Wubbo Ockels is a man of many talents.
Not only is he the first Dutch citizen to travel into space aboard the now-retired space shuttle, Ockels is also the driving force behind a project that hopes to revolutionize public transportation.
Ockels’ team is developing an electric-powered “Superbus,” that they hope may someday replace trains as the preferred method of high-speed travel across continental Europe.
The goal is to provide 23 passengers with luxury accommodations, while the nearly-silent Superbus whisks them from point A to point B at a cruising speed of 155 miles per hour.
Developing the battery, controller and motor technology necessary is only part of the challenge, as the Superbus will also required dedicated roadways to attain its projected cruising speed.
In other words, you won’t be boarding one for a trip from Paris to Amsterdam any time soon.
The lack of infrastructure isn’t delaying progress, as the Superbus team continues to work on perfecting the vehicle’s systems. Testing the antilock braking system had proven to be a challenge, as even wet roads and soap-covered steel plates produced unsatisfactory results.
A recent (and rare) snowstorm in the Netherlands gave the team an ideal opportunity to test the ABS system as well as the Superbus’ low-traction handling.
If this is what the future of public transportation looks like, we can’t wait.