Renovating American Infrastructure Mess #1: Transportation

Defeating soul-deadening gridlock, monster potholes and dangerous road ice

Chicago road crews are scrambling to fill 67,000 potholes a month. Communities in Pennsylvania rely on 100-year-old water pipes made of wood. Squirrels still cause widespread blackouts. The country’s 600,000 bridges, four million miles of roads, and 30,000 wastewater plants desperately need attention. The solution isn’t patches, it’s an overhaul. Soon roads and power lines will fix themselves, and we’ll mine energy from sewage. America’s 21st-century tune-up won’t happen overnight, but we could start reaping the benefits (faster broadband!

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Forget the Flying Car: Here ComesThe Flying Motorcycle

How to build a commercially viable flying car: first, make it a motorcycle. The idea of creating a personal transportation craft that can both take to the skies and travel along the ground has been alive as long as science fiction. But meeting both the FAA's regulations for aircraft while simultaneously meeting the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's guidelines for automobiles means compromises on both sides.

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Inventor of "Green Bricks" Wants To Build Series of Underground Tubes

The retired civil engineer hopes to create a network of pipes to carry cargo

Forget about carrying cargo by truck, and instead imagine shuttling goods around inside a series of underground tubes. That's the hope of Henry Liu, a 73-year-old retired civil engineer and a past winner of PopSci's Inventions Awards for his environmentally safe green bricks.

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Three Extreme High-Speed Rail Concepts for Las Vegas

Las Vegas developers hear proposals for new transportation methods to hook up visitors from LA

Cars to Trains: Who needs roads?  AVT
Slot machine junkies and poker sharks could soon ride one of three futuristic high speed trains from Los Angeles to casino mecca Las Vegas. But that's assuming developers get on board with a tubular rail, a maglev transporter for cars, or an air-cushioned train.

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World's First All-Electric Locomotive Has Over 1,000 Batteries, Runs 24 Hours On a Single Charge

Norfolk Southern is the latest company to push a piece of heavy industrial machinery into green territory with their 100% electric NS 999 locomotive. The zero-emissions train makes use of 1,080 12-volt batteries that allows it to run for 24 hours on a single charge--all while carrying the same load as a conventional locomotive.

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Honda's U3-X Personal Mobility System Is Segway Meets Unicycle

Good news for the elderly, clowns, obese tourists, and the very, very lazy: Honda has released a new, motorized unicycle that functions the same way as a Segway. The super light U3-X personal mobility system is perfect for those who are too lazy for the standing that a Segway requires.

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A Foldable Electric Bicycle for Your Urban Commuting Needs

The YikeBike mini-farthing zips along at 12 mph on a little electric motor

If a Segway and a foldable scooter got together, they might hope to conceive something like the YikeBike mini-farthing. The foldable electric bike resembles a sleek, futuristic upgrade of the old high-riding bicycles, and it can fold up for easy storage under a desk or in a cupboard.

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Teague Unveils a Glowy New Bike Concept: The Pulse

As far as urban bike concepts go, the Pulse from Teague (the designers behind the original Xbox among other things) looks exciting both from a fashion standpoint and a practical one. Sleek, functional and with a frame that glows with an ethereal blue light -- what more could you want?

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Laser-Powered Lightcraft "At the Cusp of Commercial Reality"

The Lightcraft's laser propulsion engine undergoes hypersonic shock tunnel tests in Brazil

Future business travelers may literally ride a laser to work. The U.S. and Brazilian Air Forces are experimenting with Lightcraft technology that could become part of your daily commute, using plain old air to fuel 45-minute transcontinental jaunts.

The design uses a ground-based laser to beam the Lightcraft skyward on a series of blast waves. A parabolic mirror on the back of the craft would capture and focus the pulsing laser beam so that it heats air to 5 times the sun's temperature, creating mini-explosions that propel human passengers or cargo to any point on the planet in under an hour, or into orbit.

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Shweeb Human Monorail System Puts Your Feet in Control

The Shweeb is a human-powered monorail system that makes use of a series of pedal-pods suspended by a metal rail. Easy to operate, Shweeb cars can move up to 25 mph, reportedly without excessive effort.

The Shweeb is still a standalone gimmick/prototype of sorts that sits on company grounds in New Zealand. But they see their contraption as something that would fit perfectly in natural parks for guided tours, or even adventure tourism destinations, where it could be used for racing games.

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Paperclips Dance for Tips on Japanese Subway, Powered By Electromagnetic Fields

A video shot on the floor of a subway car in Kobe, Japan, shows paperclips standing on end whenever the train accelerates or decelerates. The electromagnetism that drives the train's motors leaks through the floor and excites the clips.

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The Flying Car is Doomed, Says The Economist

While we seem to be closer than ever to seeing a flying car in our lifetimes, The Economist seems to believe the flying car will die before it was ever really born, but not necessarily for reasons in the air. They think flying cars will have trouble getting road certified.

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Power From The People

Wind, solar, tidal—all are battling for the renewable-energy crown, but what about the six billion highly efficient short-stroke engines in our midst? What about us?

Cave Junction, Oregon, was once, long ago, the center of a gold rush boom that, like so many booms, ultimately consumed its host. Prospectors mined the land around the towns in an ever-tightening circle, until the only gold left was below the saloons, assayers and burlesque halls. Those fell next. The towns were mined right out from under themselves—with no trace left of the old frontier burgs but scars in the earth.

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An American Autobahn

New research calls into question the popularly accepted link between driving fast and dying young

As the host of one of the oldest and most famous racing events in the world, Indiana has always been known for fast cars. For now, those cars are still stuck on the racetrack, but a new study in the journal Transportation Research Record claims the roads are no more dangerous when motorists drive at Andretti-like speeds, providing further data in support of an American autobahn.

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As Gas Prices Rise, So Does Public Transit Usage

Many systems are near their capacity

Mass transit systems across the country are experiencing surges in ridership, pushing many of them to the brink of capacity for the first time. As the price of oil continues its inexorable climb—now past $125 a barrel—some metropolitan areas have seen an increase in use as large as 15% over this past year. While cities with integral systems, like New York, have reported a small bump, it is municipalities in which car transport has been the norm which are now overflowing with new subway, light rail, and bus riders.

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