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Transportation is the toughest and most urgent problem and it needs this solution now. At one time The U.S.A. felt that going to the moon was the most necessary agenda around. Those very brilliant space-traveling engineers are now sitting on their hands waiting for the next challenge. The Moki Passage idea presented below is loaded with very significant opportunities to solve engineering problems. Right now there is a clean slate. Here is a chance to incorporate beauty and style into the solutions rather than a fix it later mentality.
All of the technology needed to implement this concept into a real working system is available now.
Here also is an opportunity to inject money into a faltering economy.
An opportunity for people with faith, courage and vision to really make a difference.
The automobile has had its day. It was ten times better than a bicycle and a hundred better than a carriage and a thousand times better than walking. But now there are too many of them. They have become too necessary and they extract too great of a cost in every department.
The computer that makes decisions for the auto (that's you, the driver) was designed for too wide ranges of purpose too have the decision making speed and focus necessary for safety and efficiency.
There is a better idea. The concept is old but with new innovations, computers, and materials its time has come.
The heart of the concept is the channel. Think of an upside-down U with the legs turned inward.
Think of wheels running on that inward part.
Think of a coach suspended from those wheels thru the open part of the U.
The U shape will give this channel strength. It will also keep snow, rain, and ice from the surface on which the wheels run.
The concept that will allow this idea to work is to Keep it light
Light; think lightweight. Think long, graceful, soaring, airy, length and strength. If your vision is concrete and communist clunky push the reset button and start over.
Most important would be a computer network system. Thru this network each conveyance would communicate with the other, telling its direction, speed, and intentions.
If there were conflicts in the use of space, for instance at an intersection, each vehicle could control each other's speed so that each stream of traffic could interlace its self thru the other without stopping or contact.
There are many advantages to The Moki Passage.
Only where the supporting pillars touch the earth does the earth need to be disturbed.
Each family would need to own only one vehicle.
When one member had finished their use the coach could be sent home on its own without a driver for some one else to use.
You can be somewhere else while the Moki Passage does the work.
Since this system is totally automated true remote warehousing and remote shopping is possible. The Moki Passage could run errands, do shopping, make deliveries, and haul away waste, all without a driver or any one on board .
Children can be sent to soccer practice without a chauffeur.
Water bottles could be sent to be filled by themselves while you stayed at home.
The Moki Passage could be built very quickly and would cost much less than a highway system.
This channel would be suspended above the ground by arching pillars and posts that had a small footprint on the earth. They would be high enough so that the suspended coach could not hit any thing beneath. In cities the channels could be attached to buildings many floors above the street. Because the coach would be so precisely steered by the channel an underground tube would be small and cheap to build.
The channel is made of pressed steel like an auto body, or even graphite or composite. Inside that channel, also protected from the elements. You would find an electrical power source.
You would find in the channel a means of telling location on the system accurate to millimeters. I would suggest a bar code system read by lasers.
It could be built in a factory and assembled on the route. I believe that this channel should be engineered so that every day people can participate in some of the assembly. They ought to be able to buy this pre built channel at someplace like Home Depot and assemble their driveway component of the system.
The motive assembly would be electric motors built of the lightest most efficient permanent magnets. Later on this system would be an ideal place to try some sort of magnetic levitation or linear motors Wheels are the best first choice.
Breaking would be dynamic and put power back into the electrical power system.
I would suggest that changing direction, or steering: that is diverting to a different channel would be directed by the computer that decided the route. The use of left turns should be minimized because they complicate the design of the traffic flow.
I believe that a constant flow of 35 mph in a city would easy to deal with. I believe that 130 mph would work for cross-country.
For the coach itself, again Lightweight is the watchword.
Some variation of aluminum tubing and fabric covering comes to mind. About six feet wide, ten feet long and six feet tall with a groove for the channel taking up the center portion. I believe that a total weight including passengers can be no more than 800 lbs.
In the passenger version the most important appointment should be a restroom, shower and the like. Only a few gallons of water should be carried and replenished by passing thru automated stations. Similarly wastewater would be dumped when passing over other stations.
The precision steering of the channel would allow the coach to glide millimeters away from a building door. The doors would open together as in an elevator.
This conveyance is going to be mechanically much simpler than an automobile and it would be simple to put sensors monitoring wear and calibration everywhere.
Individuals would own these coaches in the same way that automobiles are owned.
If one lived in a private home I believe that as the Moki Passage is first built the device might sit in what used to be the driveway. It might sit only a few inches above the earth. The channel would slope and the coach would move to that position very slowly. There would be sensors on the bottom to assure that there would be nothing trapped underneath.
Later on as building adapted it would be best if the Moki Passage would slide next to the wall of the house. And one leaving or arriving from a trip would never have to be exposed to the weather.
If one lived in an apartment this conveyance could leave a person at the most convenient spot and then travel on it's own to a parking area.
This area could be some distance away.
The parking should be three-dimensional. And because of the lightness it would be very cheap and quick to build.
To travel from your site you would call the coach from it's parking by a phone. You would punch in your numeric location. The computer on the coach would calculate the time that it would arrive at the spot where you could step aboard. You could then punch in the location of where you wanted to go.
You could choose a scenic route or a fast route. The scenic routes would be slower and there would be considerable separation from the other coaches on that route so that the views from the windows, especially the front would be unobstructed. The view downward and forward would no longer be one of an expanse of asphalt, but of the earth used for a better purpose.
The view form scenic overlooks could be right up to the edge with natural screens separating one overlook from another.
There would little need to make deep cuts in the hills or fills in the valleys for a roadway. The length of the supporting pillars could be adjusted to make up those differences.
I personally would like to see the route chosen and my progress along it displayed.
The fast routes would be another story.
The front coach would extend a shield backward to cover the nose of the car behind. This would provide a nearly wind resistance free path to the cars behind. On the fast routes there would be speed and efficiency but not much of a view. There would be a temptation to put many of these fast routes underground. It would be efficient to allow the vehicle to evacuate these underground tubes to reduce airflow resistance. In that case living air-breathing things in the coaches would not fare very well.
The greatest resistance to the movement of this wheel assembly thru the channel would be air passing from the front to the back. An air dam could be placed in the front of that assembly which pretty much filled the channel. One-way flapper valves would allow the air out of the channel. Rubber lips could seal the bottom covering the coach suspension leaves. A vacuum would be created that would allow the next coach thru the channel easier passage.
Coaches need not all be the same size, but the size mentioned above should be the maximum.
The Moki Passage will be used for deliveries of single smaller items without a human driver. It would be inefficient to take up space with a people sizes vehicle. These smaller delivery vehicles of the same size should travel together on the fast routes. The computer would know about and consider construction, detours, or congestion.
When one reached his destination there could be several choices of how the conveyance is parked. One choice for a shorter term could be to place the vehicles in an oval holding pattern. Another choice could be to have a pull thru parking or the vehicle could be sent to a more distant parking area or simply sent home for others to use.
Lightweight and efficiency are the watchwords.
In cities residential intersections could be on the same level with traffic interlacing itself thru the intersection with no stopping. In busier intersections it would be a very minor problem to put the crossing in two layers. It is very easy to think inside the paradigm of automobile traffic flow. However with the Moki Passage channel system there need not be intersections with two-way traffic.
One of the effects of building the Moki Passage would be that national and local airlines would be redundant. A coach on this system could make it from Los Angeles to New York in 24 hours and it would provide true door-to-door travel with no navigation or parking problems. One could sleep, be entertained, educated, communicate or play with the computer on board. I believe that a system could be developed where meals could be delivered to the coach without stopping.
The environmental effect would be truly minimal.
Another effect might be that that the apartment business might decline. People could, and would live aboard these coaches. The simplicity of these conveyances would imply a cost for each of about 1/10 the cost of an auto. The concept of travel and living would become more blended.
It would be affordable for society to ensconce the homeless aboard this system.
This could also work as a jail system: fix it so that the doors only open from an external command. The inmates could be moved about at the whim of the person in control.
Apartment living might decline but sprawl might be worsened because a long commute to a remote home would be very easy. Remote living at a location that never had a surface road would be no problem.
The biggest problem that I can see to this system would be clutter in the view up ward from the perspective of the ground. The view while one was aboard would from on high and very good. The routes would have to be carefully placed to avoid visual clutter. The system would be very quiet and no lighting need be associated with it in any way. In cities the routes could run along property lines, thru alleyways, along easements. In other words the system could be behind you and out of your field of view to the front.
Air quality would certainly improve. Inefficient internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels could disappear.
The trucking industry would be profoundly changed. Big heavy trucks with expensive drivers would only be necessary rarely and then still run on the existing highway system.
The problem with recycling now is that it is too expensive in terms of diesel fuel, driver pay, and the cost of bigger trucks that minimize the need for expensive drivers. Bigger trucks need more sturdy and expensive roadbeds, bridges and exchanges.
With the Moki passage channel system household size loads could be taken cheaply and automatically, with no human to accompany the load, to a concentrating area.
Since this system is totally automated true remote warehousing and shopping would be possible. One item at a time would be sent to the consumer. The effect on the system would be much lighter loads but many more vehicles. When traffic increased channels could be bunched together.
I believe that this project needs a demonstration that would prove to the world that the Moki Passage concept would work and have the benefits that this paper said it would.
If I were choosing that project I think that a run from Tucson, Arizona to Phoenix to The Grand Canyon and then perhaps to Las Vegas would be best. This route would provide the appropriate engineering challenges and would showcase the Moki Passage to the world in nature's most spectacular extremes. This route might also be fun and frivolous and by being so riders might tolerate bugs in design with less urgency. It would also run through Tusayan, the country of the Moki people. These people survived in the wild, free, empty, sun-nurtured part of Arizona and are this system's namesake. I do not believe that the demonstration should be designed to solve specific problems such as getting from a city center to the airport. The demonstration should be designed to capture and hold the imagination of its riders so that they might participate in the application of the Moki Passage to their needs.
If you might think that this is too large a demonstration you might be thinking in the box of earth changing highways and heavy automobiles.
James A. Homoki
© 2002, James A. Homoki
This page was created by Sergey Zaytsev, who is a long-time supporter of individual automated transportation.
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