Cabintaxi

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Cabintaxi

Cabintaxi's test track in Hagen, Germany
Vendor: Cabintaxi Corporation
System Type: PRT with AGT Capability, Seated and Standing Passenger Systems
Guideway Type: supported and suspended For Seated Passenger Systems
Motor Type: LIM
Power Delivery: AC Power Rails
Country: Germany
ADA Compliant: not provided
Status: not being developed; available
Website: cabintaxi


In 1970 the German Ministry of Science and Technology became aware that two firms, Meserschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and Demag had independantly been working on PRT concepts that were similar, and urged them to merge their efforts. The result became the Cabintaxi Joint Venture, or Cabinentaxi in German. Development continued intensively from 1969 to 1979. Their test track was the largest of any to date and their tests were the most thorough. [reference needed]

Cabintaxi was accepted by the Urban Mass Transit Administration as a completed development, qualifing to compete in the Downtown People Mover Program. While considered a front runner for the Detroit People Mover Project, the Cabintaxi Joint Venture withdrew from the US program to concentrate their efforts on an expected Hamburg application.

Contents

Overview

Cabintaxi has been the only group in the world to build a small-vehicle PRT system (referred to by some as a "true" PRT). A large test track facility was built in Hagen, Germany, that was used for an extensive testing program conducted from 1973 to 1979. The Cabintaxi technology logged over 400,000 miles of vehicle testing and operations from 1975 to 1978. In 1977 the system completed, fleet operation endurance testing, of 7500 continuous vehicle hours, and again in 1978, of 10,000 continuous vehicle hours, for a total of 17,500 vehicle hours of fleet endurance testing. The fleet was made up, at its maximum in this time period, of 24 operating vehicles over two levels. The Cabintaxi endurance tests are the only fleet endurance test of these magnitudes ever carried out successfully with vehicle separations under 3 seconds.

The German Government considered this PRT development effort successfully completed and ready for urban deployment , but a planned application in Hamburg was terminated for budgetary reasons in 1979. With the termination of the Hamburg project, the participating companies withdrew from the field. No other PRT development program has been able to match Cabintaxi's level of development during the past 30+ years.

Cabintaxi was and still is unique in that its vehicles ride on top of the guideway as well as running suspended underneath the guideway. This was done to provide for two-way access on a single guideway to all stations in the system to reduce significantly the total miles of elevated structure (the most costly part of the system) within a large urban network. A diagram is provided that illustrates this idea more completely. Extensive studies of this issue were made and the least costly alternative turned out to be the over&under solution, shown above.

Design Requirements

In 1969, Demag and MBB, separately, started design studies that led to the eight-year Cabintaxi/Cabinlift development program. The German Government combined the development activities of both firms into the jointly funded program in 1972. The objective of this research and development effort was to devise a transit technology that would be a significant export product with the following characteristics:

1. Small, comfortable vehicles with seats, available at stations and ready for use upon demand
2. Origin-destination operation with no transfers or intermediate stops by use of off-line track at each station.
3. Mainline speed of at least 30 km/hr (18 mph).
4. Complete separation of travel from all other modes by use of elevated guideways throughout the installation.
5. Fully automated operation of the total system.
6. Linear induction propulsion to better control vehicle separation when operating at headways under 10 seconds. Low noise levels and no air pollution were also important objectives.
Cabintaxi Test Track in 1975

System definition and laboratory experimentation on components began in 1969. The basis of the control system was developed and tested on a 13 meter, rotary, test fixture during a 16 month period that began in 1972. The first stage of the test facility was completed near Hagen in August, 1973. These facilities consisted of 150 meters of double track guideway (for both supported and suspended vehicles), a merge point, two passenger stations (one at each level) and three vehicles. By October, 1974 the track had been extended to a closed loop with two by-passes and was 1136 meters long. Five vehicles, three above and two below were used for extensive testing. In 1975, the test facility had three stations and nine fully automated vehicles. In October of 1975 a 12-passenger vehicle was introduced for testing. In 1976, the test facility had 1.9 km of guideway, six stations (including those for maintenance and rescue vehicles)and 24 operating vehicles. The emergency evacuation issue was also studied extensively. Testing continued through 1979.

Further Development

In 1975, the test facility had three stations and nine fully automated vehicles. In October of 1975 a 12-passenger vehicle was introduced for testing. In 1976, the test facility had 1.9 km of guideway, six stations (including those for maintenance and rescue vehicles)and 24 operating vehicles. The emergency evacuation issue was also studied extensively. Testing continued through 1979. Some of the technical characteristics of the technology were as follows:

  • Guideway - box girder provides guidance and support for both suspended and supported vehicles
  • Stations - off-line stations spaced 0.3 to 0.8 km apart; capacity , design dependent, 1,200 vehicles/hr.
  • Vehicles - For PRT applications - 3 and 12 passenger vehicles demonstrated: 3, 6, 12 and 18 passenger vehicles as well as freight vehicles designed. For non-PRT applications - 12 and 24 passenger vehicles demonstrated for standing passenger applications. One 12-passenger vehicle in operation in a hospital shuttle application.
  • Propulsion - 2 double-comb linear electric motors, reaction rail mounted horizontally on the box beam girder
  • Speed - 36 km/hr (22 mph)
  • Separation between vehicles - 2.5 seconds planned for applications (0.5 seconds demonstrated under test but operational requirements called for a "brickwall" stopping ability, which required the 2.5 seconds separation).
  • Operations - For guideway 20% full: 240 veh/hr or 720 seats/hr for 3-passenger vehicles, 2,880 seats/hr for 12-passenger vehicles. For a guideway 80% full: 2,880 vehicles/hr or 8,640 seats/hr for 3-passenger vehicles; 34,560 seats/hr for 12-passenger vehicles. An example of the 12 passenger vehicle that is in operation is available at the Cabinlift page.
  • Braking - three independent but blended braking systems were utilized, emergency braking distance of 7 meters was demonstrated. "Brickwall" stopping requirements, under icy conditions, were demonstrated with 2.5 seconds of separation.
  • Emergency Evacuation - extensive studies and demonstrations were done to prove that a walkway for emergency evacuation was not needed.

Impact

Cabintaxi was a significant research and development effort and was supported 85% by the German Ministry of Research and Technology. Funding for the program reached $70,000,000 by the time the project came to an end. People from around the world visited the test facility. A 20-minute film was produced (with an English sound track) that showed the test track facility in operation and also explains how Cabintaxi could be used in an urban application. This film has also been transferred to videotape and CD-ROM. A photo of a two level stations at the test track is shown below. Photos of vehicles operating on the test track (four at 60 Kbytes) are also provided as are guideway photos. A scale model with a transparent guideway, four illustrations of Cabintaxi stations, several more test track photos and seven architectural renderings are also provided. Two excellent videos are available on-line, one shows Cabintaxi in operation and the other shows Cabinlift in action. Both are particularly useful for introducing PRT concepts.

An extensive application study was conducted for Hagen in 1971-72. A 10-page summary of this study (in English) is available on-line. It includes a map of the proposed areawide network for Hagen and a loading diagram that was derived from simulation studies. It was the first extensive PRT application study ever done.

CabinTaxi

In 1977, expectations were that an initial installation would be made in Hamburg. The Hamburg transit authority (Hamburg Hochbahn AG) sought approval for a system using 12-passenger vehicles and a final (political) decision to do so was made in October, 1978. The site chosen was in the northern part of the city where a modern business center with office buildings featuring very modern architecture were located. It was estimated that the integration of the Cabintaxi technology in this location would present no problems. The system was to consist of loop 1.2 miles in length, connecting two stations in the office area to the Rubenkamp rapid-rail station. Longer range plans featured 20 miles of double-track guideway and 180 vehicles. Unfortunately, this plan was stopped because of budgetary constraints. Some results from simulation studies conducted in Hamburg are available.

Cabintaxi/Cabinlift Development History

The starting point for the development of the Cabintaxi and Cabinlift systems was the long experience both companies had acquired in neighbouring fields of technology. In DEMAG's case, in the field of world-wide materials handling, especially automatic goods distribution installations, in MBB's case, in the field of subway and rapid urban railroad train construction.

  • 1970 System analysis and product planning.
  • 1971 Experimental trials for critical components on transport test benches. Construction of first Cabintaxi linear motor.
  • 1972 Start of testing of full-scale small-capacity cabs.
  • 1973 Cabintaxi test circuit, first sub-section, opened. Transit with small cabs KK 3 through rigid merging points on two lanes, one over the other.
  • 1974 Complete test circuit in operation for overrunning and underhanging vehicles. Start of endurance testing for automatic destination-programmed cabs without operator.
  • 1975 KK 12 cat with 12 seats subjected to tests. "Overnight" installation of the second passenger station. Construction of the first Cabinlift at Ziegenhain District Hospital.
  • 1976 Commercial operation of Ziegenhain Cabinlift, vehicle MK 12. Cabintaxi components in endurance tests. Automatic headway control in operation. Extension of test circuit with 15% grade section. Third station and two recovery vehicles.
  • 1977 Maturing of automation components. Certification procedures. Test vehicle MK 18 for Bremen Central Hospital. Prototype of MK 25/MK 50 vehicles.
  • 1978 Start of construction of Bremen Cabinlift.

These development activities were supported by the Minister for Research and Technology of the Federal Republic of Germany since, 1 January 1972.

Cabintaxi Emergency Evacuation Studies

Emergency Evacuation Tests
Emergency Evacuation Tests
Emergency Evacuation Vehicle

The photos in this section were taken during various emergency evacuation studies done for the Cabintaxi PRT system. This work was conducted at the Hagen test facility in Germany in the mid-1970s, as part of a government funding analysis of evacuation issues as they relate to small-vehicle automated transportation systems.

The German transportation safety authorities were integrated into every aspect of the Cabintaxi system development. The resultant of this was a successfully developed system in which no walkway is required. The above pictures only demonstrate the thoroughness that took place at the Hagen test facility.

Cabintaxi designers and government directed safety experts used this demonstration project to gain experience from the new system to combine with real world knowledge to more fully explore the elements of the evacuation and safety issue. The Cabintaxi system underwent extensive fire testing, reliability analysis and demonstration, and over 400,000 miles of endurance testing, in the process of satisfying all of the involved agencies - the Hamburg Hochbahn, the Technischer Überwachungsverein (TÜV), the German Railway, and the Federal Ministry of Research and Technology – that public safety would not be placed in jeopardy through the installation of this new technology. The development team, in cooperation with the safety authorities, knew early on the issues that had to be dealt with to allow the system to be implemented without walkways, and worked together uncompromisingly in achieving these goals.

With a recognition that no transit property in the world wants a situation where passengers evacuate without supervision, the final plans for the Hamburg application relied on demonstrated high system reliability and the inability of failure to introduce fire into the passenger compartment, to eliminate meaningful risks to the passengers. Should the system have encountered a rare event that caused the system to shut down, correction of the problem and restarting, was the planned action. If in the even more rare event where individuals might need to be removed from the system, the main actions would be carried out cooperatively with local trained safety authorities using surface equipment. Should a vehicle be at a location on the guideway that did not lend itself to surface access, maintenance vehicles equipped with telescoping walkways and railings (shown at right) were developed to access any vehicle utilizing the same or opposite level.

Installation Plans

While the Cabintaxi system installation in Hamburg was halted, the Cabinlift system, the same core technology, was approved and installed without a walkway at it application in Ziegenhain Germany. That application is over two thousand feet in length and reaches fifty feet above the ground. It has been in daily use since 1976, and the evacuation of passengers has not been an issue.

An extensive application study was conducted for Hagen in 1971-72. A 10-page summary of this study (in English) is available on-line. It includes a map of the proposed areawide network for Hagen and a loading diagram that was derived from simulation studies. It was the first extensive PRT application study ever done.

In 1977, expectations were that an initial installation would be made in Hamburg. The Hamburg transit authority (Hamburg Hochbahn AG) sought approval for a system using 12-passenger vehicles and a final (political) decision to do so was made in October, 1978. The site chosen was in the northern part of the city where a modern business center with office buildings featuring very modern architecture were located. It was estimated that the integration of the Cabintaxi technology in this location would present no problems. The system was to consist of loop 1.2 miles in length, connecting two stations in the office area to the Rubenkamp rapid-rail station. Longer range plans featured 20 miles of double-track guideway and 180 vehicles. Unfortunately, this plan was stopped because of budgetary constraints. Some results from simulation studies conducted in Hamburg are available.

Current Update

The Hamburg project was brought to an end by budget cuts within the German Ministry of Research and Technology. With the end of the only possible project in Europe, the developing firms saw no market for this technology and abandoned activities in this field. Four years after the German firms withdrew from the field, the United States firm of Cabintaxi Corporation, obtained the rights to this system and is active in the private sector where it looks to be the owner/operator of updated systems based on this technology. More information about the Cabintaxi technology can be obtained by contacting Marsden Burger, President, Cabintaxi Corporation, 1703 Parker, Detroit, MI 48214; Ph: 313-921-3955.

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