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|The Future is Coming... on Stilts|
|Written by Nick Eames|
|Monday, 07 March 2011 23:33|
China. A country with an ever-increasing population, currently numbering over 1.3 billion, its cities choking on petrol fumes, with roads rendered useless by gridlocked vehicles. It is staring right into the teeth of an environmental crisis that issues a stark challenge: modernise, or collapse under your own weight! Fortunately, China is home to some ingenious inventor-types, who are coming up with some truly innovative solutions to a tough problem.
Enter Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd, with a public transport system they have named the Straddling Bus. Essentially a colossal passenger deck mounted on stilts, the bus can drive over traffic jams completely unimpeded, allowing its users to have a good gloat at the expense of their fellow commuters. It will look rather like a tunnel on wheels, either running on rails, or being programmed to follow lines painted on the road. Neither system requires significant alteration to current infrastructure, and building a stretch of bus-way will not only be faster than building an equivalent length of subway, but can also be done at a fraction of the cost. Designed as an environmental measure, the system runs on grid electricity, supplemented by solar panels mounted on the roof. Its designers hope that it will serve to cut both carbon emissions and air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road.
Despite the highly entertaining notion of the stilt-bus and the obvious amount of thought that has gone into its design, it remains to be seen how successful a plan mixing computerised and manual vehicles will be. The designers claim that the flow of traffic through the bus will be regulated by signals on its underside, but the thought of the Straddling Bus deciding to turn right when the unsuspecting traffic in its cavernous belly is still bent on going straight ahead conjures scenes of carnage that wouldn't feel out of place in a Michael Bay film.
Of course, there is a very serious question that has yet to be explored in any of the press surrounding this novel invention: what happens when, as seems fairly inevitable, there is the first straddling bus jam?
Nick Eames, in the absence of a local stilt-bus, is planning on recreating the experience by hiring a team of undergrads to bear him merrily over the crowds of Cambridge every Saturday.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 March 2011 19:39|