China tests floating car using magnets hovering at 143 mph

If you’ve ever fantasized about a future filled with flying cars, your dream might be getting a little closer to reality.

Chinese researchers at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan province, carried out road tests last week on modified passenger cars that use magnets to deflect suspended on a 35 mm guide rail, according to China’s state news agency. Xinhua News Agency.

The researchers fitted the sedans with powerful magnets on the floorboards, allowing them to levitate over a guide rail nearly five miles long. According to the report, a total of eight cars were tested, with one of which clocked at around 143 miles per hour.

A video posted to Twitter by a Chinese journalist shows vehicles floating – albeit bumpy – along the tracks:

Xinhua said the tests were conducted by government transport agencies to study safety measures for high-speed driving. But Deng Zigang, one of the university professors who developed the vehicle, told the state news agency that using magnetic levitation for passenger vehicles has the potential to reduce energy use and increase range. vehicle operation.

That could be useful for the electric vehicle industry’s problems with “range of anxiety“or when consumers fear they won’t be able to complete a trip in an electric vehicle without running out of power.

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Some commercial trains already use magnetic levitation, or “maglev” – which involves generating an electromagnetic field to propel or pull vehicles at high speeds – since the 1980s. Today, China, Japan, and South Korea all use electromagnetic trains. Last year, China launched maglev high-speed train in Qingdao, Shandong province, last year can reach top speed 373 miles per hour.

Theoretically, maglev technology allows traveling at high speeds without using as much energy as traditional engine power due to the absence of friction. Technology has been proposed for hyperloop project from Elon Musk’s The Boring Company and Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One. Researchers have been exploring the potential of maglev cars for more than a decadewith Volkswagen designing a concept car hover in 2012.

But potential safety issues still need to be addressed. For example, what if a car traveling at high speed slips out of a magnetic track or is thrown off the track by a non-magnetic vehicle? There is also a very difficult problem of infrastructure: Building a nationwide network of electromagnetic highways is likely to take years and large public investments in any given country, notes on AutomoBlog.

Challenges that may be worth overcoming: The ‘magnetic age’ could revolutionize the energy industry and help fight climate change, according to a 2018 LinkedIn Posts by George Sassine, vice president at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“While it may sound like science fiction, it could very well be our daily lives in 50 years time,” he wrote.

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