VECTORR System Recently Spotlighted on CityMetric and in Rail Professional Magazine by Transit Author Alan Kandel
Just found out today transit author Alan Kandel wrote articles about advanced transportation technologies that included our VECTORR system in the April 19, 2016 issue of CityMetric and the June 2016 issue of Rail Professional (Page 97). We are thankful to Mr. Kandel for writing these articles, and for including our technology in his ebook released in December 2013, "The Departure Track: Railways of Tomorrow". In his writings, Mr. Kandel takes a closer look at more advanced transit modes that could revolutionize travel in the future.
Flight Rail's Engineering Manager, M. Eric Schlienger Ph.D., with intern Luke Robinson installing automated controls on the 1/6 scale pilot model blower/changeover valve system.
Recent advances in the Flight Rail pilot scale model include improved utilization of pumping energy. The initial proof of concept design operated with one side of the thrust carriage subjected to vacuum (or pressure), with the other side open to atmosphere. This represents a condition that will be commonly observed during full sized implementation, but does not take into account optimal energy utilization as the VECTORR unit passes a pumping station. On our test system when the unit (actually the thrust valve) passes the pumping station, the pumping station switches from pulling the unit (vacuum) to pushing the unit (pressure). For our initial trials, at the transition from vacuum to pressure modes of operation, the valve at the open end of the power tube would close, and the valve at the closed end would open. These valve motions support the transition of the operating mode from vacuum to pressure. However, our initial valve timing, (wherein the valve motion occurs as the thrust valve passes the pumping station inlet), does not take into account the loss of energy associated with the opening to atmosphere of the already evacuated portion of the power tube in advance of the thrust carriage. A new sensor suite, developed using Arduino boards by our summer intern Luke Robinson, has been added to provide accurate thrust carriage position sensing and precise pressure monitoring of the power tube. With the new position sensors in place, we are able to accurately gauge the timing of the transitions between vacuum and pressure at each of our inlet ports. The addition of the precision differential pressure sensors provide the ability to delay the opening of the power tube to atmosphere until the usable accumulated vacuum energy in front of the thrust carriage has been expended in the production of additional thrust. As a side benefit, the position sensors also provide velocity data. The combination of these sensors results in a smoother modal transition, a more uniform thrust profile and better energy utilization. We see this as a very positive development in the demonstration of the real world application of this technology.
Luke graduated from Ukiah High School last Spring and will be starting at Johns Hopkins University in the fall. His expertise is in electronics. As a freshman there he will be studying computer engineering. For three summers as a high school student, he has offered a camp for middle-school students on basic robotics using the Arduino development platform. These programmable processors, and the sensors and other hardware that interface with them, enable automation and control of a multitude of operations. His expertise with these devices is being applied to an upgrade of our 1/6 scale pilot model controls. We are increasing the automation of the valving on our power system to take advantage of the vacuum or pressure remaining in the power tube as the thrust carriage passes by the blower stations. Sensors along the power tube will report position and velocity of the thrust carriage, as well as residual vacuum in the tube to a programmable controller which will actuate individual valves to optimize efficiency. Luke brings a fresh perspective and a keen intellect to our team, if only for the summer. In addition to his work on the train controls, he has also been helping with the design, construction, and installation of an improved control and monitoring system for our small private water district. It is a pleasure for all of us here at Flight Rail to work with Luke. We will certainly miss him when he leaves this fall!
We are pleased once again to be featured on the front page of the Ukiah Daily Journal. Our local paper spotlighted Flight Rail in the Local Entrepreneurs section. The writer, Sarah Reith and photographer Chris Pugh did a great job! We appreciate the Ukiah Daily Journal's continued support of Flight Rail and our VECTORR technology.
We appreciate our local public radio station KZYX for hosting us on their Renewable Energy Hour this morning with Doug Livingston and Jeff Oldham. Doug and Jeff and callers into the station asked our Pilot Program Manager, John Reardan, great questions that facilitated discussion of our system's present and projected full-scale capablities.
Flight Rail Corp. presented the VECTORR technology at a Federal Highway Administration Exploratory Advanced Research workshop in San Francisco. The goal of the workshop was to promote information exchange and discuss factors that may help bring novel surface transportation modes for highway corridors to greater maturity. Those in attendance included U.S. Department of Transportation staff, academics, private sector representatives, and local and state government officials. This was a great opportunity for VECTORR to show how easily our technology can be built within or adjacent to highway right of ways.
Flight Rail was invited to brief the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the VECTORR technology. Our local Congressman, Jared Huffman, and Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster, facilitated our staff to meet with the Railroad Subcommittee. It was a very productive meeting. The Railroad Subcommittee staff were interested in learning more about Flight Rail, the VECTORR technology, and what obstacles may exist in developing the technology. We are honored to have participated in this briefing!