This futuristic public transportation concept, by Dahir Insaat, relies on the principle of ground effect. Wikipedia explains ground effect as follows:
Ground effect (aerodynamics)
Ground effect is the increased lift (force) and decreased aerodynamic drag that an aircraft’s wings generate when they are close to a fixed surface. When landing, ground effect can give the pilot the feeling that the aircraft is “floating”. When taking off, ground effect may temporarily reduce the stall speed. The pilot can then fly just above the runway while the aircraft accelerates in ground effect until a safe climb speed is reached.
When an aircraft flies at a ground level approximately at or below the length of the aircraft’s wingspan or helicopter’s rotor diameter, there occurs, depending on airfoil and aircraft design, an often noticeable ground effect.
The company outlines the following three benefits of such a concept:
Powered by electricity
An electric line that runs below the aircraft powers it – much like an overhead line or overhead wire is used to transmit electrical energy to trams, trolleybuses or trains. This avoids the need for having fuel, cooling equipment, batteries, gearboxes, transmission shafts, drive boxes, clutches etc. on the aircraft. Freed from all this, the aircraft becomes much lighter. It has nothing but electric drives and a drive control system, which the company suggests is extremely simple and can be very reliable.
Weight to power ratio
The concept mentions that modern electric motors can help achieve a unique weight to power ratio of 5 kW per 1 kg of weight, while most modern helicopters hardly get 1 kW per 1 kg of the motor. Such high acceleration drives provide excellent maneuverability.
Flying close to ground level
Being at an altitude of 4-6 meters from the ground, the aircraft can make use of the ground effect principle. This results in less drag and more energy efficiency. The concept cites the example of a toy quadcopter, losing its charging at a high altitude, and falling down. Then near to the ground, it seems to come to life. Flying low, ground effect allows it to hang for a bit longer in the air. They also go on to elucidate the safety benefit of flying low at about 6 meters – they say, at that level, it is highly unlikely for any malfunction to lead to a fatal catastrophe.
The concept shows that the aircraft has 4 supporting retractable legs when it stops at a station. For an emergency landing, it uses super capacitors, providing several minutes of energy to help make it happen. [Dahir Insaat]
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