When Volkswagen launched its "People’s Car" project, soliciting ideas for futuristic visions and concepts that could be made into reality, more than 119,000 ideas were posted, including the Hover Car, the Music Car, and the Smart Key. All were highlighted at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show.
The Music Car concept involves an LED-covered Volkswagen Beetle that changes color to match the music selections of the driver, while the zero-emission, two-seated Hover Car levitates above the road and propels itself forward using electromagnetic road networks.
The Smart Key concept caters to the uber-attached, providing them with a 9mm HD touchscreen on the ignition key that monitors the status of the car throughout the day and keeps tabs on it via satellite transmission.
Wow, this is a pretty incredible concept car. It's actually so far out there, it makes me wonder how real the actual concept is and how much special effects come into play. I just can't get my head around the science of enabling a vehicle to do that. Interaction with underground minerals just doesn't seem like enough of an explaination.
Beth, I think that the car interacts with a cable in the ground that creates the magnetic field needed. This is just like the maglev train. It is a nice idea, but the cost of putting all that power in the ground is prohibitive.
That makes much more sense, but even with that, it's still somewhat surreal. I hear what you're saying about the cost of laying all that cable infrastructure down. It seems that infrastructure cost goes hand in hand, though, with any of these new alternative technologies. Infrastructure costs for laying some sort of power cable for this concept car, battery charging station infrastructure for pure EV technology, and whatever is required for the autonomous vehicles that Chuck is writing about. Somehow for all this innovation to take place, there has to be monies to fund wholesale infrastructure development--all at a time, when we can't find monies to fund existing infrastructure like bridges and highway systems.
The idea of personal magnetically levitated hovercraft doesn't seem very practical. The greater the air-gap, the less efficient. Further, and probably of greater significance, the energy required to support the weight of the craft, in comparison to a wheel/bearing/axle suspended system (which would also be capable of use off the grid) seems wasteful. Maglev trains require a lot of precision alignment and maintenance but the high cost is offset by the utilization density.
This is all marketing hype and no real technology. Not something DesignNews should be reporting on. I'm starting to wonder how many of these "design news" articles aren't just advertisements presented with an engineering flavor to dupe us into reading them. How many more articles on 3D printing and Indy "tech" are there?
This is a work of fiction, not a real vehicle. Although, yes, it IS a concept.
Is it really ZERO EMISSIONS? No. That's either a lie by someone who knows better, or the ignorant utterance of an advertising wonk. The power has to come from somewhere, and wherever it's sourced, there are emissions.
Will it really just run on the roads in Chungdu? Canal water! The density of heavy metals cannot be high enough to enable this... besides which, the riches in exotic materials in the Chungdu area of Sechzuan are in mines, not on the surface.
There ARE maglev vehicles... trains above rails, in fact... and to have maglev cars, we'd have to have special roadways built.
But I have to hand it to Vee Dub... they've managed to prove PT Barnum right:
The VW hover car is a concept that is about 500 years premature. It will obviously use a weak force generator, anti-gravity beam for levitation. Then for locomotion it would require interaction with say, the Earth's geomagnetic field. You'd have to keep the magnetic force low enough so it didn't dangerously attract nearby loose magnetic material like other vehicles! Acceleration would therfore be very, very slow.
Actually, the ideal hover craft would use, instead of complex collision avoidance electronics, the concept of additional graviton fields that would sense the approach of other objects and repel itself from them, essentially slowing down. Moving forward on the highway would be as simple as falling in line behind other moving traffic as though you were a bumper car. You'd join other traffic and couple magnetically or with graviton fields as car couplers in a long train.
The power plant would be a grapfruit sized fusion power reactor with direct conversion to electrical and gravitational energy. :-)
Using CGI to demonstrate a concept outside the realm of physics is fraud. Why is this having any more serious discussion among engineers than the latest Chris Angel YouTube video? Entertaining yes, science? ...any learned person knows there's not a chance in hades this ccould happen with anything else other than the worlds most powerful super conductors burried into each pathway. Simply entertainment.
While I haven't taken the time to read all 39 blog entries as of this writing, for me this is a ridiculous undertaking! It's fine to have a maglev @ DISNEY or some other theme parks, but in reality for many of us, it is an exercise in frustration dealing with the local gov't agency responsible for filling potholes. It seems to me based on previous efforts around the globe that to develop this alternative form of transportation, it would take massive REVOLUTION in our road infrastructure, not evolution.
And, one more thing editorials & bloggers have posed the dilemma regarding EV's. While operating one may be considered environmentally friendly, etc. and reduce our dependency of fossil fuel resources, WHERE does the original energy come from to charge these vehicles? By the same token, WHERE does the massive amount of electrical energy come from to power these magnets, etc.? HUH???
Considering that we were all supposed to have flying cars by 1990, I like the new ideas that bring us closer to just beaming us places! It is time that the design process changes. We are working on better mileage and fancy electronics, but all cars look alike in their class, not like the 50s and 60s where there were defining features.
I would like to see defining features such as the hover car, gyro controlled one or two wheeler, or the ultimate- the flying car. After all, this is the 21st century for heaven's sake!
I love the idea of the hover car. I always figured it would come eventually. But what would that mean in managing traffic in the air? There is also the gimmick aspect. Remember those amphibian cars? Cool idea, not particularly practical.
This is great! Thanks for reporting on this. I also remember all those predictions in the 1960s about having flying cars by 2000. Now we just have to figure out traffic control. I hope it's more intelligent than the mess shown in, for example, The Fifth Element.
I'm afraid you'll have to count me as one of the non-believers, GlennA. The video refers to it reacting with "minerals" in the ground, which I don't understand. Maglev trains use the concept of the linear stator, and I suppose there could be a linear stator buried beneath the street along the course that it travels. But that, too, seems unlikely to me. Linear stators, like those used on the maglev trains in Germany, cost a ton of money to install. And even if they did use a linear stator, the air gap is still way too big. And what forces are they using to balance it (laterally)? This is really far-fetched, and there's just not enough information here for me to buy it. Count me as a non-believer.
This really isn't as far-fetched as one might think. This car flies the same way spaceships from other worlds do. Inside they have cats in harnesses that have jellied toast strapped to thier backs. The basic physics of the universe become unstable because the 'cat always lands on it's feet' force is counteracted by the 'jellied bread always lands jelly side down' force. The result is levitation! No German engineering involved.
Teqniqal; I'm not sure what the power difference is between toast with jelly and bread with butter. Although I think the lowest power rating would be bread with margarine. This would be a good military-funded research project to diecover which anti-gravity engine has the most power / heaviest lift. Perhaps the lifting power is relative to the size / breed of feline ? Maybe a siamese for a compact, perhaps a lion for an SUV, maybe a cheetah for the sports cars ?
Charles, I'm with you. I find it hard to believe this car can be levitated based on underground minerals. What type of minerals would have the right permeability to allow this car to float in the air as well as propel itself? Just based on fact that underground minerals would need to be availabe for proper car operation makes the concept not practical. I give VW an A+ for good imagination. I'm just not feeling it.
Charles, I agree with you. The video may be legitimate, but it seems a little too good to be true. It is amazing how Chendu in China has the unique minerals that allow the car to float. If you float out of town, would your car grind to a halt.
Stuff like this really make me feel dumb. Since it occured in this publication, I believed this was just a highly edited. actual experience. Now I feel like the poor shlub who has been duped by a carnival barker. I agree with an earlier poster who felt Design News should not publish things such as this without a disclaimer.
The idea of hover cars and hover boards that work by pushing against an installed metal grid or naturally occurring mineral veins in the ground is directly lifted from "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld. It is a pretty neat concept, but the cloud labeled "then a miracle occurs" is a fairly sizable thunderhead. Other than the "car" that the couple sits in, this is certainly CG. I especially like the part where they take an elevated off-ramp - must be relying on the rebar mesh in the concrete as they would be pretty far from all those in-ground minerals up there. Also, I didn't see any seat belts. What do you think would happen if a car that's shaped like a hampster wheel and no saftey restrainst finds a 10 meter stretch of pavement that didn't have underlying "minerals"? I'm thinking "worlds roundest coffin" or "largest runaway tire".
Quite a few years ago I designed the controls system for a maglev train car, which did not require any active elements on the car, other than a large aluminum plate as the base, and motion element of the motor. In theory it could work, but the sad reality is that the power to make it work would be quite heavy, probably far more than the lift that it could provide. And the roadways would have to be fairly good conductors. So any videos of cars floating quietly are actually cartoons. At least until we have a major breakthrough in power generation technology, or superconductivity for AC in strong magnetic fiels.
How I despise these kinds of articles - they are chock full of idiotic eco-speak nonsense. Who picks this crap for and otherwise respectable engineering e-mag?
"Zero Emission" Right - what about the emissions from the massive electrical generating plants required to support millions of levitating cars? what about the emissions created to dig up and retool millions of miles of roadbed? What about the emissions from the traffic jams as this work is being done? What about the emisssion to mine, smelt, refine, process and ship the copper, steel, and aluminum required for this pipe dream?
If anyone will stop snorting their own perfume long enough to use some common sense, they'll quickly see that the existing infrastructure is a huge investment with high value which continues to deliver a great service to a wide variety of existing customers.
Focus our energies on maintaining and improving that infrastructure, rather than trying to obsolete it wholesale for a pipe dream.
Otherwise, if we're talking pipe-dream, then break out the jet packs and flying cars. They make a lot more sense than levitating cars running on millions of miles on nonexsitant roadbeds requiring billions of pounds of nonexistant copper, steel, and aluminum to create...and the engineering problems are actually far less daunting.
Disney had all these ideas decades ago. VW's only advance is a slick video. Nothing new or practical here. Nothing actually a working prototype- rare earth geology complete BS. Good reveiw of current mag lev trains at wikipedia. Get real.
OK, I was born at night but not last night.Very very clever animation I will admit but give me a break.VW has great ads but the hover car, I don't think so.I will admit this—seeing is believing.Show me!! Show me, take me for a ride, let me drive; then I'm a believer.
Am I the only one to recognize the REAL reason for this development. The Communist Chinese obviously know how bad American drivers are and figure this is a better way to conquer. First they buy everything in the U.S. and then kill the population with these things.
What they don't realize is that had they first come out with the HoverCar they could just wait and let our bad drivers wipe out the population and then just walk in and take over when were all dead from auto/hover accidents. Obviously at a much cheaper price than having to build up their Navy/Army/and what-ever-else-they-have militaries.
On the other hand, just think of the road infra-structure costs we could save by just killing half of our drivers on the road now.
As a diehard sci-fi fan since age 11, I watch almost every science fiction movie that comes out. My husband and I used to make a game of pointing out what's created with CGI in a given film, not based on whether the thing itself was improbable (ocean waves, wolves, or aliens), but because the CGI wasn't good enough. But sometime back, it started getting a lot harder (first ocean waves, then animal fur) and recently, in Disney's John Carter, we could not tell at all, except by the unreality of the event or object being portrayed, like this one.
As for ZERO EMMISSIONS, what about all of the ADDED magnetic fields that will be produced? What are the side efects of being constantly surrounded by high power magnetic fields. It doesn't mater what we do, there will always be some form of emmission to deal with.
To call a new technology ECO friendly or ZERO emmission is misleading. EV cars aren't as ECO friendly as people think because of all of the environmental issues that are forgotten about in their production. It's just that these problems are created somewhere else, so people conveniently forget that they even exist.
I agree that Maglev is a neat idea, but not practical. It would take forever to get the planet restructured so that it could be used everywhere. Too bad it wasn't thought of and implemented 150 years ago. It might have had a chance then.
I agree with the people who are upset about Design News posting something like this, whether it's in a blog or not. Design News is a technical magazine, read by professionals. It's not some college student's web site where he wants to impress his friends and have fun. As an engineer, I expect Design News to keep me up to date with new equipment, new technologgy, things that might be useful in my applications at work.
This blog article has really detracted from the credibility and reliability of Design News. As a result, I will not be paying much attention to the stuff that comes across my computer screen from this source. I'll stick to the magazine, where childish foolishness likely will not occur.
If any engineer believed that this concept video was real for more than a milisecond, he doesn't deserve to be an engineer. I'm not even going to start listing the technical problems with this concept. All the explainations in the video are bogus.
I thoroughly enjoyed the video for what it is - a concept, one that's been around for years, one that we as engineers should work towards bringing about but one that practically is many years out.
I remember Moller's skycar designs since from when I was a kid reading Popular Science in the early 1970s. To my knowledge, not one of them ever managed to carry a human being on board.
I've seen many engineers shake their heads in disgust over two decades at the ridiculous claims he made. These things were never able to fly. They preyed upon hapless, ignorant investors with all sorts of idiotic claims for engines that are thermodynamically unlikely.
The noise from the engines was the least of his problems.
Many years ago I designed the controls for a mag-lev hover train that did work. But the power source was on the track side because there was simply no way that thyhe train car could carry enough power to lift itself for any amount of time.
Another thing is certain is that the car is not working with the "minerals in the ground" to produce a useable amount of lift.Just assume 100% efficiency and do the math.
This would be appropriate for an April 1 issue, but not really any other time. Of course it could be sort of entertaining to see just how it was produced. But really, even over an active magnetic track it would not ride that far up. And once again, it simply could not carry enough energy to deliver that kind of power.
Also, at one point we saw the blue glow underneath the vehicle. is this really a car using warp drive? Don't tell us it is magnetic levitation if it was really a warp drive system, using the dilithium crystals.
This time you only missed the April 1 date by a few days. This is a good example of what computer animation and graphics processing can do, but it is far away less believeable than Roadrunner and Coyote.
OK Sylvie-- Fact or fiction? I this some very very cleaver computer-aided video or the real thing? If the real thing, I have to handed it to VW. They have certainly one great imagination. I really like the "crash-avoidance" feature. Very interesting. Great post.
Bobjengr, I don't know how the video was made, but it is a pure hoax while being an entertaining bit of graphics. First of all, the stated principle of levitation is not valid, and secondly, the methods of levitation that could work for an object like that car would be way to heavy and much to large. So what we have is a video less close to reality than that Rocky and Bullwinkle movie.
The proper place for a video like this would be in a science fiction publication, or in a gaming magazine.
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