The QwikLane roadway is erected over the rights of way of existing freeways, roads and streets. By using standardized, prefabricated, 60 foot long road sections supported on pre-installed, standard columns, a simple mechanized erection process (setting each new section from previously laid sections) requires a fraction of the time and cost of normal freeway construction and does not disrupt traffic in the road below.
The QuickLane infrastructure is a light-weight, mass produced, elevated steel structure erected above existing road and highway rights-of-way. Patented construction methods and proprietary machinery permit fast, inexpensive QuickLane erection with a minimum disruption of normal activities on and around the right-of-way.
The QwikLane eliminates congestion through capacity gains from reduced headways and enhances safety through redundant systems and elimination of driver error. The system promises immediate reduction in energy consumption and related pollution through congestion reduction; it can immediately incorporate any future automotive advances in fuel economy, energy alternatives and pollution control as they become commercially available to the public.
Experience with High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) lanes demonstrates substantial willingness by drivers to pay considerable fees to avoid congestion. Because the QwikLane infrastructure costs 3%-5% as much as comparable highway capacity on a capacity basis, the system cost and operations can be fully recovered through relatively low tolls and with modest market share.
2.0 The QwikLane Solution to the Personal Transportation Problem
The QwikLane can move large numbers of people for intermediate distances, 20 to 200 miles, with speed, efficiency, safety, privacy and comfort and then provide a seamless transition to conventional street driving. Operating in the rapid transit mode at its design specifications (100 feet/second (68 mph) and platooned vehicle spacing) a single lane QwikLane can easily accommodate 6,000 or more vehicles per hour. By comparison, a single lane of a conventional freeway is reported by traffic experts to accommodate a maximum of 2,000 vehicles per hour before it becomes prone to rapid deterioration in throughput.
The roadway traffic control model simulates a chain of virtual cells (each of which can accommodate one vehicle) moving at a constant speed of 100 ft. / sec. along the roadway. The master computer is cognizant of the location and status of each cell and initiates a vehicle's acceleration run so that it converges with an empty cell at the correct time and velocity to join the traffic flow. Since speed and vehicle separation are controlled with high precision by the onboard controller, very little clearance is needed between vehicles. No other traffic is inconvenienced by the entering vehicle as it converges into an empty cell at zero relative speed with respect to nearby vehicles.
3.0 The Primary QwikLane Control Subsystems
The primary QwikLane control subsystems – the onboard sensing and control system and the master computer and the communication link – are briefly described below.
Onboard sensing and control system: The vehicle sensing and control system consists of direction and speed actuators, a suite of onboard position, velocity and direction sensors, an onboard controller and a two way data link to the master traffic management computer.
Continuous sensing of fuel supply, battery charge, engine and bearing temperatures, tire pressure, oil pressure, engine vibration, exhaust chemistry and other indicators of potential problems will inform the onboard controller of a potential failure in time to remove the vehicle from the roadway. Using the data from these instruments, the onboard controller also reports vehicle readiness to the master computer prior to the vehicle's entering the onramp. Entry will be refused if any potential malfunction is reported.
Functions of the central computer: The central computer performs a few, very important tasks, however, for reliability and convenience, these functions are kept to a bare minimum. When on the roadway, the vehicle acceleration, guidance, speed control, safety, and emergency response functions are performed by the vehicle's onboard control system. The central computer controls the traffic protocol, keeping track of the location of open cells so that it can initiate the vehicle's acceleration run. It collects data for billing purposes and other housekeeping functions. It has no function, other than communication, when a vehicle is under manual control on streets and highways.
Data link: A communication link, provides two way data exchange between the master computer and each vehicle. A cell type radio link is a possible choice but optical, direct microwave and other methods must be comparatively evaluated. Even though it must communicate with any or all vehicles on the roadway, the amount of data traffic is minimal since most operational functions are performed by the vehicle's onboard systems.
4.0 System Reliability and Safety
Safety is inherent in the QwikLane concept and embodiment. High speed, bumper to bumper driving is normally viewed as hazardous with manually controlled vehicles on conventional roads and freeways since a vehicle may maneuver, brake or falter in less time than the following driver's response time. The close spacing and constant speed of the QwikLane preclude a high relative velocity between vehicles and a resultant serious collision.
In addition to the safety inherent in the QwikLane concept, all components of the QwikLane, are designed for the specific mission with reliability and safety as first priority and component redundancy where performance is vulnerable. Preliminary analysis indicates that it can achieve a level of safety far superior to that of the best conventional freeway.
The time is right for the development of the QwikLane. The need is acute, and all of the system and subsystem technology, production methods and management techniques are mature and available. In some congested cities, failure to respond to the need will increasingly cripple the economy and diminish the quality of urban life. In many congested cities, freeways can no longer be expanded or new freeways afforded.
A QwikLane installation will cost a fraction of the price of new or expanded freeways and can utilize existing rights of way, minimizing the impact on existing infrastructure and the need for major government funding.
A consortium of companies encompassing the necessary skills and technologies (automotive design and manufacture, guidance and control, steel fabrication and erection, communication, marketing etc.) could develop and operate a QwikLane in a very short time – years, not decades. Operating the QwikLane as a toll system can fully amortize the investment and yield profit to the investors.