Take one look at the picture and what do you see? All those suspended cabins – don’t they bring back memories from the ski resort you used to go to or still do? Actually they’re electric vehicles and the only thing they have in common with sky cabins is the look. The rest – it couldn’t be more innovative!
We’re talking about the Jpods concept – its inventor Bill James is the founder of Jpods Inc., a company dedicated to environmentally-friendly transportation. Like so many others, he started from the idea that our sources for classic fuel are drying up and something should be done to replace them. So he started off on a new concept that involves photovoltaic solar panels on 4-meter (13-feet) surfaces correlating with urban vehicles that could gradually spread throughout cities.
These – the Jpods – would be suspended underneath the rail track structure and be powered by 700 watts to 6.5 kilowatts motors, which will allow them to reach 30 mph (48 km/h) with 200 watt-hours of energy per mile. They would have four to six seats and weigh 500 pounds (226 kg) able to transport 1200 pounds (544 kg) in people or goods. In the same fashion of subway trains, the vehicles are centralized by a computer and draw their power through brushes connected to a third rail. The same computerized system processes the information from the wheels and the track to avoid collision and even proximity between vehicles, but also figure out the shortest route for the passenger.
Details still need to be put in place, but basically the user just accesses the system through a touchscreen interface and selects his destination, while the vehicle takes in charge him getting there. Just like a holiday agency, right? This is why the system has been called an “on-demand” one; we would also add “more time, no stress” on the advantages list, because the stress and time involved in traffic jams, parking places and how to get to work before your boss does are gone, completely vanished from the busy minds of urban dwellers. Not to mention the one-fifth amount of energy it takes to work, reducing costs from 56 US cents per mile to just 4 cents in the case of cars…
Let us now look at the other side of the coin! What happens if you don’t live in the vicinity of such wonder-vehicles? Here things become a little complicated, something to do with an off-rail vehicle, with the chassis clinched onto a drivetrain. Of a lesser importance is also the aspect of it all: James was joking at the demonstration that the prototype looked like it was “made in a garage”, but for him, understandably, the feasibility and efficiency of the project outrank the question of aesthetics.
So, to revise the Jpod concept, it’s has got everything a successful project needs, meaning efficiency and simplicity: the vehicles are quick, efficient, time and money saving. What else do you need more? Don’t worry: the aesthetic part can be worked out pretty easily!