Streetcar or bus? The AutoTram® offers the best of both: Up to 36 meters long, it can carry as many passengers as a streetcar while being as versatile as a bus. A flywheel energy storage system absorbs part of the braking energy and cuts operating costs. The advantages of a train and a bus are united in the AutoTram®: It has the transportation capacity of a streetcar and the versatility of a bus. Fraunhofer researchers have cooperated with Hübner GmbH to devise a new concept for a modular vehicle that, depending on the volume of passengers, can either be operated as a single bus or assembled to form a uni-directional or bi-directional high-capacity vehicle. The AutoTram® needs neither rails nor an expensive system of overhead lines. The articulated train trundles through the streets on rubber wheels like a bus.
An active multiple-axle steering system with integrated guidance ensures a safe journey. Based on video and differential GPS, the system assists the driver of the AutoTram® and enables him to steer the vehicle accurately, even round sharp bends. The 24-meter bi-directional vehicle consists of two low-floor modules, joined back-to-back by a symmetrical articulated coupling made by Hübner a design that allows flexible operation. On routes with a low passenger volume, the two modules are separated and used as single buses. If a particularly large number of passengers are expected, an additional module can be inserted, extending the AutoTram® into a high-capacity vehicle 36 meters long.Another special feature of the AutoTram® is its hybrid drive concept. It draws its power from a 180-kW diesel engine and a flywheel energy storage system (4 kWh/200 kW). The storage system absorbs part of the braking energy, enabling the AutoTram® to travel short distances up to two kilometers completely without noise or emissions.
Source: fraunhofer.deAdded: 5 October 2009