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Old 30th May 2010, 02:58   #1
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Default Why are we still on four wheels?

The other day I read an article somewhere on an artificial heart developed by a company called “AbioMed”. These artificial hearts are fully implantable within a patient suffering from heart problems. Heres the wiki link if you want to read more:
AbioCor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So anyway it got me thinking about modern advancements in technology, or rather the lack of it, in one of the most crucial areas of human invention – the car!

Think about it, this is the age of Nano technology, Ipods, Artificial hearts, internet and TV on mobile phones ,fuel cells (fuel cells that generate electricity - Almost there: a commercially viable fuel cell), what not!

Yet when it comes to the mainstream automobile industry, we are pretty much at the very same spot from where we started, on four wheels! So all these years after the revolution of the wheel, we’ve progressed from bullock carts to cars, to maybe super fast cars with better engines, better traction control systems, better brakes, with better looking dashboards and gizmos inside etc. but despite of all their glory and glamour, they still run on four wheels with an engine and a steering wheel!

Not that I have genius ideas of my own to revolutionize ground transport, but I do wonder that with all the money that goes into R&D and with all the new advancements, innovations and inventions, Why could we not come up with a more advanced mode of ground transport in all this while? and if we did, why has it not replaced "the car".


Would definitely like to get your views on this!



PS: I do understand that most of us at Team BHP are very deeply attached to cars! and of course i do not wish to hurt anyone's sentiments. this is just a random thought!
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Old 30th May 2010, 10:30   #2
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Nice POV.
Imo next step from 4 wheels is no wheels at all, with personalized hover cars for all
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Old 30th May 2010, 12:47   #3
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behold!

i came across this the other day and it looks completely out of the world. (hope its not a repost)

Aircruise Concept by Seymourpowell |
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Old 30th May 2010, 13:43   #4
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A long time ago I made a feasibility study to introduce light aircraft two seaters that are powered by small twin engines capable to fly at speeds of just under 200kph with a fuel consumtion of 2 litres per hour, which is close to 100km per litre. These aircraft are affordable even when being built in rather small numbers.

Organising the flight pats would be fairly easy going along motorways on 2 flight levels that opposing traffic is not affecting each other in any way dangerously.

In theory it would be a perfect transportation system: Fast, no traffic economical and environmentally friendly.

The practical side of it: 98% of the population would not be able to fly. Every pilot would need to know its plane inside out. Technical problems would eradicate half the population in no time as most of the people would not take the care to make sure that their planes are up to safe flying.

Even the ones who look after their plane are not necessarily safe as strong winds, sheer winds etc would lead to a lot of crashes and crash landings. Miscalcultaions of fueling would also contribute to emergency situations.

Quite a few other contributors to problems could be named, but I think these are enoug already to put anyone of who is in the right frame of mind.

Hovering is something intriguing. I have been able to cross the English channel well over 100 times with Hovercraft. It was everytime an unforgettable experience. Going from dry land to water and ending up on dry land is something else. Once the channel was as flat as a mirror. This was the fastest criossing I ever had going with nearly 140kph over the water.

Sadly Hovercraft is not operating anymore. The catamarans, which are the fastest vessels across the seas at the moment are only half the speed. The resons for not using Hovercraft any more is the fuel consumption problem, which was outrageous.

For wheels have got great advantages over many other form of transport. They are reasonably safe even when not maintained to highest standards. The hard shoulder is not a problem unlike in aircraft. The fuel conlsumption is acceptable. Landing and taking of is no problem. You can bring a car to standstill fairly easyily without a heavy impact or further damge when engine is stalling etc.

An alternative the Zeppelin AG is trying to re-introduce is air ships. The Hindenburg was three times as long as an 380, that would carry in the stretch version 983 passengers. The Hindenburg could carry less than 90 incl crew and a maximum of 11tons of cargo.

Todays airships are lighter due to carbon fibre technology, but the things are still massive and will cost amounts we don't even want to think of.

Maybe the guys who came up with the first four wheelers had more of a vision than we can imagine?
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Old 30th May 2010, 17:08   #5
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Travelling in 2-Dimensions is still FAR from perfect.

I remember a stat saying that less Americans died in Vietnam than in car accidents during the summer.

Even if that stat is incorrect, theres still a huge scope for improvement before a 3rd Dimension is introduced.


As for something other than 4-wheels. Well, segway, Honda U-3x, auto-rickshaw

cya
R
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Old 30th May 2010, 17:34   #6
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I thought we are already advanced with buses having 6 wheels.

Any coming to the point, the advancement doesnt necessarily need to have in reducing the wheel count we are far advanced in terms of the speed, power and mileage that these modern cars can deliver, I would he more than happy with that.
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Old 30th May 2010, 18:09   #7
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I'd say " Why are we still on wheels? "
Time to get vehicles off the petroleum grid and on to the electricity grid. Electricity, at least, can be produced locally.
Let's say have cars running on electricity on the same roads running electric motors - something like the little bump-play-cars.

Last edited by hellmet : 30th May 2010 at 18:13.
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Old 30th May 2010, 18:31   #8
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We are still on wheels,as for now its the most easiest and appropriate means of travel,you dont need to be geek to drive a car,same may not be the case if one were to fly a small aircraft or something.

let the sky be free,we are not ready for traffic jams in the air yet
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Old 30th May 2010, 20:55   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
We are still on wheels,as for now its the most easiest and appropriate means of travel,you dont need to be geek to drive a car,same may not be the case if one were to fly a small aircraft or something.

let the sky be free,we are not ready for traffic jams in the air yet
Well maybe when we start flying in the air, vehicles won't need to be handled just by geeks. But, just wondering about what would happen if we Indians take to the air. Changing heights, jumping over dividers and traveling into the opposite traffic. Boy, that'd be fun.
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Old 31st May 2010, 14:53   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
Well maybe when we start flying in the air, vehicles won't need to be handled just by geeks. But, just wondering about what would happen if we Indians take to the air. Changing heights, jumping over dividers and traveling into the opposite traffic. Boy, that'd be fun.
Our auto rickshaws are almost there, only the vertical movement is lacking at the moment. I am sure the auto drivers will improvise there too and show us the way.

On a serious note, there is lot of distance to go in terms of maturity before we embark on other modes of travel.
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Old 31st May 2010, 15:47   #11
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If its about imagination, then we can have multiple conveyer belts (with multiple speeds, increasing progressively as we go from one end to the middle) for intra-city mobility. all roads would be constantly moving this way and one would not need any vehicles at all!!! You will just need to hop onto the belts (like we do at some airports / malls) and if the distance to cover is more, one can jump to faster belts. (So lets say if you have 11 belts, you can have speeds of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 KMPH) or you can have lesser speeds (multiple of 5) and more belts etc. I think on a normal 2 lane you can easily pack 10-12 such belts... Of course you'd have high speed trains / aeroplanes for inter-city or inter-national travel. For safety/convinience you could have rails etc to hold on to, or even have seats on the belts for comfort... Use your imagination...

This solves lot of problems - parking , pollution etc.

Only problem is feasibility!! And also What will happen to our beloved cars then
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Old 31st May 2010, 15:54   #12
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What exactly are people suggesting here? car on wings? Imagine a crow with a mobile phone jay-flying.
Well, with transportation being so energy intensive, hope the world concentrates on teleportation.
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Old 31st May 2010, 16:16   #13
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I think Magnetic Levitation will reduce Friction drastically;and if some one find way to Implement Maglev for Roads too ,May be it can reduce the Wheeled Vehicles We have.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev_(transport)

Last edited by deepclutch : 31st May 2010 at 16:17. Reason: added wiki hyperlink
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Old 31st May 2010, 16:31   #14
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True advancement will be when there is no personal transportation of any kind, and instant,super efficient public transportation takes care of all our travel needs!

I am reminded of some Asimov novels, where the road will be moving at a particular speed, and one will use accelerating strips to move to the centre of the road and stand there till he reaches his destination. Then he will make use of deceleration strips to get off the road and reach his place!
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Old 31st May 2010, 16:56   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xingamazon View Post
I thought we are already advanced with buses having 6 wheels.

Any coming to the point, the advancement doesnt necessarily need to have in reducing the wheel count .
Hi Xingamazon,

i think you missed my point, its not about the number of wheels, its about an alternative mode of ground transportation. maybe i was not clear enough about that.. sorry

well we do have trains and planes, but what i thought of is the lack of an alternative approach,which is mass-oriented and economical, faster and more organized than the car or the entire system of wheeled vehicles. like others have mentioned, something like hovering or hovercrafts or conveyor belts (which sounds pretty interesting).

I understand that wheeled vehicles are very efficient in their current form, but they use non-renewable resources, pollute, create a bunch of problems like accidents, traffic jams, congestion, parking problems even road rage etc. and despite of all the advancement and innovations, work on the age old concept of an engine on wheels.

so how about something radical and genius which is capable of replacing the car?

maybe something like the skytran SkyTran - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

or maybe an enhanced version of the heathrow pod


Last edited by Sli_ce : 31st May 2010 at 17:03.
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