Friday, February 15, 2008

Back to the future

Is every innovation born of a dream? Does each increment of progress occur as the realization of one man's fantasy? Certainly Monsieur Eiffel believed in his tower before building it. But was there a single voice which, with the Airbus 380 in mind, cried "Let it be a double-decker"? I thought of this when the new AGV train was introduced last week. But a few days later I found the video below, and learned of a venture which was certainly the work of a passionate, but ultimately disappointed, reveur.

The Aérotrain was a hovercraft train developed in France from 1965 to 1977. The lead engineer was Jean Bertin.

The goal of the Aérotrain was similar to that of the magnetic levitation train: to suspend the train above the tracks so the only resistance is that of air resistance . Consequently the Aérotrain could travel at very high speeds with reasonable energy consumption and noise levels, but without the technical complexity and expensive tracks of magnetic levitation.

This project was abandoned in 1977 due to lack of funding, the death of Jean Bertin, and the adoption of TGV by the French government as its high-speed ground transport solution.

In 2002, Vincent Lamouroux built this Pentacycle to travel along the abandoned hovercraft monorailway built in the 1970s.

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