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Title:
ROAD VEHICLE GUIDEWAY SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/171026
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A road vehicle guideway system comprises: a first guideway for supporting a road vehicle travelling along the guideway, the guideway having running surfaces on which tyres of the road vehicle can run; a guide device located below the running surfaces; and a vehicle engagement unit for connecting the road vehicle to the guide device, wherein the guide device is arranged to resist lateral forces transmitted from the road vehicle to the guide device by the vehicle engagement unit, and thereby limit lateral movement of the road vehicle.

Inventors:
COOKE, John Nicholas (18 Stonyhurst Crescent, CulchethWarrington, Cheshire WA3 4DS, WA3 4DS, GB)
Application Number:
GB2019/050569
Publication Date:
September 12, 2019
Filing Date:
February 28, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CHORLEX LIMITED (18 Stonyhurst Crescent, CulchethWarrington, Cheshire WA3 4DS, WA3 4DS, GB)
International Classes:
E01B25/28; B62D1/26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
APPLEYARD LEES IP LLP (15 Clare Road, Halifax, Yorkshire HX1 2HY, HX1 2HY, GB)
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Claims:
Claims

1 . A road vehicle guideway system comprising:

a first guideway for supporting a road vehicle travelling along the guideway, the guideway having running surfaces on which tyres of the road vehicle can run;

a guide device located below the running surfaces; and

a vehicle engagement unit for connecting the road vehicle to the guide device, wherein the guide device is arranged to resist lateral forces transmitted from the road vehicle to the guide device by the vehicle engagement unit, and thereby limit lateral movement of the road vehicle.

2. A road vehicle guideway system according to claim 1 , wherein the first guideway comprises first guide surfaces, the first guide surfaces resisting lateral movement of the guide device to thereby resist lateral forces transmitted form the vehicle to the guide device.

3. A road vehicle guideway system according to claim 2, wherein the guide device comprises wheels arranged to run along the first guide surfaces to resist lateral movement of the guide device.

4. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, and comprising:

a junction at which a second guideway diverges from the first guideway; and

a switch for selectively switching the guide device between the first guideway and the second guideway to switch the road vehicle between the first guideway and the second guideway.

5. A road vehicle guideway system according to claim 4 when dependent on claim 2, wherein the second guideway comprises second guide surfaces at a different level from the first guide surfaces, and the switch is arranged to move the guide device between the first and second guide surfaces to switch the guide device between the first guideway and the second guideway.

6. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the first guideway is elevated.

7. A road vehicle according to any preceding claim, wherein the guide device is arranged to resist vertical forces transmitted from the vehicle to the guide device by the vehicle engagement unit, and thereby limit vertical movement of the road vehicle.

8. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the first guideway comprises a first conductor for transmitting electrical energy along the first guideway, and the vehicle engagement unit comprises a second conductor for contacting the first conductor and thereby transmitting electrical energy from the first conductor to the road vehicle.

9. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle engagement unit is arranged to connect to a second road vehicle to couple the road vehicle to the second road vehicle.

10. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle engagement unit is disconnectable from the guide device so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system.

1 1 . A road vehicle guideway system according to claim 10, wherein the vehicle engagement unit is arranged to retract after disconnection from the guide device so that the road vehicle can travel along a road. 12. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle engagement unit and guide device are disconnectable from the road vehicle guideway system and arranged to retract together to so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system with the vehicle engagement unit and guide device retained by the road vehicle.

13. A road vehicle guideway system according to any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle engagement unit is disconnectable from the road vehicle so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system with the vehicle engagement unit retained by the guideway system.

14. A vehicle engagement unit for connecting a road vehicle to a guide device of a road vehicle guideway system, the vehicle engagement unit arranged to transmit lateral forces from the road vehicle to the guide device, so that the guide device can resist the lateral forces and thereby limit lateral movement of the road vehicle.

15. A road vehicle, or a road vehicle guideway system comprising a vehicle engagement unit according to claim 14.

Description:
Road Vehicle Guideway System

The invention relates to road vehicle guideway system, a vehicle engagement unit and a road vehicle.

The path along which a typical conventional road vehicle travels is usually controlled by a driver who steers the front wheels of the vehicle in the desired direction of travel. Individual lanes of road carriageways are usually considerably wider than the maximum width of any such road vehicle, in order to allow safe clearances on both sides of the vehicle plus ample margins for variations in vehicle paths due to different driving styles, different vehicle characteristics and different road surface conditions.

Construction of carriageways with narrower lanes is desirable in locations where insufficient land space is available to meet demands for additional road capacity using conventional lane widths and in locations where construction of an elevated carriageway is desirable (for grade separation of conflicting vehicle movements, for instance). The anticipated introduction of autonomous (driverless) vehicles on public roads may increase demands for additional road capacity and grade separation of conflicting vehicle movements.

If a lane along which road vehicles travel is constructed in the form of a guideway, along which vehicles are centralised by a guidance system, there will be almost no variations in vehicle travel paths so the carriageway width may be much smaller.

Optical and magnetic vehicle guidance systems have insufficient fail-safe capabilities to enable fast moving vehicles to safely change direction on a narrow guideway. Additionally, the provision of safe reliable switching capabilities is difficult with a kerb guidance system, owing to potential clashes between raised kerbs and the paths of vehicle tyres at turnouts.

According to a first aspect, there is provided a road vehicle guideway system comprising: a first guideway for supporting a road vehicle travelling along the guideway, the guideway having running surfaces on which tyres of the road vehicle can run; a guide device located below the running surfaces; and a vehicle engagement unit for connecting the road vehicle to the guide device, wherein the guide device is arranged to resist lateral forces transmitted from the road vehicle to the guide device by the vehicle engagement unit, and thereby limit lateral movement of the road vehicle.

Limiting lateral movement (i.e. in a substantially horizontal direction perpendicular to the direction of travel of the road vehicle) of the road vehicle centres the road vehicle on the first guideway, allowing a fast moving road vehicle to travel safely along a narrow guideway. Additionally, the guide device being located below the running surfaces means that switching can be performed more easily, with only the vehicle engagement unit (which may be elongate and/or narrow) extending across the level of the running surfaces. This reduces the break required in the running surfaces at a junction (as explained in more detail below).

In one example, the first guideway comprises first guide surfaces, the first guide surfaces resisting lateral movement of the guide device to thereby resist lateral forces transmitted from the vehicle to the guide device. The first guide surfaces (which may be internal surfaces between which the guide device is located) act to prevent lateral movement of the guide device as the guide device travels along the first guideway with the road vehicle.

In one example, the guide device comprises wheels arranged to run along the first guide surfaces to resist lateral movement of the guide device.

In one example, the road vehicle guideway system comprises: a junction at which a second guideway diverges from the first guideway; and a switch for selectively switching the guide device between the first guideway and the second guideway to switch the road vehicle between the first guideway and the second guideway. Such a junction may be a point at which the guideway splits into two guideways, or a point at which two guideways merge to form a single guideway. As described above, the guide device and the vehicle engagement unit are particularly advantageous at such junctions.

In one example, the second guideway comprises second guide surfaces at a different level from the first guide surfaces, and the switch is arranged to move the guide device between the first and second guide surfaces to switch the guide device between the first guideway and the second guideway.

In one example, the first guideway is elevated.

In one example, the guide device is arranged to resist vertical forces transmitted from the vehicle to the guide device by the vehicle engagement unit, and thereby limit vertical movement of the road vehicle. This may be achieved by having part of the vehicle engagement unit located below the running surfaces or by barriers at the top of the guide surfaces to prevent the guide device moving too far upward, and helps prevent vehicles losing contact with and falling off the guideway.

In one example, the first guideway comprises a first conductor for transmitting electrical energy along the first guideway, and the vehicle engagement unit comprises a second conductor for contacting the first conductor and thereby transmitting electrical energy from the first conductor to the road vehicle. This means that electric road vehicles may be charged or powered from the guideway. The conductor rail may either be separate from the guide surfaces or also perform the function of a guide surface.

In one example, the vehicle engagement unit is arranged to connect to a second road vehicle to couple the road vehicle to the second road vehicle. This coupling between the road vehicles helps to maintain the distance between the road vehicles, allowing the road vehicles to run more closely together and increasing the traffic flux of the road vehicle guideway system.

In one example, the vehicle engagement unit is disconnectable from the guide device so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system. This means that the road vehicles may be used on standard roads as well as on the guideways. In one example, the vehicle engagement unit is arranged to retract after disconnection from the guide device so that the road vehicle can travel along a road

In one example, the vehicle engagement unit and guide device are disconnectable from the road vehicle guideway system and arranged to retract together so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system with the vehicle engagement unit and guide device retained by the road vehicle.

In one example, the vehicle engagement unit is disconnectable from the road vehicle so that the road vehicle may leave the road vehicle guideway system with the vehicle engagement unit retained by the guideway system.

According to a second aspect, there is provided a vehicle engagement unit for connecting a road vehicle to a guide device of a road vehicle guideway system, the vehicle engagement unit arranged to transmit lateral forces from the road vehicle to the guide device, so that the guide device can resist the lateral forces and thereby limit lateral movement of the road vehicle

According to a third aspect, there is provided a road vehicle comprising the above- described vehicle engagement unit.

The invention will now be described solely by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a section view of a road vehicle guideway system; FIG. 2 shows a section view of a road vehicle guideway system with a vehicle engagement unit in contact with a lower set of guide surfaces and also shows in dashed outline an alternative position of the vehicle engagement in contact with a higher set of guide surfaces;

FIG. 3 shows a plan view of a junction; and

FIG. 4 shows a section view of a road vehicle in position on a guideway with part of the vehicle engagement unit located below part of the guideway.

Referring to FIG. 1 there is shown a road vehicle guideway system 100. The road vehicle guideway system comprises a first guideway 200. The first guideway 200 comprises running surfaces 1. The running surfaces 1 extend substantially parallel to each other, and are located in this same, substantially horizontal (aside from where there are changes in elevation of the first guideway 200) plane. The first guideway 200 is elevated above the ground.

The first guideway 200 has a width W1 , which is the maximum allowable distance between the outside edges of a pair of tyres (FIG. 4: 9) of road vehicles (FIG. 4: 10) allowed to travel on the first guideway 200. The first guideway 200 has an internal width W2 (i.e. the spacing between inner edges of the running surfaces 1), which is the minimum allowable distance between the inside edges of a pair of tyres 9 of road vehicles 10 allowed to travel on the first guideway 200.

The first guideway 200 comprises first guide surfaces 2. The first guide surfaces 2 are internal surfaces which face each other. The first guide surfaces 2 are substantially planar. The first guide surfaces 2 extend in a substantially vertical direction and in a direction parallel to a direction of travel of the road vehicle 10. At least one of the first guide surfaces 2 is electrically conductive.

The road vehicle guideway system 100 comprises a vehicle engagement unit 3, which has an attachment 5 and an upwardly extending member 6. The member 6 is elongate and narrow, and extends in a substantially vertical direction. The attachment 5 is for connection to a road vehicle. The vehicle engagement unit 3 is partially above and partially below the running surfaces 1. The vehicle engagement unit 3 is electrically conductive,

The road vehicle guideway system comprises a guide device 7. The guide device 7 is located beneath the running surfaces 1. The guide device 7 comprises a substantially horizontal portion, which extends between guide wheels 4. The guide wheels 4 are in contact with the first guide surfaces 2, and are rotatable in a horizontal plane. The guide device 7 is electrically conductive.

The guide device 7 connects to the vehicle engagement unit 3. In some examples, the guide device 7 is fixed to the vehicle engagement unit 3, with the road vehicle connecting to the vehicle engagement unit 3 when the road vehicle begins to travel along the first guideway 200.

However, in other examples, the vehicle engagement unit 3 is first connected to the road vehicle, with the vehicle engagement unit 3 connecting to the guide device 7 when the road vehicle begins to travel along the first guideway 200. In such examples, the vehicle engagement unit 3 may be fixed to the road vehicle (e.g. manufactured as part of the road vehicle), or may be connected/disconnected from the road vehicle as required.

In use (as shown in FIG. 4), the vehicle engagement unit 3 connects the road vehicle to the guide device 7. The first guideway 200 supports the road vehicle as the road vehicle travels along the guideway. The tyres 9 of the road vehicle run along the running surfaces 1 .

The guide device 7 resists lateral forces transmitted from the road vehicle to the guide device 7 by the vehicle engagement unit 3. More specifically, the guide wheels 4 run along the first guide surfaces 2, with the first guide surfaces 2 resisting lateral movement of the guide device 7. This limits lateral movement of the road vehicle 10, centralising the road vehicle 10, and helping to maintain the road vehicle 10 on the first guideway 200. The guide device 7 travels along the first guideway 200 with the road vehicle 10.

Electrical energy travels along the first guideway 200 via the electrically conductive first guide surface 2. The guide device 7 and the vehicle engagement unit 3 transmit electrical energy from the first guide surface 2 to the road vehicle 10, allowing the road vehicle 10 to charge a battery (not shown).

When the road vehicle 10 leaves the first guideway 200, the vehicle engagement unit 3 is disconnected from the guide device 7. The vehicle engagement unit 3 retracts after disconnection from the guide device 7 so that the road vehicle 10 can travel along a standard road. In other examples, the road vehicle 10 may disconnect from the vehicle engagement unit 3, with the vehicle engagement unit 3 remaining connected to the guide device 7.

Referring to FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, there is shown the road vehicle guideway system 100 at a junction 300. In addition to the first guide surfaces 2, at the junction 300, the road vehicle guideway system 100 comprises second guide surfaces 8. The road vehicle guideway system 100 further comprises a switch (not shown).

The second guide surfaces 8 are at a different level from the first guide surfaces 2. More specifically, the second guide surfaces 8 are lower than the first guide surfaces 2. FIG. 2 shows the guide device 7 in a position such that the guide wheels 4 are in contact with the second guide surfaces 8.

As shown in FIG. 3, at the junction 300, a second guideway 202 diverges from the first guideway 200. The first guideway 200 comprise first running surfaces 1 and first and second guide surfaces 2, 8 as shown in Figure 2, while the second guideway 202 comprises second running surfaces 13. The second guideway 202 also comprises first and second guide surfaces (not shown) that, away from the junction 300 correspond in structure and function to those of the first guideway 200. At a point in the junction where the first guideway 200 and the second guideway 202 diverge, the first guide surfaces 2 also diverge from the second guide surfaces 8 from one another as described in more detail below.

The junction 300 comprises a first gap 14 in a second running surface 13 to permit the vehicle engagement unit 3 (more specifically the upwardly extending member 6) to pass through the second running surface 13 as a road vehicle 10 travels along the first guideway 200 and remains on the first guideway 200.

The junction 300 comprises a second gap 15 in a first running surface 1 to permit the vehicle engagement unit 3 (more specifically the upwardly extending member 6) to pass through the first running surface 1 as a road vehicle 10 travels from the first guideway 200 to the second guideway 202. At the second gap 15, there is also a gap in a first guide surface 2.

As the road vehicle 10 travels towards the junction 300, the switch is used to selectively switch the guide device 7 between the first guide surfaces 2 and the second guide surfaces 8 to switch the road vehicle 10 between the first guideway 200 and the second guideway 202.

For example, if the guide device 7 is switched so that its guide wheels 4 travel along the first guide surfaces 2, the guide device 7 maintains the road vehicle 10 on the first guideway 200 after the junction 300. The vehicle engagement unit 3 (more specifically the upwardly extending member 6) passes through the second running surface 13 and above the second guide surface 8 at the first gap 14.

Alternatively, if the guide device 7 is switched so that its guide wheels 4 travel along the second guide surfaces 8, the guide device 7 causes the road vehicle 10 to travel along the second guideway 202 after the junction 300. The vehicle engagement unit 3 (more specifically the upwardly extending member 6) passes through the first running surface 1 and the first guide surface 2 at the second gap 15.

Referring to FIG 4, there is shown a second road vehicle guide system 400 comprising all of the features of the road vehicle guide system 100, as well as barriers 16. The barriers 16 are substantially horizontal surfaces located at the top of the first guide surfaces 2. In the example of FIG. 4, the barriers 16 form the undersides of the upper of parts of I-beam sections which make up the first guideway 200.

In use, the barriers 16 resist vertical forces transmitted from the road vehicle 10 to the guide device 7 by the vehicle engagement unit 3. This is achieved by the barriers 16 preventing the guide wheels 4 from moving above the first guide surfaces 2. This limits vertical movement of the road vehicle 10.

Although a few preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications might be made without departing from the scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

Attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings) may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment(s). The invention extends to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.




 
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