World’s leading states are joining the technological race to decide what transport of the future will look like. Why Russia places stake on SkyWay?
Why SkyWay finds recognition: a thought-provoking fact
“To recognize as innovative, to point out its viability, to support”, – this is the official opinion given by the representatives of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation in regards to SkyWay technology. Experts of the state confirmed the following: SkyWay surpasses the existing transport systems for a number of indices and can ensure qualitative growth of efficient passenger and cargo transportation. Members of the working group declared that the state is ready to consider a possibility of purchasing innovative products SkyWay after certification of engineering elements for the track structure and the rolling stock. What is such increased attention to the project on the part of the authorities associated with? Why is this attention drawn specifically now, considering that the project started to wander around ministerial offices about ten years ago, but up until now has not gained support? Several reasons can be singled out. Each of them is of crucial importance. However, it is even more important that all of them are united in the single historical moment, which is bound to become the game changer not only for transport sphere, but for the civilization on the whole. SkyWay turns out to be at the cutting edge of these processes and string systems can play first violin in them.
First reason: before buying something, one needs to see it
Construction of the Center for international assessment and certification of innovative transport – SkyWay EcoTechnoPark – has become the turning point in the development of SkyWay technology. Creator of the technology Anatoly Yunitskiy has repeatedly spoken about the necessity to demonstrate the operating model of the product to customers in order to initiate sales. In the course of one of his interviews, he gave the following example:
— Suppose, I want to sell you a device, which has all the functions of a modern mobile phone, and it will not require recharging. It will allow you to make and receive calls absolutely for free, it will have a small weight and an operation period of 100 years. In addition, its price is 10 times less compared to an ordinary phone, – offered Yunitskiy to the correspondent. — Will you buy it? After all, the thing is really good, — he continued asking. — Would you like to see this device before buying it? Sure, you would. In fact, it is the case with everything and transport is not an exception. Before buying something, a person wants to see this “something” with their own eyes.
EcoTechnoPark, even half-constructed, gives an idea of what SkyWay transport systems could look like: compact, light, they do not require a lot of construction material, which means they are cost-effective. The stated speed is extraordinary, and location of the vehicle above the ground on supports ensures safety and allows to solve the whole range of problems, which exist in modern cities. “If it works, we will buy it”, — virtually announced representatives of Mintrans. The same was said by Australian officials.
Second reason: economic decline and search for new growth points
Cheap construction and operation is another reason to pay attention to SkyWay transport systems. This circumstance makes the engineering solutions offered within these systems especially attractive considering those difficult economic conditions that Russia has found itself in. The notorious second Russian problem (roads) has a great impact in the economic and geopolitical sense. It is obvious for everybody that development of transport services in Russia could provide for the country a transfer to the whole new level, encourage growth of related branches of industry, create additional employment, reduce dependence on extraction and sale of raw materials, etc. However, for as long as oil prices were high, nobody gave it a second thought. Now, when the situation has dramatically changed, SkyWay looks as the most attractive variant for track construction for the very reason of low cost.
Third reason: the world at the crossroads
The third reason for increased attention to SkyWay project on the part of the state is the technological race and global processes, which cannot but affect Russia and from which it does not want to remain aside.
Ecological and transport problems step forward today and emphasize social, political and economic programs, breakthrough scientific achievements, technical solutions and even artistic search. There are all grounds to believe that the next crucial leap in the development of humanity after Internet invention will be related to the implementation of new means of transport services.
Out of all branches of science and technology development, inventions in transport sector are the most essential. Development of cybernetics, nanotechnologies and neurobiology, work on creation of new materials and search for alternative energy sources is undoubtedly of great importance. However, practically all research carried out in these directions have a strategic nature and aimed at “tomorrow”, while transport problems require the solution right now.
“Now there is a great disruption in the world economy, — says Anatoly Yunitskiy in his interview to the correspondent of news agency “RZD-Partner”, — information is transferred within seconds, money – within minutes, but cargo and people are transported, on average, at the speeds of the end of the XIXth century. This disruption restrains a quantum leap in the sustainable development of the society and economics, and is an indirect cause of growing crises. The greatest damage caused to the environment by all kinds of transport also contradicts the idea of a healthy society. Expensive construction and operation of transport infrastructure makes it unaffordable for the whole range of countries and unwealthy population (even in Russia there are cancellations of the required but inefficient suburban trains)”.
What Anatoly Yunitskiy has enumerated is far from being a complete list of problems related to transport. High cost of transport leads to shift of balance: cities are congested and get suffocated in clouds of exhaust gases, remote regions and third world countries suffer a shortage of transport, which makes their situation even worse and thwarts progress. Nowadays, there is about a billion automobiles in the world and over 90% of their total number is in the USA, Japan and countries of Europe. An automobile is still a means of transport for some people, and a luxury product for others. Paradoxically, for some people, this luxury product makes transportation a kind of luxury, and for others – this means of transport hinders transportation at all. An average travel speed of transport in a big city does not exceed 15 km/h, whereas a trip to the neighbouring village for a Zambian turns out to be a real problem.
Environmental contamination and global warming, disbalance in distribution of material values between citizens of different countries, terrorism and political instability arising as a consequence of this disbalance, economic crises and increasing level of estrangement of individuals, who escape from reality into virtual space – all this is associated with transport either directly, or implicitly. A combination of these problems creates an invincible obstacle on the way to progress. It is specifically for this reason that leading states of the world pay such a great deal of attention to the developments in transport sphere. And Russia is included into their number.
Time to choose the way: main trends and directions of transport development
The USA, China, Japan, Russia and EU countries work out different variants to solve transport problems, suggesting their vision of how people and cargo will be transported in the near future: vacuum-tube trains, magnetic levitation trains, electromobiles, autonomous transport, varieties of monorail tracks. Announcements of new developments in transport sphere appear in mass media with the regularity that modern transport itself could only dream of. Excitement for electromobiles Tesla or another offspring of controversial innovator Elon Musk — Hyperloop — deserves a special notice. The main trends and directions offered for a change of transport include improvement of aerodynamic properties, speed increase, location of the track above the ground, use of automated control systems, unification of transport systems and their disintermediation (elimination of inefficient transport mediators).
What concerns vacuum-tube trains, this technology theoretically could eradicate the problem of air resistance and provide a possibility of speeds over 1,000 km/h. However, works on the creation of such technology are in their initial stage at the moment and arouse more questions rather than give answers to the challenges. Thus, Professor Johannes Kluehspies, President of the International Maglev Board says that Hyperloop is “technically a strange and questionable kind of transportation”. His opinion is shared by Head of the Center of innovative development — branch of OJSC “Russian Railways” Aleksandr Korchagin. He, in his turn, wonders what tube configuration must be ensured for this kind of transport. “What are the admissible curves, ascents and descents? The impression is that the tolerances in that case are rather small. In this connection, is it possible to build a lengthy track in practice with such restrictions?” — addresses Aleksandr his questions to the authors of Hyperloop. “From the point of view of project payback, — he develops his idea further — for today, it is hardly feasible: a passenger will hardly be able to pay for the ticket on this kind of transport. It will be too expensive.” Moreover, this technology does not envisage a possibility of being used within the city, and consequently it is unable to solve the problem of transport congestion in megalopolises.
Within the Hyperloop project, it is planned to use a magnetic levitation rolling stock. This construction of chassis is viewed by many people as the most appropriate solution for vehicles moving in the atmosphere. Magnetic levitation systems have a range of significant advantages compared to a conventional railway. When using magnetic levitation, interaction forces between a carriage and a track structure are equally distributed along the whole rolling stock, and have a relatively small impact on the track. This gives a possibility to significantly increase the train speed and useful load on carriages without compromising comfort. Furthermore, maglev trains produce much less noise, and an overpass design in these systems allows to reduce the required area of land acquisition for construction, which is especially important in urban conditions, where it is offered to use monorail maglev trains today.
The main disadvantage of such systems is their high cost, which can bring to nothing all their advantages. Moreover, if a maglev train in vacuum can reach incredible speeds, its use in the atmosphere is not reasonable, as one of the main problems is preserved — a roadbed in magnetic levitation systems is a screen, decreasing aerodynamic properties of the rolling stock at least twofold by the fact of its availability. It is for this reason that cruise speed of maglev trains at present cannot exceed 320 km/h.
In contrast, SkyWay will be able to develop the speed of up to 500 km/h when designed in the form, which is planned for construction of these systems in the near future. Such indices become possible not due to increase of engine power, but due to exceptional aerodynamics of the rolling stock, which is achieved when rejecting a solid roadbed and having the vehicle moving along narrow string rails. Elimination of screening effect provides, in addition to speed, significant energy saving when moving. Energy efficiency of SkyWay systems is significantly higher than in transport solutions offered by competitive technologies. SkyWay overpass, the construction cost of which is at least 10 times less than that of overpasses used in magnetic levitation systems, has the same advantages: reduction of the area for land acquisition, increased travel safety, possibility of city roads decongestion, etc. However, the main game changer is that SkyWay technology allows to build new tracks by times cheaper than in all other variants.
SkyWay successfully unites the main trends and directions in transport development and offers its original solutions regarding each of them. Apart from the above said, it is worth noting that SkyWay technology, which has a 30-year bundle of research, significantly surpasses projects on creation of vacuum-tube trains and other exotic concepts of future transport in terms of its elaboration. SkyWay is a transport of today, ready to effectively fulfill all the required functions and to solve many current problems of the modern society. Implementation of SkyWay technology can allow Russia, which was one of the first to show its interest at the country level, to become a leader in transport sphere — one of the most prestigious and, along with this, one of the most problematic.
Place your stakes
As the history shows, the world changes every time, when there is a change of transport mode in the world. Invention of the wheel, invention of the saddle and bridle, advancement of navigation devices, steam engine and internal combustion engine, aerofoil profile, etc. are all key milestones in the development of civilization. Creation of a new kind of transport inevitably leads to drastic transformations in all spheres of life of the society. Today, we are standing on the verge of another breakthrough, and there has commenced a real technological race in transport sphere. Its winner will decide what the world will be in the future. In terms of elaboration of its technology and its embodiment in the operating model, SkyWay is obviously among the favourites. Ladies and gentlemen, place your stakes!