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The 300 km/h Superbus 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-your-super-seat dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Have you heard of the Superbus? You could have already, as it has been in prototype production for years, and has recently been gaining more attention at auto shows and through public demonstrations. Like a stretch Batmobile that seems yet another triumph for Saudi and Emirate auto enthusiasts, passengers and their entourages enter the car under a row of gull-wings. The bus runs on batteries, and it can fly along at nearly 300 km/h (or 192 mph), and quite 'silently.'"
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The 300 km/h Superbus

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:30PM (#40595269)

    First of all, the "thing" at the web site referenced is not a bus, itâ(TM)s a stretch limo. For example, the article goes on to say "The bus, which is better described as a sex-oozing cigarette-car..." Itâ(TM)s not a bus.

    Secondly, yes, I like the idea of a 200 MPH bus. As long as it is mechanically fixed in some way to a dedicated road â" maybe with something like a continuous piece of metal to guide it and prevent it from careening into space...

    Lastly, what's with the link to some advert-laden page-view magnet, instead of a direct link to the website of the project in question? Does Slashdot employ editors anymore? Did they ever?

    Here it is: http://www.superbusproject.com/ [superbusproject.com]

    • by Ichijo (607641) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:39PM (#40595381) Homepage Journal

      As long as you're using a continuous piece of metal to keep it on the road, you could energize that metal and eliminate the need for batteries.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >dedicated road

      Yes. That would fly.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        >dedicated road

        Yes. That would fly.

        Quite a hazard to aircraft, though I'm puzzled as to why it would be a necessary requirement.

        Strat

    • I am not sure a Super-Bus will solve our Mass Transpiration needs. I find the issue isn't as much about the Top Speed of the Bus. But the logistics of getting enough people to fill it up, and Drop them off in the right spots.

      Having a rail line, or a bus lane, only helps in particular areas.
      For Americans we are often much too spread out for good mass transit. Getting from Point A to Point B will take 3 hours. For 10 miles... It is actually faster to Bike, then to take the bus. Unless you are in NYC or

      • by russotto (537200)

        It is actually faster to Bike, then to take the bus. Unless you are in NYC or Boston.

        In NYC, a Big Wheel [mydamnchannel.com] beats the bus. That's not a fluke, either; I've beaten the M14 just walking.

      • If you build the rail, people will live there. The only reason people live by highways is because ... the highway was put there to attract residential development.

        Raleigh is currently suffering major growing pains, and unfortunately the state has chosen to build a highway through farmlands to house everyone... yeah, I definitely want to live 40 miles from RTP in the middle of nowhere and commute with $5/gal gas looming on the horizon... no, building a light rail system and encouraging people to live in the Raleigh/Durham corridor is a waste of money I tell you.

        Where there is rail, people will use it. See NYC (commuting into NYC from Long Island is a breeze on the train, effectively impossible by car, and that's a good thing), Boston, DC, etc. DC to a lesser extent because the Metro hasn't expanded into areas where people live, but MARC is tolerable if you only need to go into the city in the morning and back out in the evening.

        The whole "we're too spread out" argument is perfectly valid in the midwest though... and luckily most of our population exists hugging the coast lines. So... highways for the midwesterners, rail for the rest of us! Unfortunately, U.S. central policy is obsessed with "one solution for every part of our geographically diverse land" for whatever reason.

        • Rail needs either distance or population density to be economically viable. Given that 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, yeah, it works in densely populated areas, but for example the rail in the middle of nowhere they plan here in California isn't going to see a lot of ridership.

          Even if it's economically viable, it does give a nice single choke-point where people without individual transport can have their mobility drastically reduced if someone in power thinks it's in their bes

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday July 09, 2012 @05:00PM (#40596273) Homepage

        You're doing it wrong. Instead of trying to graft a mass transport system on to a city you need to make new destinations that mass transport can take you to. In Japan the rail companies build big stations in new places, complete with attached shopping centre, and it becomes a destination in itself. That then helps relieve congestion in other areas too.

        Ideally you want to design around transport, but since we have big cities that need to be dealt with this is a good option for re-engineering them.

    • by chispito (1870390)
      I don't think it's practical, but I get the point. Think of this as a train that can adjust local stops on the fly before being embarking on regional "railways."
    • what's with the link to some advert-laden page-view magnet

      The internet has ads?

    • by flyneye (84093)

      You'd like it till you rode in it that fast.
      Have you honestly rode/ driven anything over 150 mph? At 160 phone poles actually begin picket fence illusion. at 180 you realize gforce has you firmly back in your seat and every pebble in the road becomes a factor in handling.At 200 mph you pray your tires( rated for no more than 80 mph) don't come apart and any vibration your car ever had comes to life like a percussion section. This test has personally been conducted by me using a Mach I with a 429 cobra jet,

      • Depends on the vehicle. I've been almost that fast in the passenger side of a car (don't remember what it was), it felt fairly quick. 130-140mph can feel kinda slow and cruisy on a modern sports bike (to the point where you have to be _extremely_ careful in what you do with the throttle), whereas 60mph can feel faster/more dangerous by comparison on a 2-stroke from the 70s. A larger bike from the late 60s felt like it was going to fall apart at 110.
  • Yawn (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:33PM (#40595299)

    I'll pass, I saw the film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bus [wikipedia.org]

    • by kmahan (80459)

      One of the best parts of that movie is how the tire changes happen -- at full speed and the old tire is ejected off to the side.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:33PM (#40595303)
    was funny in pats I guess.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bus [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:33PM (#40595305)

    That the bathroom is broken, and the next stop is in 1500 miles.

    • With the quoted battery rage of 200 km/125 miles per charge, you'd have 12 stops in that 1500 miles just to swap batteries out. With stops that frequent, I doubt there would ever be a need for an on-board bathroom.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The bus runs on batteries, and it can fly along at nearly 300 km/h (or 192 mph), and quite 'silently.'

    Great, as if it wasn't easy enough to get hit by a bus before, they went and invented one that can do 192 MPH while making no noise...

    • You could put a padded cow catcher on the front to loft pedestrians harmlessly over the top of the vehicle.

  • If I'm not mistaken, there was a SuperBus in there as well that did 300km/h

  • Just don't let Lucky Star Bus Line get a hold of it. They have a hard enough time not flipping their 70mph buses.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For those times when you want to go somewhere, but you don't want to take anything with you or bring anything back.

    In other words, fine for going from your hotel to your business meeting, but that's about it. Like a limo without the privacy and quiet. I can't imagine a use for this that would justify dedicated 200km/h lanes.

    • by vlm (69642)

      For those times when you want to go somewhere, but you don't want to take anything with you or bring anything back.

      In other words, fine for going from your hotel to your business meeting, but that's about it. Like a limo without the privacy and quiet. I can't imagine a use for this that would justify dedicated 200km/h lanes.

      I'm not a sports fan, but this sounds ideal for regional sports "away games". Faster than a plane because of no security theater, while fast enough to get to The Big Game in a reasonable amount of time.

      For example the closest pro football team is a good 2 hours away at 75 MPH, but using that 2 hour criteria suddenly there's at least 4, maybe 5 within range?

      Sports is pretty much just an excuse for excessive drinking, and I imagine the motion sickness would be worse at 300 KMH than 90 KMH so that might get a

  • James drives something slowly!

    Richard wears a hat!

    And I build the fastest bus...........in the world.

  • by jasno (124830) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:45PM (#40595459) Journal

    Ok, so it's not really designed for mass public transportation, but it looks like it shows some concepts which could be easily applied to mass-transit, long-distance buses.

    Does anyone else think that self-driving, high-speed buses like that would eliminate the need for high-speed rail? With billions about to be spent on technology from the 1800's, it seems like there are other options which are much better suited to fulfilling America's transportation needs.

    • Any subsequent posts that denounce the cost of the California HSR deserve to be modded off-topic, because that'll degenerate into a total flame war.

    • by bhtooefr (649901)

      Metal wheels on metal rail have significantly lower rolling resistance than rubber tires on asphalt or concrete, though. And, the infrastructure for rail is better suited to providing electricity to a train (partially because there's already metal to metal contact) than the infrastructure for roads.

      • by jasno (124830)

        Well polyurethane 'tweels' are in development which should improve the rolling resistance(cuts it 'by half' in one article from 2005).

        The infrastructure, and more importantly land rights, for roads already exist, vs the tremendous cost and hassle of laying new rail lines.

        Buses can adapt to changing transportation needs quickly, unlike rail lines which take years(or decades).

        Natural gas is cheap and plentiful. Is electricity the only option? I don't think so. I'd bet that future battery technology along w

        • by vlm (69642)

          Buses can adapt to changing transportation needs quickly,

          Privately owned / rented bus / school bus, yes. Public, Heck no. Pay attention to your local paper, you'll get 50 bureaucrats and 25 elected officials debating for hours and fighting with the mayor about exactly where to place the bus stop relative to the new condo development. That's before the lawsuit gets filed by the condo developer and it all drags on. And every two horse suburb wants to set up their own service with their own schedule and damn everyone else who doesn't want to follow their transfe

      • by vlm (69642)

        Finally self driving trains are technologically a bit less complicated than self driving cars.

        I'm surprised no one has started outsourcing train/car/taxi driving to India. Well, I've seen the traffic in India... But the point I'm making is you could have any odd number of people cooperatively drive the vehicle. Since we're destroying the middle class intentionally we'll have nothing but ultra rich and ultra poor so we don't need self driving buses if the only thing on the road is ultra-luxury limos and fo

      • Re:Ok... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:11PM (#40595731)

        Metal wheels on rail also makes for generally lousy acceleration and braking, which in turn leads to complicated safety systems and long gaps between trains. Building a road for this ought to be a lot cheaper than electric high speed rail.

        Of course that is no use if the bus is extremely expensive. Current trains can easily cost USD 50,000 per seat, so if it can get anywhere near that figure it is a win. Operating costs may be higher, at least until it is made driverless.

        The big question is whether people will use it. Right now there is a "rail effect" where putting in a rail service with exactly the same characteristics as a bus service will attract perhaps a third more passengers. Even if it isn't faster or more reliable. Missing out on 1/4th of the passengers could easily kill off this idea.

    • Re:Ok... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:59PM (#40595611) Homepage Journal

      Does anyone else think that self-driving, high-speed buses like that would eliminate the need for high-speed rail?

      Well, sure!

      ... Except, according to TU Delft's website, [superbusproject.com] the feasibility of their 'superbus' is dependent on...

      Wait for it...

      Dedicated roadways! You know, like the ones trains run on, sans rails. So, not all that different after all (light rail actually wins out on this one, thanks to the ability to actually attach the vehicle to the infrastructure...)

      • by jasno (124830)

        Yeah but that requirement is obviously driven by the presence of human-piloted vehicles on the roadways.

        In 25 years, do you think you'll be able to drive your own car anymore? I doubt it. Autonomous vehicles are coming, and I suspect that in a quarter century we'll be regulating human-operated vehicles off public roads.

        • Yeah but that requirement is obviously driven by the presence of human-piloted vehicles on the roadways.

          Would be nice if you had reference what you mean by "that requirement"... Assuming you mean it in reference to dedicated roadways, it's not 'human-piloted' that's the issue, so much as the sheer volume of traffic. 250 million cars on the road is 250 million cars on the road, regardless of who's controlling them.

          On top of that, thanks to our continuing foray into the abject failure that is trickle-down economics (/rant), people are hanging on their cars for much, much longer... [time.com] If the trend continues, 25

          • On top of that, thanks to our continuing foray into the abject failure that is trickle-down economics (/rant), people are hanging on their cars for much, much longer... [time.com]

            The article you quoted blames better cars, not "trickle-down" economics for the "problem" you mention.

            I'm not actually sure why you think that raising taxes (presumably on the rich) would affect how long anyone keeps their cars, though.

            Personally, I drive them to a couple hundred thousand miles and change before I sell one. But

      • Dedicated roadways! You know, like the ones trains run on, sans rails. So, not all that different after all (light rail actually wins out on this one, thanks to the ability to actually attach the vehicle to the infrastructure...)

        Actually, the bus only needs dedicated roadways for high-speed sections. It can merge into normal traffic (or existing bus lanes) in cities.
        Part of the concept is that the bus has no fixed route. This is impossible with a rail vehicle.

        As for attaching the vehicle to the infrastructure: not really. A train is constrained in only one dimension, by flanges that are a couple of cm high. A roadway with guard rails on either side offers more protection.

        The Superbus is a concept that might work in areas where a hi

        • Dedicated roadways! You know, like the ones trains run on, sans rails. So, not all that different after all (light rail actually wins out on this one, thanks to the ability to actually attach the vehicle to the infrastructure...)

          Actually, the bus only needs dedicated roadways for high-speed sections. It can merge into normal traffic (or existing bus lanes) in cities. Part of the concept is that the bus has no fixed route. This is impossible with a rail vehicle.

          Yea, I know the CGI videos on their website show the lenghty beast easily slipping in and out of tight city streets with zero regard to physics, but I find the idea highly unrealistic. Ever see a stretch limo attempt to navigate a roundabout? Funny to watch, nigh impossible if you're the driver.

          Here's another flaw in the plan: The concept is for more of an up-scale, private limo service than a traditional bus, right? Okay, so we know the only people riding will be the well off - the question becomes, who p

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      It will work great as long as the dedicated high speed road provides sufficient grip to turn corners (however slight) at those speeds. It's not a coincidence that this system is intended to (possibly) be launched in a desert country with no winter and no rain to speak of.

      I think the future of cross country bus travel is going to be self-driving buses that travel at the same speeds as today, but with lower per mile costs. The buses will probably have 3-abreast seating and more legroom at roughly the same tic

  • With all of these 21st century ultra-highspeed rail systems, would an approach like this with dedicated tracks or roads work better?

  • It still smells like pee and has uncomfortable seats.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:50PM (#40595515) Homepage

    OK, somebody built a stretch-limo electric supercar. Those are fun, but not too useful. A stretch-limo version of a Ferrari has been built.

    The dual rear axles steer, so the turning circle is reasonable. (Many tour buses have that feature.) The limited ground clearance is going to be a problem on a long vehicle. It would have trouble with many driveways and all speed bumps. They should have put in a suspension that allows lifting the vehicle when necessary.

    The demo vehicle has lead-acid batteries and limited range. The designer talks about going to a more advanced battery technology. They also talk about battery swapping, but they'd need a network of battery-swap stations sized for this thing.

    • The limited ground clearance is going to be a problem on a long vehicle. It would have trouble with many driveways and all speed bumps. They should have put in a suspension that allows lifting the vehicle when necessary.

      Given the expected top range (~200km) and the planned top speed (up to 300km/h) I think that this system, if it sees deployment, would be better suited for inter-city travel, rather than intra-city.
      Thus it needs less emphasis on being able to drive inside a city and its various problems (speed bumps, etc.), and more emphasis in being able to travel on the high-way between cities.

      The demo vehicle has lead-acid batteries and limited range. The designer talks about going to a more advanced battery technology. They also talk about battery swapping, but they'd need a network of battery-swap stations sized for this thing.

      Well, you're also going to need a network of bus stations anyway (one in each city along the route, prefeabily located not too far

  • I probably know a little bit more about this thing than most and most of it is not good. Usually when trying something new, you'd expect people to try and prove the concept before doing anything really expensive. Here it was the other way around. Most of the effort was put into making a flashy prototype with all the bells and whistles in place. Really, worrying about where to mount the LCD displays? The result is a machine that incredibly expensive with no chance of commercialisation because litterally ever

  • Speed is irrelevant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:57PM (#40595589) Journal

    The speed of mass transit solutions is often irrelevant unless you're talking about ~300 mile trips where High Speed Rail becomes competitive with air travel. A much bigger factor is frequency. If you have to wait 15 minutes at a stop rather than 30 minutes then that shaves a considerable amount of time off your journey without resorting to unsafe velocities. When you see a tram with an aerodynamic front puttering along the street at 20MPH then you know that the aero front was all for show and had more to do with securing funding than actually improving performance. I suspect that the advertised top speed of this 'bus' has more to do with getting publicity and investor attention than anything that's likely to see service. Even on a German autobahn I wouldn't want to be sitting on a bus that goes faster than 70MPH.

    That said, journey time alone is not the only factor in mass transit. Comfort and convenience are a big deal. I know I'd rather have a nap or read a book or get some work done than have to focus on driving.

    Some of the routing ideas mentioned in the project's website are worth a closer look. Some interesting concepts in there.

    • by PPH (736903)

      When you see a tram with an aerodynamic front puttering along the street at 20MPH then you know that the aero front was all for show

      Nope. There is a reason for that smooth, sloped nose. Idaho Stops [wordspy.com].

      • When you see a tram with an aerodynamic front puttering along the street at 20MPH then you know that the aero front was all for show

        Nope. There is a reason for that smooth, sloped nose. Idaho Stops [wordspy.com].

        Huh? What's that got to do with the price of fish?

    • by xaxa (988988)

      The speed of mass transit solutions is often irrelevant unless you're talking about ~300 mile trips where High Speed Rail becomes competitive with air travel.

      Not long ago Transport for London were advertising that on the Victoria Line "the new [signalling] system will be fully in use by the end of 2012, allowing up to 33 trains per hour instead of 27. This in combination with the new, faster trains will increase the line's capacity overall by 21%" (from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], though the upgrade is now complete).

      If I've calculated that correctly, that means 12 seconds less waiting time on average, plus a faster journey. I think each train can carry ~1400 people (1200 standi

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      That touches on the biggest liability: drivers. If something like this became commonplace would you want someone with the skill of your average bus driver zipping along at 120mph holding your life in their hands?

  • by purpledinoz (573045) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:59PM (#40595605)
    Does anyone else fear that this will be an excuse to make another "Speed" movie?
    • I have a idea let push the bus to 250MPH and drain the batterys so the bomb has no power to fire.

  • I like electric vehicles a lot. I think they have a lot of potential. But this is just dumb.

  • ... its debut here [lmi.net].

  • by K8Fan (37875) on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:34PM (#40595993) Journal

    The world's fastest limo! At that kind of speed, it might be the fastest way from LA to Las Vegas, if you count all the airport security, baggage, etc.

    This is the school bus that Bruce Wayne used to ride.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:47PM (#40596131)

    I found the limitations a bit much:

    200km range... or about 124 miles. Doesn't even get you from San Francisco to LA. Even if it only takes you 30minutes to get there, you're only saving about an hour. And this would required dedicated infrastructure/roads. Not exactly easy given that our highways are already crowded.

    Does it come with a spare? I realize that Greyhound buses have the same problem, but those buses a) carry many more people per trip and b) the company has a much better infrastructure for dealing with broken down buses. Plus the buses have no problems going over curbs, parking lot entrances etc..

    Where do you store luggage? Do you hold your bags on your lap?

    Looks like a stretch Ferrari. Interesting yes, practical no.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:52PM (#40596197) Homepage
    They're like a French No Doubt, right?
  • Been in planning for awhile in the US: http://www.theonion.com/video/obama-replaces-costly-highspeed-rail-plan-with-hig,18473/ [theonion.com]

    (and yes, I know it's a spoof)

  • at what speed do buses start getting seatbelts?

  • Wow someone made a really Big Bus [imdb.com]!!!
  • As long as Stockard Channing is aboard, I'll be there.

    RAISE THE FLAGS OF ALL NATIONS!

  • Am I the only one that wants to see the Stig take that thing through the hammerhead?

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