Amazing transportation inventions


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Amazing transportation inventions

  1. 1. Meet the American Turtle: the first combat submarine, designed in 1775 by a Yale College student in his 30s named David Bushnell. The oak and iron vessel measured 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) tall and 6 feet (1.8 meters) wide across its midsection. A solo pilot would crank two propellers and maneuver a rudder by hand. To attack, the operator was meant to drill a screw into a ship's hull and light a time fuse, which would be attached to a charge of gunpowder. Then he would crank like mad to get the heck out of Dodge. Roadways today are peppered with technology and designs initially developed for military applications. Chris Gerdes, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, pointed to the Jeep as the most prominent example of military vehicles influencing civilian mobility. "This really went from iconic military transport to iconic expression of freedom and mobility," he wrote in an email. HAND-POWERED SUBMARINE
  2. 2. A house, a map, a bathroom, and a car: Those are the widely varied applications that inventor Buckminster Fuller found for his Dymaxion (dynamic maximum tension) concept. Shown here is Fuller's first Dymaxion Car, which could carry up to 11 passengers, travel up to 120 miles per hour (about 145 kilometers per hour), and average 28 miles per gallon of gasoline (a little less than 12 kilometers per liter). For comparison, the most efficient minivans in the 2012 model year are rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at only 24 miles per gallon (just over 10 kilometers per liter). LIGHTWEIGHT "DYMAXION" CAR
  3. 3. Pictured here is the Gossamer Albatross, which in 1979 became the first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel. Sponsored by DuPont, inventor Paul MacCready built the lightweight craft from carbon fiber tubing, balsa wood, clear Mylar, and Kevlar, with the addition of some wire and foam. He engineered a series of human- and solar-powered aircraft between 1959 and 1980, and in 1971 he founded AeroVironment – a company today known for its unmanned aircraft systems and charging equipment for electric cars. The 22.5-mile (36.2 kilometer) Albatross flight lasted just under three hours--about an hour longer than anticipated. And Bryan Allen, the long-distance cyclist who powered the 70-pound Albatross through that grueling journey over water despite leg cramps and dehydration, later told AeroVironment, "There were so many unknowns on that flight that I could not be certain we'd make it, but I was certain I'd use every resource in trying." GOSSAMER ALBATROSS
  4. 4. A scale model of Leonardo da Vinci's aerial screw, pictured here in an exhibit at the Sofia City Art Gallery in Bulgaria, gives visitors a glimpse of one of the inventors' most famous schemes for a flying machine. Sketched in 1493, the design called for a spiral-shaped, rotating surface made from iron wire and linen made "airtight with starch," and powered by a human passenger. The screw, also known a the "air gyroscope," is credited as the first rotary-wing aircraft concept, but Leonardo's design would have been a flightless bird LEONARDO DA VINCI’S HELICOPTER
  5. 5. This photo shows a flier strapped into a jet pack from Jetpack International over Denver, Colorado. The company makes three jet pack models, each weighing 180 pounds. One model, sold only to specially trained pilots, can fly for an estimated nine minutes or 11 miles (18 kilometers), up to 250 feet (76 meters) in the air. PERSONAL JET PACK
  6. 6. For SkySails, a company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, high-flying, huge kites are the basis of a business aiming to transform the shipping industry. Already, SkySails has attracted about 50 million euros ($67.6 million) in investment for its automated towing kite systems, which include onboard launch, recovery, and steering systems, plus a rope, control pod, and towing kite that swoops in figure-eights hundreds of meters in the air in front of the ship to generate propulsion power. SKYSAILS TOWING KITE
  7. 7. The Knight Bus is a triple-decker that offers a topsy-turvy brand of public transportation on demand. Forget taxis. This machine can shrink to squeeze through tight spots, and passengers can buy hot chocolate or a toothbrush on board. Wands sadly remain the stuff of fiction, but the Knight Bus illustrates concepts at work in real-world transportation systems. Telematics, for example, have helped advance "demand responsive" and community-based flexible transport services to help fill the gap between buses and taxis, especially in rural areas. Routes can be optimized based on real-time demand and passengers can be assigned dynamically based on the location and status of vehicles in the fleet. HARRY POTTER "KNIGHT BUS"
  8. 8. The technology has seen real-world operation, notably in German and Japanese demonstration projects, and in 2004 Shanghai launched the first commercial maglev line after two years of trials. Connecting the Shanghai airport to downtown, the Shanghai Maglev Train (pictured here) travels up to a blazing-fast 431 kilometers per hour, or about 268 miles per hour. But the up-front costs are steep. In 2008, Germany ditched plans for a 40-kilometer (24.9 mile) maglev project in Munich after cost estimates ballooned to more than 3 billion euros, from a previous estimate of 1.85 billion euros. But maglev isn't over and out yet. This spring, Japanese officials gave the go-ahead for construction of a 9-trillionyen ($111.4 billion), 320-mile (515-kilometer) maglev line between Tokyo and Osaka, much of it underground. If all goes according to plan-and maglev projects rarely do-the two cities will be connected by a 40-minute train ride by 2045. MAGLEV TRAIN
  9. 9. Demonstration models that Google, BMW, Volvo, General Motors, Stanford University, and others have built for testing look like modified regular cars (which they usually are -- computing gear can fit in the trunk). But designers have come up with more futuristic concepts, like the one pictured here from San Francisco industrial design shop Mike & Maaike. Dubbed Atnmbl ("autonomobile," derived from autonomy and automobile), the seven-seat design does away with the steering wheel, brake pedal, and driver's seat. It's envisioned as an electric- and solar-powered model for the year 2040. SELF-DRIVING CAR
  10. 10. In the late 1800s, a short-lived experimental transportation system in southern New Jersey took contraptions that looked like upside-down bicycles and mounted them on 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) of rail for a smoother, faster ride than one could expect on bicycles of the day. More recently, the idea of a pedal-powered monorail has been revived and updated at a Rotorua, New Zealand, amusement park by a company named Shweeb. Similar to the bicycle railways of centuries past, the Shweeb system is meant to reduce rolling resistance, "by running hard wheels on hard rail," according to the Shweeb website. The design also seeks to cut wind resistance by positioning pedaling passengers in bullet-shaped hanging "pods" with their feet forward, as on a recumbent bicycle. The pods hang from 8-inch-wide (20-centimeter-wide) rails constructed 19 feet (5.8 meters) above street-level pedestrians and traffic. SHWEEB MONORAIL