First presented as the ‘3D Express Coach’ concept by Chinese company Shenzen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co, the latest iteration - the Land Airbus - has now been shown as a scale model and an animated concept by another Chinese company, Transit Explore Bus, at this year’s High-tech Expo in Beijing.
The model version of the futuristic train-like ‘bus’ sits above two lanes of traffic, allowing other vehicles on the road to pass underneath it. In addition to the scale model, the company is preparing a full-size version for a trial on Chinese roads around August this year.
Riding on rails that sit on each side of the road, the Transit Explore Bus’ concept can carry around 1400 people - around the same as 40 conventional buses - and can travel at speeds of around 37 miles per hour (60km/h).
Boasting such a large capacity is hoped to encourage more people to take public transport, reducing congestion and vehicle emissions - a growing problem in China.
According to the concept’s chief engineer, Song Youzhou, several advantages favour the Land Airbus over more conventional options like trains. He says the high-riding Airbus will save road space, cost around 15 per cent less than a rail subway, and can be built quicker.
The roadside-mounted rails for the huge Airbus also allow it to travel along existing infrastructure, saving on development costs and allowing the people carrier to use routes that passengers would travel in their own car or on a regular bus.
However, the concept doesn’t come without its shortcomings. The dimensions quoted show that the clearance underneath the Airbus is around two metres, meaning that the underpass would have to be limited to passenger cars.
Buses and trucks will either have to take different routes or risk getting stuck behind the high-riding road train.
Good idea to cut traffic jam&air pollution! Futuristic straddling bus, or land airbus, allows cars drive underneathhttps://t.co/TerFgyjvKq— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) May 23, 2016
Other dimensions quoted in the short video tweeted by China Xinhua News are a length of over 60 metres, height of 4.5 metres, and an underpass width of just under eight-metres.
Like a train, the Land Airbus would have several carriages, which in the concept video measure around 12 metres each.
Song Youzhou says that the first prototype for the new Land Airbus is already being assembled in south-east China and is likely to be soaring above traffic in July or August.
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