Ingenieur Vol. 74 Ingenieur Vol 72, April-June 2018 - Page 38

INGENIEUR Orient Express. Despite the cost, this route is incredibly popular with tourists, who flood the lines for what amounts to a 20-second ride. Not only is it incredibly expensive to travel this route, it is also impractical. When factoring in the time it takes to get in and out of the stations, it’s quicker—and cheaper—to walk. History of Steam-Powered Cars – Mary Bellis The automobile as we know it today was not invented in a single day by a single inventor. Rather, the history of the automobile reflects an evolution that took place worldwide, a result of more than 100,000 patents from several inventors.  And there were many firsts that occurred along the way, starting with the first theoretical plans for a motor vehicle that had been drawn up by both Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. However, it's important to bear in mind that the earliest practical vehicles were powered by steam. Nicolas Joseph Cugnot's Steam Vehicles In 1769, the very first self-propelled road vehicle was a military tractor invented by French engineer and mechanic, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. He used a steam engine to power his vehicle, which was built under his instructions at the Paris Arsenal. The steam engine and boiler were separate from the rest of the vehicle and placed in the front. It was used by the French Army to haul artillery at a speed of 2½ mph on only three wheels. The vehicle even had to stop every ten to fifteen minutes to build up steam power. The following year, Cugnot built a steam-powered tricycle that carried four passengers.However, the problem was that steam engines added so much weight to a vehicle that they proved a poor design for road vehicles. Still, steam engines were successfully  used in locomotives. And historians who accept that early steam-powered road vehicles were technically automobiles often consider Nicolas Cugnot to be the inventor of the first automobile. Arrival of Electric Cars Steam engines were not the only engines used in early automobiles as vehicles with electrical engines also gained traction around the same 6 36 VOL 2018 VOL 74 55 APRIL-JUNE JUNE 2013 time. Sometime between 1832 and 1839, Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first electric carriage. They relied on rechargeable batteries that powered a small electric motor. The vehicles were heavy, slow, expensive and needed to be recharged frequently. Electricity was more practical and efficient when used to power tramways and streetcars, where a constant supply of electricity was possible. Yet around 1900, electric land vehicles in America came to outsell all other types of cars. Then in the several years following 1900, sales of electric vehicles took a nosedive as a new type of vehicle powered by gasoline came to dominate the consumer market. Futuristic high speed ground travel system - Hyperloop Our fascination with high-speed travel has resulted in the development of some incredibly fast machines. Concorde, once the world’s fastest commercial passenger jet, travelled at speeds of over 2,000 kph – more than twice the speed of sound. And when the magnetic-levitation bullet train was introduced in Japan, it became the world's fastest train, reaching speeds of 600 kph. Now we’re awaiting the hyperloop, the futuristic, high-speed ground travel system first proposed by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2012. One of its developers, Virgin Hyperloop One, says it can travel at speeds of up to 1,200kph (760 mph). A prototype of the pods  designed to carry passengers was unveiled in Dubai, where the first operational hyperloop system is scheduled to be built, possibly as soon as 2021. The hyperloop uses an electromagnetic propulsion system to accelerate through a vacuum tube, Virgin says. The vehicle is d esigned to float above a track and glides at high speeds for long distances due to low aerodynamic drag. Hyperloop will also be fully autonomous and enclosed, eliminating pilot error and weather hazards, Virgin adds. Passengers travelling on the Dubai hyperloop would be able to get from the city to Abu Dhabi, around 140km in 12 minutes. Currently, this trip takes about two hours.