Home | Deutsch


The description comprises the  1. Present Situation,   2. Conception of  Autoshuttle,   3. Environmental Friendliness,   4. Traffic Capacity and Space Consumption,   5. Acceptance,   6. Economical Study for a Sample Line,   7. Summary. The description is supplemented by annexes which contain the respective tables, calculations and results.

1 The Present Situation

The most serious traffic problem world-wide is the abundant road traffic in highly populated areas and in highly sensitive corridors such as transit through mountain ridges. All recent traffic prognostics show that the major part of the traffic volume will remain on the roads in the future. The developing countries will show tremendously increasing values. Reasons for this are the high flexibility, commodity and individuality at acceptable cost of road transportation.

Figure 1: Traffic volume percentage of road traffic in Germany in 2010
Passenger traffic: red Mill.Passenger-km Goods traffic: green Mill.ton-km.
Traffic volume percentage of road traffic in 2010: Passengers: 89%, Freight: 62%.
Sources: StBA, BAG/KBA, DB/DR, DIW, Stat. Amt DDR, ifo

The road user experiences this problem mainly in the form of traffic jams and increased accident risks. Roadside residents and further environment suffer from the space consumption, the cutting effect, noise, energy consumption, emissions and the accident risks.

New technologies like alternative motor concepts for road vehicle and telematics are very useful, but in many points an important attenuation of the traffic problem can't be expected as long as the basic principle of individually moving road vehicles is kept. E. g. the traffic volume capacity of many arteries is reached with conventional traffic control, so that in these cases a telemetry traffic control system will lead to a modest decrease in specific space consumption only. Further on, consumer's behaviour still shows that safety, power and comfort are preferable features and not extremely low fuel consumption.

Therefore, alternatives leaving the basic principle of individually moving road vehicles during the move on the main arteries have been proposed. Car and lorry transporting railway trains theoretically allow for a low specific space consumption if the line is well used. With the operating schemes realised so far, the time and cost consuming loading and unloading of the trains and the low station density or alternatively low averaged speed just lead to a low traffic volume in urbanised areas. Especially in urbanised areas many stations are necessary, if a major part of the road traffic should be taken over. Additionally, the energy saving effect of a train is quickly absorbed if patronage is poor or if the travelling speed is considerably above the usual speed in road traffic.

A completely different solution is the convoy-concept developed by Volkswagen during the 1980s for densely used motorways . The driver enters the slow motorway lane and transmits control of the car to a computer by pushing a button. The car is steered to the overtaking-lane and will be caught up by a convoy, so that the car forms the new front end of the convoy. The cars follow each other in a distance of 2 meters sensor controlled. During the trip further cars will join to the front end. Pushing another button makes the car leave the convoy towards the slow lane. The driver resumes control of the vehicle. Remaining gaps in the convoy will be closed automatically by following cars. Traffic volume capacity is increased. Air resistance in the convoy is diminished by 35 % at 130 km/h (81 mph). Unfortunately, safety problems remain unsolved for this convoy concept. E. g. if a vehicle in the front section of the convoy experiences a tyre puncture and looses control, the following vehicle will possibly be affected. The concept is no more developed. DaimlerChrysler AG develops a similar concept for lorries. The energy saving effect is even lower however due to the prominent friction part of the total resistance of a lorry.

2 Conception of Autoshuttle
2.1 MAGLEV-Vehicles

Figure 2: MAGLEV-vehicles in a train

The safety problems of the convoys formed by self-driving road vehicles are avoided if the road vehicles are transported by magnetically levitated (MAGLEV) track guided cabins. Passengers may stay seated in their vehicles. The MAGLEV-vehicles are very simple. The plastic car body and the front upside hinged exit door are transparent. The rear two laterally hinged doors and the fuselage are opaque. Solar cells may be added to the roof. The front is streamlined. 

The rear part of the cabin extends over the rear doors at the circumference and is flexible at the tips. During the trip in a train the following cabin closes up directly to the end of the preceding cabin. Since the end part is congruent to the front end of the following cabin, the flexible tips of the front cabin touch the following cabin so that a streamlined, almost even transition between the cabins with constant cross-section is achieved between the cabins.


Figure 3a: Bird's eye view of a MAGLEV-vehicle

 The cabin sidings are pivotable and then form lateral corridors with auxiliary doors, so that the passengers may leave the road vehicle or the cabin in extraordinary conditions. Further on, remote controlled ventilation windows are provided. 

There are cabins with a small cross-section for cars - 2,20 m internal width and 1,70 m internal height - and cabins with a large cross-section for lorries and buses - 3,30 m internal width and 4,30 m internal height. Both types are provided in different lengths - from 3,60 m to 5,60 m internal length for cars, and from 6 m to 19 m internal length for lorries and buses. All types ride on the same track and form trains with vehicles of an identical cross- section. The usual operating speed is 180 km/h (112 mph) for all trains. The uniform speed yields an optimised line capacity.

Figure 3b: Cross-sectino of a MAGLEV-vehicle

Inside the cabin is a flat communication module movably mounted at the driver's side. The module moves towards the opened driver's window as soon as the driver moves something outside the window. At the communication module the driver enters the desired exit station by voice recognition or keyboard and pays by a credit card. 

The type of the road vehicle is determined at the entrance station by a number plate identification system and an extract of the centralised road vehicle's registers databases. Fare is calculated with a table set up for each vehicle type including motor version and the corresponding operational cost. Fare is slightly lower than the fuel cost and if applicable additonally the heavy load tax. The fare of a small car is down to 0.04 EUR per kilometre. The road vehicle's dimensions are determined by light beam detectors, so that a suitable cabin is ordered.

Furthermore, a fast exit button for exiting at the next station, an emergency call phone, a 12 V-supply for the road vehicle's equipment like heating and ventilation and a cabin ventilation and window remote control are provided. Alternatively to the 12 V-supply the road vehicle may idly run the engine for operating the heating or other on-board equipment.

2.2 Stations

Figure 4: principal sketch of a station

Figure 4 shows a station from above. Stations are located as densely as motorway exits along the line, i. e. each 5 km (3 m).

Via a non-moving point an exiting cabin leaves the train. (operation of the non-moving point will be described below) On an approximately 1 km (0,6 m) long braking track the vehicle brakes, turns to the right on another point and stops in an exiting bay where the road vehicle leaves the cabin through the front door. Thereafter the cabin moves backwards towards an entering bay where another road vehicle enters. 

As soon as the train has reached a reference position on the main track, the freshly loaded cabin accelerates, switches on to the main track via a non-moving point and is swiftly caught up by the train on reaching the operating speed. Those who don't want to exit will pass the station at full speed. Averaged speed therefore is close to 180 km/h (112 mph). 

The car trains follow each other in a 2 minutes sequence, lorry and bus trains in a 6 minutes sequence. Frequency is diminished during night-time. Coupling of the vehicle principally is not necessary, however simple engaging couplers which uncouple on lateral motion are provided. The train needs not to be extended when a cabin leaves the train at the non-moving point.

2.3 Supporting and Guidance System and non-moving Point

The figure shows the experimentally realised magnetic levitation and guidance system from the front end with two rails in the form of an upside-down L at each side of the cabin.

Figure 5: Front view of the magnetic levitation and guidance system

The levitation bogies of the cabins enter between the two rails at each side and engage from beneath the rails. Magnetic circuits are formed through the controlled hybrid permanent and electromagnets with minimised energy consumption and the rails.(See Annex A1 for details of the levitation, guidance and motor system).

The configuration of the levitation system enables the levitation function even when one rail per side is omitted. This is the case at some parts of the non-moving point (see figure 6. For the dimensions of the non-moving point see Annex A2). Additionally, lateral movement control magnets are provided, which are short-term activated when entering a non-moving point. Time-dependent decrease of the rail's reactive surface is attenuated by early beginning of the surface reduction before and after the intersection parts of the point. Requirements for the air gap control therefore are diminished.


Figure 6: Non-moving point and levitation and guidance system

 For example cabins turning to the left activate the control of the additional lateral movement control magnets. The cabin travels contact-free by its on-board magnet along the right-hand branch of the non-moving point.

As an additional mechanical safety device vertical guidance sheets are mounted at the point in the centre of either the straight and deviating branch. Centred under the cabin at the front end a guidance pin, which is laterally moveable by 10 cm. The cabin approaching the point in diverting direction fixes the intended direction before the braking distance before the point is reached by activating the additional lateral motion magnet as described above and by additionally moving the guidance pin in the desired direction. The pin is latched at the end position. Emergency brake is applied on failure. The guidance pin travels contact-free laterally along the guidance sheets. Erroneous guidance is not possible even on magnet failure by this engaging mechanical safety device. Safety standard of this non-moving point therefore is at least as high as with conventional points.

2.4 Motor

AUTOSHUTTLE has a long-stator-linear-synchronous-drive with iron-free stator. In track sections, where cabins have to move with low distance from each other at different speed, motor sections reach short lengths down to 2,70 m. Each of the short motor sections is fed by an alternator, disposing a pole position sensor and stator current control. The motor has a simple configuration and reaches high efficiencies due to the low power demand of the trains at constant speed and due to the short motor sections during the accelerated motion.

2.5 Control and Safety System

A control centre surveys control of the operations. Communication between the cabins and the control centre takes place by radio or high frequency leaking cable in the track bed. The control centre receives the following information from the cabins:

The cabins receive the following information from the control centre: The control centre controls operation by processing the information received by the vehicles in corresponding direction commands for the cabins. The track bears Hall-sensors detecting the presence of cabins. If the sensors detect that a vehicle remains behind its intended position, all following cabins, which could come into a conflicting position with this cabin will be braked after a tolerance interval. The control centre calculates track occupancy after the passage of a non-moving point according to the direction indication to the cabins issued earlier. Indications of desired exit stations are used for the co-ordination of the necessary empty runs for dispatching the necessary number of cabins at each station. Additionally, a daytime and calendar-dependent forecast program is used for this purpose. In order to save energy, empty runs start only together with loaded runs whenever possible.
3 Environmental-Friendliness

3.1 Energy Consumption

Energy consumption of AUTOSHUTTLE is composed by:
1. The cabin's consumption due to:

2. The infrastructure's consumption.

A typical realistic trip with the following parameters will be examined :

This yields a primary energy consumption of 24 kWh per averaged car and 100 km. This corresponds to the comparison value 2.3 l diesel fuel at the gas station per 100 km (102 mpg). Compact cars up to 3.4 m length need 2 l diesel fuel per 100 km (117 mpg). Analogous considerations yield for example for an 18 m long lorry a value of 13 l diesel fuel per 100 km (18 mpg). Assuming that electrical energy is furnished by coal-, gas- or oil power plants and long distance heat supply is realised, the primary energy consumption is further reduced by 40%.
3.2 Resources Consumption

In Annex A5 the resources consumption considering the building and operation of AUTOSHUTTLE is calculated and compared to ordinary road traffic. Concluding, AUTOSHUTTLE has a significantly lower resources consumption.

3.3 Emissions

From the energy consumption the following emission result for passenger transportation. The results are compared to ordinary car traffic and the German Railways ICE high-speed train :

  l/100Pkm CO2 CO HC NOX SO2
Passenger Car 7,1 17100 670 98 147 8,5
ICE 2,5 6050 1,55 0,28 7,1 8,9
AUTOSHUTTLE Car 2 4727 1,21 0,22 5,55 6,9
AUTOSHUTTLE Bus 0,6 1418 0,36 0,066 1,67 2,1

Patronage is 1,4 passengers per car for the car and AUTOSHUTTLE in a private car. AUTOSHUTTLE bus occupancy is 40%. For the ICE data from German Railways (Calculations according to E. Jänsch, eb 93 (1995) 1/2, 25) were used. Unit for emissions is g/100 Passenger-km. It is assumed that no radioactive emissions occur, since the emission values of AUTOSHUTTLE and ICE were augmented assuming that no energy was produced by nuclear power plants. Concluding, AUTOSHUTTLE's emission are much lower than those for car and high speed train ICE.

3.4 Noise

Related to the measurements of the TR 07 MAGLEV-vehicle a noise emission of a train at 180 km/h (112 mph) of 74 dB in 25 m distance can be expected. With usual train frequencies of 80/h and 4 s passing times, this is a very low value, making noise reduction measures generally obsolete. AUTOSHUTTLE may therefore easily be built through populated quarters without causing unacceptable noise annoyance.

4 Traffic Capacity and Space Consumption

In case of maximum exploitation the main line is fully engaged by trains except the gaps for new starting cabins and tolerance intervals. Passenger car trains follow every 2 minutes and lorry and bus trains every 6 minutes. The result is a traffic capacity of 15.000 transported road vehicles per hour and direction or 30.000 road vehicles per hour on a double lane (see Annex A6). This corresponds to about three six-lane motorways. Overall space consumption, i. e. for track, stations and storage yards then is 3,6 times lower. (see Annex A7) Even if only the traffic of a well exploited six-lane motorway has to be taken over, specific space consumption is half of the motorway's. AUTOSHUTTLE main and braking tracks could be built at the centre of an existing motorway. The stations could be build between the motorway and ramps. They are connected to the main tracks via short ramps and bridges, on which the braking or accelerating cabins travel at low speed. In this way, there is almost no new space required. The remaining conventional motorway lanes would be sufficient for the remaining conventional traffic. Assuming a starting scenario of a six-lane motorway, which due to overcharging has to be extended to eight lanes, it becomes evident that with less space consumption AUTOSHUTTLE could be built instead of the enlargement. The remaining motorway would then be reduced to four lanes due to the lower exploitation. The combined structure would have a far higher traffic capacity than the eight-lane motorway.

5 Acceptance

Acceptance has roughly been estimated by an almost representative survey among 300 people (see Annex A8). Part of the survey was conducted among public in the pedestrial zone of Cologne. The question asked was: "Would you use AUTOSHUTTLE instead of the ordinary motorway ?" Important parameters are:

95 % of the enquired people answered "yes". Interesting aspects of sensitivity are:

The part of the survey conducted in public in the center of Cologne yielded 92% acceptance and therefore no significant difference to the other part of the survey

6 Economical Study for a Sample Line

An economical study has been conducted for the sample line Breitscheider Kreuz (Germany, between Duisburg and Düsseldorf)-Cologne-Cologne Airport. Length is 56 km (35 m). (see Annex A10) Target figure of the calculation is:

What is the minimum percentage of road vehicles switching from the parallel motorway over to AUTOSHUTTLE in order to make possible a subsidiary-free profit for the building and operating company ?

According to the lowest prediction an averaged 150.000 road vehicles will travel on this motorway per day in the year 2018, the assumed inauguration date of AUTOSHUTTLE. Averaged fare for cars, lorries and buses is 5% lower than the fuel cost and if applicable the heavy load tax of driving on the ordinary motorway and results as 0.10 EUR/km for cars and 0.44 EUR/km for lorries and buses at 2018 price level. Expenses for the construction of the line are estimated referring to the financial concept of Thyssen, Siemens and AEG company for the Transrapid-line Hamburg-Berlin and cost tables for railway construction of Deutsche Bahn AG. AUTOSHUTTLE is financed entirely private and not subsidised. Summarised results are:

Balance in the first operational year
Credit cost with a period of 25 years:
135 Mio. EUR
Operational-, deduction- and further costs:
54 Mio. EUR
189 Mio. EUR
Revenues of the same level result, if 56,000 road vehicles travel the AUTOSHUTTLE line daily
189 Mio. EUR

This figure represents a changeover rate from the motorway to AUTOSHUTTLE of 33% of the mileage or 27% of the journey, since average journey
length is longer on Autoshuttle than on the conventional motorway. Considering the promising result of the preliminary survey, this changeover rate will probably be exceeded. Cost coverage ratio rises in the following operational years and reaches 263% in the 26th year of service. This extremely good economical result not only renders AUTOSHUTTLE independent of subsidises but makes it one of the most profit-prone large industries world-wide. AUTOSHUTTLE can be operated on less frequented itineraries as well.

7 Summary

The proposed new transportation concept AUTOSHUTTLE is capable to mitigate the problems of abundant road traffic in congested areas and highly sensitive corridor like passes over mountain ridges. AUTOSHUTTLE is

Direct comparison to telematic-systems used with self-driving cars yields: Technical realisation is a relatively modest extension of the existing MAGLEV-technology. The levitation and guidance system has been realised in an experimental set-up at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, the motor has been thoroughly investigated theoretically. Reliability of AUTOSHUTTLE is excellent. Frequency of service interruptions due to the critical functions "cabin levitation" and "motor" have been estimated in Annex A12. Annex A13 shows the development risks. New features for a track guided transportation system are: The AUTOSHUTTLE-Development Plan in Annex A14 presents the work and schedule for the realisation of AUTOSHUTTLE.

Annex A15 shows a table comparing features of several realised or proposed transportation concepts.