As loyal readers of this newsletter know, we at DFC are advocates of making your workplace where you already are. Our “where” happens to be a cabin in eastern Ontario, but we look forward to the day when folks all over can use technological interventions to bring their workplaces to them . Until that happens, we fully recognize that most people have to bring themselves to work instead! But that means braving the dreaded commute. (*Organ riff, thunderclap*)
One strategy to help with the commute conondrum is currently being revived after making the viral rounds a couple years ago. Engineer Song Youzhou has presented a working model of his “straddling bus” concept, heretofore only existing in animated form, at the recent 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo. The idea behind this bus is ambitiously neat: as wide as two lanes of traffic and two storeys tall, it’s elevated off its roadbed rails by its elongated sides. This allows it cars to pass underneath the bus, or it to overtake cars on the road, regardless of traffic conditions. Check out the 2012 concept video, still in play, here
Downsides include the fact that only personal-sized vehicles, like cars and SUVs, could fit under the bus — trucks will have to find another route. Also, as BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow points out , the concept video fudges the bus’s physics: where a real-live straddling bus’s turn radius would make it impossible to corner at most intersections, the artistic rendering conveniently bends parts of the bus that shouldn’t, to make it work. Both issues are major (ahem) roadblocks to real-world use.
But Song Youzhou is already addressing some of the problems: the new physical model employs more articulations to make those pesky turns easier. However, only time (and more prototypes) will tell if the “land airbus” will ever take to the streets. Until then, we can enjoy the daydream of a peaceful, traffic free glide in to work — if our work isn’t already in our living rooms, that is!