What is Gyrobus (not a bus) and why they are life threatening
Today, almost every car manufacturer is trying to achieve zero emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere. To do this, they gradually abandon internal combustion engines and switch to electric analogues, but few know that ecological transport was invented back in the 1950s. It was then that on the streets of Swiss cities there appeared gyrobus – an eco-friendly, quiet and smooth public transport operating on kinetic energy from a rotating flywheel.
The concept of transport, which does not rely on power lines and thus surpasses trolleybuses, was proposed by Oerlikon company engineer Bjarne Storsand in 1946. It was he who realized that the electric motor can work on the generator energy and keep it inside the flywheel rotating at high speed.
For promotion of this flywheel were used charging stations, which met throughout the route. Girobus connected to them with the help of three rods and they spun the flywheel to 3000 revolutions per minute. This energy was enough for driving at a speed of 50-60 kilometers per hour for a distance of up to 6 kilometers. If there were few passengers, the transport could even drive 10 kilometers.
The size of the flywheel reached 160 centimeters, and the weight was 1.5 tons – to reduce the resistance, it was placed inside the chamber with reduced pressure and with a large amount of hydrogen gas. It took about 40 minutes for promotion of the stopped flywheel, but if it was active, 5 minutes were enough to fully charge. Due to the abundance of charging stations throughout the route, there were practically no problems with energy – for example, on the 4.5 km route from the Swiss city of Grandson to Yverdon-les-Bains, 4 charging stations were installed.
It would seem that, with all these advantages, the gyros were doomed to massive success, and today they have to drive around the city streets instead of trolleybuses. Unfortunately, they had several weak and even dangerous sides that forced people to abandon them. First, drivers of gyrobus often shortened their way along dirt roads, which led to the breakdown of gyroscopic bearings. Secondly, the engineers realized the danger of turning a heavy steel wheel – in the event of any part breaking, it could harm people. After all, the linear speed of the flywheel rim reaches 900 kilometers per hour, and if it comes off, the consequences can be extremely dire.
Because of the problems found, the production of the gyro was stopped. To date, there is only one version of this environmentally friendly transport of the last century – it is stored in the Flemish Museum of trams and buses in Antwerp. Some groups of engineers intended to create a new version of transport, but they did not succeed – in 2005, the University of Texas at Austin and the center for transport and the environment began to look for a sponsor, but they never found it.
Fortunately, today's attempts by companies to create environmentally friendly transport are quite successful. Not only that most of them have almost completely transferred to electricity, they also show an excellent ability to drive independently and consume much less energy than regular buses.
Did you know about the existence of gyros? What do you think of them? Share your answers in the comments, or discuss eco-friendly transport in our Telegram-chat.