Fancy a Ride in This Floating Car That’s Held up With Magnets?

Fancy a Ride in This Floating Car That’s Held up With Magnets?

Magnet-powered floating cars are being tested in Eastern China. That is, cars that have been modified to levitate using magnets.

Flying cars are a bit of a novelty right now. Though there are a lot of experiments and projects surrounding the concept, we’re still yet to see widely available flying cars (though one is now available in Europe).

This latest experiment is less a novelty and is more something that might turn into a practical alternative to petrol, electricity or hydrogen on specific routes. What does it use instead? Magnets, as reported by CNBC.

The car in the video, a petrol engine BYD (unlike the electric BYDs now shipping overseas), doesn’t normally float. It has been retrofitted with an array of magnets and put on a road, also retrofitted with magnets. It was able to float 35 millimetres off the ground on a Chinese highway, according to Xu Qinduo from the Pangoal Institution, a Chinese policy think tank.

The car was modified by researchers at Southwest Jiaotong University, as reported by state news agency China Daily. The idea is to increase the range of vehicles by offering a source of propulsion and to reduce fuel consumption.

The test was performed on a 7.9km section of highway using eight cars, with speeds of 200km/h on the magnetic track. A permanent array of magnets was also installed in the area.

After this test, a researcher on the project, Professor Deng Zigang from Southwest Jiaotong University, said that the development of “maglev” vehicles will follow.

That’s the same kind of technology that runs the super-fast bullet trains in China, capable of speeds of 600km/h.

Watching the video back, the technology has a lot of promise, but there has to be safety concerns, right? The car is so wobbly, and with all four wheels off the ground, the user has no control of the direction, braking or speed of the car. I also can’t shake the idea of bumping into the car in front of you that hasn’t got magnets activated while you’re still gliding at a ludicrous speed.

Obviously, it was a prototype and was part of a test, but safety will likely be front of mind going forward with experiments in this field.

In the meantime, if this is supposed to address range anxiety, I welcome a proactive government solution like the rolling out of magnetic infrastructure, but range is fast becoming a non-issue for EVs, especially with new tech innovations being explored around the world.

Regardless, I am excited to see what happens with magnet-powered floating cars. Right now, it looks like a car crash waiting to happen.

While you’re here, why not check out our list of every new EV in Australia, or every electric vehicle coming to Australia.

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