This maglev quadcopter hints at transportation's future

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Hasn’t maglev been the future for like… fifty years? I remember hearing about it as a kid.


But this isn’t your grandad’s Maglev! THIS IS QUADCOPTER MAGLEV!


So the eddy currents create drag. Is there more or less drag than steel wheels on steel rail? The amount of heat generated and the size of the motors used make me suspect that this has MORE drag than conventional railroads.


Not really. What happened was that during the NASA years and the jet age advances, people thought they would be the Jetsons soon.

What they didn’t realize was that that needed the computer revolution in order to control the physics they were learning to harness during that time.

So everyone got tempted by the allure and when it didn’t arrive on time we got all pessimistic. Interestingly, now that sensors and ubiquitous computing were created for other reasons, people are waking up from their self induced comas and realizing that now we actually can do those things because we have enough narrow AI to keep those things behaving properly.

Just takes money and willpower now.


I don’t really see how you could scale this up to something with speeds like a maglev train. Like @simonize said, the spinning rotors are creating drag, not only in the rotational vector but any movement vector. Obviously at slow speeds that is minimal energy loss compared to the rotation, but a several hundred mph it would be much more noticeable. The other major issue I see is the high speed flux changes are going to eventually weaken your permanent magnets.

Realistically both issues could be minimized with high temperature super conductors…but like @Boundegar eluded to, I’ve been hearing about that for +30 years.


I wonder how much power is required to run this demo. And, as you say, how it would scale up to real world transport, 24/7/365.

Using renewables only of course.


Yeah, maglevs were just around the corner when I was a kid too. They even talked about induced magnetic fields being used to levitate the train repulsively vs. having magnets pulling on the underside of a steel rail. I’m glad the video explained how this effect works.

Obviously, for a maglev, you don’t need spinning magnets, just ones moving in a straight line, though I’m not sure where the propulsive force would be coming from.

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All of the above are correct, these “amazing developments” are just annoying!
Until we have unlimited conductive resources, (e.g. capturing solid copper asteroids), and we have unlimited energy, (e.g. micro-sized pebble reactors) the simple physics behind this make it a non-starter, and always has!


Whenever the encyclopedias I inherited as a kid were written, they thought cars of the future would run on tracks and automatically alleviate traffic. Now we’re on the cusp of realizing that vision in a different way than they envisioned but I think our culture has the same tunnel vision it did sixty years ago.

Most folks are still thinking about cars. What we should have been thinking about sixty years ago is still what we need today. Viable, affordable, widespread, ecologically sound mass transit and an end to the obsession with privately owned and operated cars.

If obsessing about maglev could get us to the mass transit equivalent of where we are today with self driving cars, I’d be the biggest fan ever.

I’m still a pretty big fan though.


Why do you hate America.

Originally I was going to say ‘freedom’ but then I realized most Americans don’t know of the freedom of an efficient mass transit system. Also, private ownership is conflated with personal freedom in America because socialism bad.


I don’t hate America. I was just born without the gland for patriotism. Try it. Put me in a legit utopia. “Very adequate, thanks. Is that a flag? I, uh, need to go do some laundry.” :sweat_smile:


Yeah, so I just have to hire someone to carry around a big-ass copper plate everywhere I wanna go.

Working hoverboard will involve some kind of magnetic monopole dispenser in a ribbon around the circumference of the thing, laying out track infront of the leading edge. And because I can synthesise magnetic monopoles on a whim, they would also evaporate right after being driven over. :stuck_out_tongue:

Unless you can bring the transit line to within walking distance of my front door, I still have to own a car. And unless the transit system is available to take me where I want to go, when I want to go, without unreasonable wait time, I still have to drive a car.

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“You don’t build for the 2%.”

I don’t know if you’re just being contrary or if you have serious reasons public transit could never ever work for you. Ninety percent of us could live without cars if viable public transit was in place. A good percentage of people who are functionally locked out of society by the expense of owning a car or other hardships would be able to access culture, economy, and jobs they’re not able to access now.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the positive ecological impact of taking millions of cars off the road and no longer producing thousands of replacements for them every year.

Maybe we’ll never get 100% off the road but 90% could be the turning point we need to save humanity.

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