Six years ago we showed the crazy Chinese 3D fast bus and everyone thought it was silly vaporware. Three years ago we showed an updated version, the Land Airbus which got to the animated video stage. Now it appears that it is at the model stage, zipping through the International High-tech Expo in Beijing the other day.
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
At 60 Km/hr It's not quite as fast as a hyperloop, but it holds 1400 passengers in comfort as it zips down the highway, and it is really designed as urban transport. Designer Song Youzhou says it will save a lot of road space, costing only 15% what a subway costs but serving pretty much the same function. It can also be built much more quickly. Given that it has the capacity of 40 buses, it will significantly reduce pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
It is hard to figure out how cars switch lanes given that there are the rails for this on either side, but the video does show it going through intersections so perhaps the rails are like streetcar tracks, integrated into the pavement.
Of course this was proposed in America 45 years ago by architect and visionary Lester Walker and Craig Hodgetts for New York City. His was even more ingenious in that it never actually stopped; Instead buses would drive underneath; computers would take over the driving to ensure they are going exactly the same speed, and then a giant claw would lift the buses up into the Landliner. Like the Chinese design, it has the great advantage that it runs in existing rights-of-way, over existing highways, so there are no land acquisition costs, environmental or other regulatory issues that might slow it down. More on the Landliner in TreeHugger here.