“Mr. James’s idea of having a quick-to-erect a temporary overhead transportation system for disaster areas has merit, but I am not sure I would hire him to implement it.” Henry Nejako, US DOT responding email to Marcel Belanger, March 14, 2011.
The email exchange at DOT is about JPods, a physical version of the Internet where you get in a vehicle, look-up the web site, and are chauffeured you there (US Patent 6,810,187). Ultra-light, computer controlled robot pods move people, cargo and trash suspended from overhead rails using about 1/10th the energy of cars, buses and passenger trains. JPods networks are so efficient that solar collectors mounted over the rails gather 5,000 to 40,000 vehicle-miles of power per mile of rail per day.
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Government central planners strive for consistence. Innovation is a consistence aberration, disruptive, to be studied, researched, stored in universities. Example, the fundamental technologies of the Internet and cell nets existed since before 1970 but could not commercially scale until after central planning was replaced with free markets in 1984.
As disclosure, the author is the founder of JPods. I believe that like railroads in the 1860's JPods and our competitors will be the best investment as we displace 70% of oil-powered urban transportation. JPods intends to accomplish what Thomas Edison noted as practical in 1910 (full quote):
Like the Internet, networks will start small and grow based on the value and profits. Commercial freight rail networks are 97 times more efficient, averaging over 423 ton-miles per gallon; JPods average about 264 passenger-miles per gallon, without the gallon. Next time you put $40 of gas in your car, consider that a freight train could have moved your mass the same distance for $1.12 and JPods could have chauffeured in a city for $5.23."Sunshine is spread out thin and so is electricity. Perhaps they are the same, Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy.”
“Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property.”
“There must surely come a time when heat and power will be stored in unlimited quantities in every community, all gathered by natural forces. Electricity ought to be as cheap as oxygen...."
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I have engaged many American political staffs. This letter from then Congressional Transportation Chairman Oberstar indicates tepidness and delay of Senate and Congressional staffs, governors, mayors, council persons, legislators, generals.
As a young Infantryman I swore an oath to defend the ‘Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’. Eight Presidents declared imported oil a threat to national security, an enemy of the Constitution. Every month government highways mandate 9/11 scale carnage. Morgantown’s PRT has proven we can have injury-free urban mobility. We can power urban mobility within a solar budget, be self-reliant, provide safe mobility. A decade of failing to get permission does not diminish that the task is worth.
With few government fans in the US, JPods does have government fans, in China. The City of Kunming has signed an agreement to deploy JPods. July 21-26th a delegation from Zhenjiang, China toured the US to see the JPods demo unit in Boston and to ride the PRT network in Morgantown, WV.
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JPods’ competitors are also finding friendly environments. Ultra, To Get There, Vectus are building at Heathrow Airport in London, Masdar, Uppsala and Korea.
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Study PB-244854 identified Personal Rapid Transit as the solution to making US cities independent of imported oil when published in 1975. It warned :
DOT “neglected near-term ... simpler approaches to correct transit problems”
“Finally, institutional failures may have hindered implementation.”
It seems the world will soon have mobility as safe as Morgantown’s powered by sunshine. At the current rate, the innovation to create that mobility will come from America and the jobs to build it from China.
The hard truth about central planners, politicians would rather drive jobs out of America that reliquish control of the means of production. Politicians accept deaths on highways, debt to buy oil, oil’s Potato Famine potential and climate change from oil rather than allow free markets.