated building system that can create a two-storey house in a few minutes (a video of that process can be seen here).
Semyonov told Russian news agency RIA Novosti: "There’s not a single technical issue for which an engineering solution cannot be found. Following a 15-20 minute spin-up of the flywheel using diesel generators in the mornings, its gyroscope can be powered in part by the energy of roof-mounted solar panels. Traveling on such transport will be just as safe as on any ordinary bus."
Gyrotrains queuing at an intersection (Dahir Insaat)
At present, the gyrotrain concept exists only in the form of a digital prototype in AutoCAD. According to the Sputnik agency, Dahir Insaat is in discussion with Qatar about installing 20 gyrotrains in time for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The company is also hoping to persuade the Moscow authorities to consider installing an experimental gyrotrain line on a few routes, such as between the Dynamo Metro station and Sheremetyevo Airport.
The idea has some resemblance to a Chinese proposal to install catamaran-style tram-bus that would also run above cars. This idea was tested in the city of Qinhuangdao and found to be impractical owing in part to difficulties in interacting with other vehicles.
Semyonov said his proposal would be able to deal with the urban environment. He said: "It is absolutely safe, both ecologically and physically. A gyrotrain cannot cause a person serious injury, even if it collides with them, except by pushing them out of their way if they are standing on its lone rail. If it lost power, a gyrotrain would calmly drive on to the next stop, where it will be able to drop off its passengers."
Top image: Artist’s impression of the gyroscope trains in action (Dahir Insaat)