China has been struggling to tackle its notorious traffic problems for years now, with one of its recent, more outlandish solutions being a "hover bus" that straddles the road and glides above traffic while other vehicles pass beneath undisrupted. The so-called Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) was shown off in model form in May at Beijing's International High-Tech Expo, but now China has built a full-scale, working model, and has begun test runs in the northeastern city of Qinhuangdao.
The TEB-1 isn't quite street-ready, so for now it's being confined to a 300m test-track, reports Shanghaiist. The 7.7-metre wide test carriage can carry 300 passengers, although these will be linked up in real-world deployments to ferry around up to 1,200 people at once. Prospective passengers can now get a glimpse of what it will be like to ride inside the futuristic electric bus-tram.
On the open roads, the TEB will top out at about 40mph while cruising about five metres above the road. Its engineers claim the system is considerably cheaper than building new subways – less than one-fifth the cost, in fact – and can also be built far quicker due to the fact it will run over the top of existing infrastructure.
While the TEB should have no problem gliding over cars and vans, exactly what will happen when faced with a larger truck or lorry remains unclear. Presumably there will be dedicated lanes for cars and TEBs and separate ones for larger vehicles.
Xinhua News Agency reports that the TEB has already attracted interest from Brazil, France, India and Indonesia. Meanwhile in Europe, Norway is considering a proposal to construct "floating" underwater tunnels that will allow vehicles to cut through its many waterways.