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High Speed Travelator 333

Anonymous Award writes "Remember those old Isaac Asimov tales of cities of the future, where everybody walked along on moving sidewalks, sometimes clear across a country? Today's airport travelators have always been disappointingly pale imitations of these, but now in Paris we may be seeing the true birth of this wonderfully dangerous mode of mass transportation. Its already as fast as a bus, but when they can crank them up to motorway speeds... well, lets just say this may have a better chance of having cities designed around it than certain other recent innovations."
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High Speed Travelator

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  • by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <> on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:11AM (#6366588)
    by Heinlein was one of the first ScFi stories I ever read!

    Glad to see it coming to fruition!

  • by FTL ( 112112 ) <slashdot.neil@fraser@name> on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:26AM (#6366673) Homepage
    I was at Toronto International airport last year and saw an Ethiopian woman and young child at the top of an escalator. They were clearly having problems. I took the hand of the child and helped her take "the big step". Presumably her first. She had no problems. Then I realised that I was helping the wrong person. The mother was now stranded at the top wondering what to do.

    Teavelators, escalators, revolving doors, they seem natural and intuitive to those who are used to them.

  • Not that hot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onthefenceman ( 640213 ) < minus physicist> on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:28AM (#6366683)
    When I first read "already as fast as a bus" I envisioned this thing cranking along at 30mph, people hanging on for dear life with the wind blowing their hair back. 9 km/h is a decent jogging pace, so maybe they are referring to the average speed of a bus in Paris. I am unimpressed.

    Besides, in the first month they are going to have at least one old lady fall on the exit rollers with her gigantic suitcase and 40 other people will be force-fed into the melee to create a giant writhing heap.

    All it will take is one idiot and his lawyer to mess it up for everyone else.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by visgoth ( 613861 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:29AM (#6366688)
    IANAP (I am not a physicist) but the velocities needed to create that much atmospheric friction would appear to be pretty damn high.
  • Re:Transition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:30AM (#6366689)
    I dont know; in my personal experience with these devices (in their slower, American and Australian forms), I've rarely seen people hold the railing. Most often, they're holding their bags, walking, or reading, etc.

    Obviously, I'm not suggesting no one uses the railing. But the people who need the railing (i.e. the elderly, the poorly balanced) might not be well advised to use such a device as this.

    Alternately: put hanging handles a la the subway system. They'd be adjustable (i.e. you could raise/lower them) with one hand, and then you'd avoid the need for a railing.
  • Re:Transition (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:32AM (#6366700) Journal
    The problem would be where would the poles *go* when you reached the end of the strip. If they just went around like on a conveyor belt, someone would get themselves pinned between the pole and the floor either out of malice (if it didn't slice through the person, the belt would jam or break) or sheer stupidity.

    If the belt ran around a deeper area, I could see an "internal" belt, carefully timed and placed so that the poles sank down at the end of the track, where the internal belt just held the poles and the external one had holes for the poles to stick through.

    So many holes and poles... Freud would be shocked.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BorgDrone ( 64343 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:37AM (#6366717) Homepage
    you will not cease to move forward.

    Once the wind resistance equals the force from the belt against your feet, you will cease to accellerate, it's not like you're suddenly going to stop.

    Note that the belt has to move pretty fast for that to happen.
  • Re:You know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FoxMcCloud ( 572729 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:48AM (#6366765)
    Well actually the friction only acts on your feet, while the wind resistance acts on your whole body (the front of it anyway), so you'll very likely fall backwards rather than just stop moving forward...
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:02AM (#6366823) Journal
    of course, in the story the attack takes place by having the men travel via a self balancing unicycle - segway is well on its way to that view. I suspect that we will see cities using both ideas in the future.
  • Re:Transition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sgups ( 449689 ) <sgups&hotmail,com> on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:34AM (#6367030)
    This is all well and good but don't most people in airports and stations have some sort of luggage as well. Those could accound for most of the accidents.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:23PM (#6367657) Journal
    Yup, fortunally this is france. Although they already been so weak as to pay damages, (do car manufacturers pay damages when you slam into a wall at the cars maximum speed?) hopefully they will be less susceptible to frivilous lawsuits.

    Just put a sign up that says you are using it at youre own risk and that the elderly, women and other idiots should just walk. Of course there should be a normal walkway to the side (if for no other reason then to allow maintenance)

    My fists start to itch when I read that stupid womans remark about her mother being scared. You don't have to fucking use it. I am tired of having the world fit itself to the lowest common denominator. This is a nice idea wich could solve some basic problems in large public areas like airports. Stupid people will always be falling over. Don't let the stupid people rule our lives.

  • Re:Transition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <<moc.xobreven> ... .vidavsxd54sals>> on Friday July 04, 2003 @04:39PM (#6368988) Homepage
    You need to make sure that, whatever you do, you jam both of them at once if one of them jams.

    It seems stupid that someone jamming the handles should jam the walkway, but once I was going down an escalator, casually leaning on the rail to look at some store, and some idiotic kids at the top of the escalator stuck something in the railing (whcih for some reason was partially open) and made the handhold jump track. So suddenly I was leaning on something that had stopped moving...and my feet kept going, and I quickly landed on my ass on the step above me. Luckily it was the down escalator, if it had been the up escalator, I would have 'landed on my ass on the step below me', which of course doesn't actually work and results in people rolling down the stairs.

    Trust me, it's much better for the whole thing to shudder and stop than half of it to do so, as people can easily be equally attached to the floor and any handles. Especially with loops from the could end up trying to pull someone's arm off!

  • by lpq ( 583377 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:06PM (#6369095) Homepage Journal
    Seems like the French aren't afraid to try techno-miracles -- I haven't seen any metro system as good -- London is close, but alot of inconsistencies. In Paris and France, they aren't afraid to try new things (and the US still
    doesn't have any high-speed trains....bunch of cowards -- look big behind
    their high-tech weapons -- but when it comes to something socially useful...
    forget it. It was a shame the French became the only company to provide
    Super-Sonic speeds on jets -- and, of course, what did we do in the US?
    We banned their use in US airspace because Elmer's cow might stop producing
    milk from the occasional bang. Big woop. We could have had coast-to-coast
    in 2-3 hours, but noooOOOOOooo.... any real R&D goes to defense where
    they don't have to worry about every soldier who breaks a nail suing them.

    Americans are just so damn stupid so often....that and greedy. Grrr.

    Why can't the US every take the lead in these areas --- because it's always
    private development and unless the private developer can prove profit (minus
    real or bogus lawsuits) before it is even tested, it falls dead on the design

    I really thought the Casino bosses in Las Vegas just might pull off the
    high speed train idea to L.A. But it's been ages since I heard that idea

    Everyone in the US seems to want to have the right to stop progress that can benefit large numbers of people -- like all the poltics with the "Rich"
    who can buy their congressmen in Menlo Park/Palo Alto and don't want BART
    to go through their town -- we were promised it would circle he Bay and have
    been paying sales tax to support it since...when, 1970's? Everything
    is politics and self-interest.


"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev