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ACV research and development

Air cushions everywhere

The air cushion principle, once proven practical, was quickly adapted to apply to other vehicles and modes of transport. From the late 1960's and during the 1970's a variety of ideas were drawn up and experimental vehicles built. Most of them successful, proving we had a viable new technology.

One of these ideas formed itself into an air cushion train, often called the monorail because of its single track. A train, riding on a cushion of air, which would have almost no friction, would be considerably faster than traditional rail transport, and cheaper.

Europeans, Americans and the Japanese all drew up plans for air cushion trains, sometimes magnetically levitated - the MagLev - or by linear induction - without any moving parts - or through other means of propulsion. However produced, the key principle for a smooth and high speed ride was provided by the cushion of air.

The benefits of air cushion trains are several. Rail construction is far cheaper than with steel - simple concrete central tracks, which can then be raised on pylons, laid on roads or in tunnels. It's high speed, low noise and low ecological impact. A perfect solution one might think. Unfortunately, the best isn't always implemented.

The rail network that never happened

A whole network of these hovertrains were devised to run between major European urban centres, travelling at speeds up to 480 km per hour (300 mph). A viable and clean alternative to expensive air travel and congested roads and highways.

We can only speculate that vested interest, such as steel and existing rail construction companies, lobbyied heavily because in the almost thirty years since its conception the hovertrain network is virtually nonexistent. The French Aerotrain project being a case in point (see table).

In a capitalist world, doing the right thing often takes second place to doing that which makes a profit, or that which is in someone's special interest, and so it goes with air cushion technology, solar energy technology and other clean alternatives to existing, wasteful and expensive applications.

The future of hovertrain rail networks

But that's not to say times aren't changing. The ridiculous wealth many Western-style governments built up, often by overtaxing their citizens and companies, during the twenty five years from 1970 up to 1995 and beyond, and of which a large part was spent on construction and other existent cartels, such as energy and telecommunications monopolies, is rapidly running out in the new Millennium.

The average citizen cannot cope anymore with outrageous prices for local produce and services and is voting with the only power he/she has left - the wallet.

The corruption scandals are beginning to float to the surface of corporations overcharging for government projects and filing fraudulent accounts and government officials are finally waking up.

New projects are scrutinized more closely for feasibility and especially pricing and future economics and the hovertrain, amongst other new technologies, is poised to take its deserved place in modern, fast, reliable, eco-friendly and low cost mass transportation.

ACV technology and monorail

One area where the air cushion is being actively utilized is in monorail development. Whether in combination with MagLev technology or as a straightforward hovercraft principled vehicle, the monorail is finally coming into its own.

Several successful ACV trains are already in use on a smaller scale and more are being built at present and planned for the future in ever wider and bigger networks (see above). Sadly, most of the current systems are short-distanced, local applications, making little use of the real advantage of ACV trains - speed over distance.

But where the hovertrain will succeed the steel monsters on their tracks during the next decades, so will the hovercraft finally claim its rightful place as widely accepted personal and commercial transport.



Hovercraft and ACV research and development

The train that never happened - The Aerotrain Story - 1965-1974.

The Aerotrain I80-250 on its track at Chevilly - ACV development Links999. The Aerotrain I80 Haute Vitesse - ACV development Links999.

Monorails, existent and planned

The Monorail Society
The AVT train proposal for Los Angeles

The AVT train Los Angeles - ACV development Links999.

Milwaukee Monorail - ????
The Colorado Monorail - 200?

The planned Colorado monorail system - ACV development Links999.

Chong Qing (CN) Monorail - 200?
Montreal Monorail - 200?
Las Vegas Monorail - 2004
Chiba Urban Monorail - 2003
Monorail Malaysia - 2002

The Monorail Malaysia system - ACV at Links999.

Tokyo Monorail - 2001

The Tokyo monorail system - ACV development Links999.

Airtrain Newark - 1998

The Newark Airport airtrain - ACV's at Links999.

DisneyWorld Monorail - 1990
Sydney Metro Monorail - 1988
The Seattle Monorail - 1962

The Seattle monorail, one of the world's first - ACV development Links999.


A plethora of ACV technology

Hovertrains aren't the only application of air cushion technology. Besides our favourite, the hovercraft, there are hovertrucks, hoverbarges, hoverpallets, hoverbeds and even hoverpads for personal transportation on crowded city streets.

The idea - and established principle - that a layer of air can provide not only a much smoother ride, but also reduce friction dramatically and thereby improving speed has caught on in a big way.

The new airtrain projects being developed in several locations around the world will prove that the future of high speed ground travel lies on a cushion of air, not a twin set of steel tracks.

Heavy load ACV's

One of the main applications for ACV technology has been the transport of heavy loads across areas without roads or access by water.

Development of hoverbarges by several hovercraft manufacturers has made it possible to transport heavy loads into these otherwise inaccessible areas. With payloads up to several hundred tons these powerful hovercraft earn their keep. (See also Military Hovercraft.)

For passenger services, anywhere from 5 to 500 people can be transported or ferried regularly with a range of new hovercraft and ACV vehicles made by various hovercraft companies around the world, proving once again that ACV vehicles are on the move towards general acceptance and use. ( See also Hovercraft in Use.)

Personal ACV and hovercraft development

On a more personal transport level you can now get a hoverpad of your own. The Airboard is the first stand-up hoverpad designed for personal use and it certainly looks like a great ride!

For the elderly - or lazy - among us, we'd like to see a version with a seat and a shopping basket?


Existing air cushion vehicle developments

Hoverdril's 250-ton payload Hoverbarge takes on heavy loads in Abu Dhabi

Hoverdril SeaPearl in Abu Dhabi - ACV development Links999.

Hoverwork Canada's hoverfreighter at work in Canada's remote regions.

Hoverwork freighter at work in remote region - ACV development Links999.

Australian Hovercraft has developed a range of open ocean hovercraft for passenger, transport, scientific and military use.

Australian Hovercraft new range of hovercraft ACV - ACV development Links999.

International Robotics has produced the Alura Airboard, a personal hovercraft.

Alura Airboard personal hovercraft - ACV development Links999.

The future of air cushion technology

Clearly there is no shortage of ACV development in the future. As the technology is taking off in various forms, for example, combined with MagLev technology for high speed mass transit networks, the air cushion is well on its way to clear the path for future vehicle transport.

Consider that if the hovercraft does so well on difficult earth terrain, such as swamps, deserts, mud flats as well as rivers and even open ocean, what it would do for exploration of the planets in our solar system with a variety of hostile atmospheres and surfaces.

Although new hovercraft and ACV vehicles are low in noise, a problem that plagued earlier developments most engines used are still gasoline-based.

It seems only a matter time before the first hoverbikes and hovercars will appear on our streets. Hoverbus anyone?

What we need to tackle now is the power source of our current vehicles. Gasoline-based motors need to be a thing of the past quickly if we are to have any clean air in our cities. Electric motors and the newly developed fuel cells are the way forward, forget about the outdated combustion engine!

Future ACV concepts and developments

Hovercraft and robotics
Autonomous Mobile Robotics
Magnetically Propelled WIG transport - A combination of MagLev and ACV technology proposal for future high speed mass transportation.

Magnetically propelled WIG-craft concept - ACV development Links999.

Tohoku University, Sendai (JP) designed this high speed MagLev-ACV combined train. Article by Ric Getter.

The Flying Train, a MagLev ACV high speed concept - ACV Development Links999.

Hovercraft Books and Information on construction, design and other issues


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