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Fall 2001

Student PERTS MagLev Technology Moving Toward Commercialization

PERTS friction-free linear propulsion prototype.
After developing a unique electric propulsion system using a switched-reluctance actuator in 1998, then successfully testing levitation, propulsion, and guidance systems for a switched-reluctance maglev design in succeeding years, students on Virginia Tech's PERTS Virtual Corporation team are continuing to work on prototypes designed by graduate students with an eye toward commercialization of the technology.

The team's ultimate goal is to develop a commercial dual-mode personal rapid transit system in which a vehicle can be driven autonomously for short distances and easily hook up to a rapid transit maglev system for long distances.

Currently, PERTS teams are planning a wireless graphical interface, communication infrastructure, vehicle securing in the pallet, safety systems and exits and interchanges.

The Virtual Corporation is working with Tech's new Center for Rapid Transit Systems (CRTS), which was established to advance the development and commercialization of a family of electromagnetically controlled linear propulsion system applications based on PERTS technology. The center is directed by Krishnan Ramu, who has served as the Virtual Corporation program director since its inception in 1997.

The most recent PERTS data suggest that a single-track system would be able to carry as much traffic as three to four conventional highway lanes at one-tenth the cost, Ramu said. The CRTS will also work to develop other potential electromagnetically-controlled linear propulsion technology applications, including high-rise-building cableless elevators, conveyors, airport people movers, heavy lift cargo and logistics management systems.

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