Glide Craft Mass Transit System
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A mass transit system utilizing buoyant craft intermittently propelled by water jets that are activated when craft are in dose proximity, within interconnected sections of “U” shaped canals/channels that can be pre-manufactured and delivered via heavy truck. Individual craft can be directed by rider via interactive signage along route or if empty by computer via sensors in canal walls. Bar code readers track craft location at all times. Water in canals is recirculated with pumps that pull water from the area just in front of direction of craft movement, thus creating a temporary fast moving forward water motion. Merge points similar to a freeway entrance ramp are made possible by hydraulic wheel guides that are activated when the rider chooses course. Embarking and disembarking stations at various points can be entered or exited without traffic stops. Adjustable safety bar at each seat.

Osborn Jr., John Clifford (Tampa, FL, US)
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Osborn, John Clifford (Tampa, FL, US)
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
What is claimed is:

1. A rapid transit system comprised of, sectional U-shaped water filled channels with metal channels embedded face in on both interior sides, un-motorized buoyant craft with unique elevator like guide wheels, a plurality of intermittent water jet pumps controlled by a plurality of electronic proximity sensors which pull water from just forward of craft and propel from behind, hand activated interactive signage that allows rider to determine direction, submerged rollers connected to a standard automotive type disc brake on the exterior of the channel, worm gear roller assembly at elevation inclines, bar code readers for craft identification and empty craft transfer to station, fast release hydraulic directional guides that allow smooth transitions and merging.

2. A rapid transit system as set forth in claim 1 which includes, unique station design where bridges and overpasses are not needed to enter and leave station, canal layout with no 90 degree intersections, using only merge points and transition splits.

3. A rapid transit system as set forth in claim 1 which includes, glide craft un-motorized buoyant transport unit, easily adjustable safety bar for each seat, unique electrical brush system to power standard climate systems, radio, and emergency panel, fixed radio panel where rider may choose category of music and station is determined by transit authority contract, water energy collection areas at rear and indented into flat bottom, energy absorbing front and rear bumpers, unique wheel guides provide smooth ride and cornering, shrouds at wheel guides reduce water drag.

4. A rapid transit system as set forth in claim 1 which includes, a master command and control system computer, regional computer at each station can operate independently in times of emergency, automatic backup generators for all computers and separate generators for electrical operations such as pumps, lighting, and security applications.



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1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to mass transit systems and particularly to those employing waterways for conveyance of the vehicles.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Mass transit systems are common in the art and are quite varied; however many have common ground and are represented by U.S. Pat. Nos. 566,182, 1,159,519, 1,601,483, 3,404,635, 3,498,234, 3,807,806, 3,830,161, 3,837,285, 3,853,067, 3,854,415, 4,063,517, 4,643,268, 4,690,064, 4,781,119, 4,828,099, 4,841,871, 4,964,496, 5,138,952, 5,199,358, 5,359,941, 5,473,233, 5,558,023, 5,592,883, 5,669,308, 5,669,470, 5,671,681, 5,720,225, 5,775,227, 5,797,330, 6,065,405, 6,070,533, 6,167,812, 6,169,954, 6,202,566, 6,272,999, 6,302,030, 6,490,980, 6,668,729. Over the years, many inventors have tried to solve the problem of convincing riders to board trains, buses, or trolleys. Although logic insists that mass transit is both good for the country and the neighborhood, both time and convenience stand in the way for the potential riders. Municipalities have become reluctant to build new systems in part because current conventional mass transit alternatives are expensive to build and ridership as an overall percentage of commuters is low, regardless of incentives or penalties. This reluctance is particularly noticeable in relation to the less conventional alternatives such as elevated mono rail systems and elevated personal rapid transit systems (PRTS) as they are unproven in the eyes of the municipal bodies who must answer to the taxpayers. Clearly the automobile has solved many of the issues we had during horse and buggy days, however, with the rampant spread of the automobile has come a host of problems that we have yet to address. The target of mass transit is to reduce the amount of resources required to transport commuters while encouraging auto owners to choose mass transit and thus reducing the congestion on existing conventional roadways and various auto related pollution concerns.

Clearly most existing mass transit types are durable, predictable, time consuming for the rider, as well as inconvenient to connect. Even PRTs (Personal Rapid Transit) only solve part of the riders' issues with mass transit. Taking a page from the automobile, we have learned that people desire transportation means where the individual has control of several key aspects of the commute. The first is choice of riding companions. You could bring a friend or ride alone. The second aspect is convenience. You could embark on a journey when you want without waiting. The third is choice of direction. Control of the direction of the vehicle one travels in is almost a god given right for any American. A bus, train, or trolley all follows a route that frequently takes the rider on a longer journey than is desired. PRTs have the first two concerns addressed, however current PRTs address freedom of direction via complicated computer equipment that at the user level would be subject to abuse and subsequent breakdowns. This invention does not have computers the in vehicle, reducing the possibilities of vandalism and sheer wear and tear on keyboards and pads. Interactive signs used with this invention do not require the rider to touch anything. A simple wave under the sign activation arrow allows the rider to choose a course. PRTs known in the art acknowledge the need for individual vehicles to persuade riders whom possess the means to choose other alternatives to mass transit. These PRTs predominantly employ a relatively delicate elevated guideway with the individual vehicles that require costly massive computer coordination to achieve the desired results. These massive computers are coupled to relatively complicated computer coordination panels within the expensive vehicles. The standard self-propelled feature of PRT prior art causes an unacceptably large maintenance issue for transit authorities. This invention has glide craft that can be returned without riders to specifications via adjustable bar codes on each craft. This invention also uses water jets embedded in the channel bottom and thus eliminating the need for an onboard motor and the associated maintenance headaches.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 4,063,517 notes that water channels were loops where one must stop at a station and change craft to change direction. This invention has merge and transition areas where the wave of the riders hand activates an interactive sign which signals the rider's choice of direction and a hydraulic wheel guide lifts or lowers to allow for the instruction. This allows channels to cross each other without bridging or requiring a means to regulate stop and go traffic.


This economical mass transit system addresses the needs of both the transit authority and the rider. It offers freedom to guide the vehicle anywhere within the grid without stopping or transferring to another vehicle. In order to make the system cost effective, the command and control computers and all electronics are built into the infrastructure as opposed to the vehicles themselves. In order to further reduce the initial as well as ongoing maintenance costs, the glide craft vehicles do not have motors on board. It was much more efficient to use intermittent water jets from the floor of the channel. From an overall operating cost standpoint, reducing the water movement to only those areas that have glide craft present reduced estimated overhead costs substantially. It was achieved by drawing water from a few yards in front of the craft, transporting the water to the pump and jetting it out in behind the craft, propelling it rapidly forward. With a number of water inlets and jets in the bottom, the craft is smoothly propelled forward.

This personal rapid transit system empowers riders with the same choices a person with an automobile would have. First, a choice of a fellow rider or the option to have no other riders in the same vehicle. The second choice is convenience. You may arrive at the station ready to go and embark without delay. Third aspect is control. Riders demand to guide vehicles in the direction of their choice. This system uses interactive signs to relay the riders' direction choice. The rider simply waves his/her hand under the sign as the vehicle passes indicating a desire to turn at the next transition point. Once a vehicle begins to travel in a particular direction, the rider need do nothing as the craft will default to forward and travel will feel as smooth Cs glass.

One of the most important aspects of an economical mass transit system is the initial cost to construct the system. This system is comprised of sections that can be mass produced at an assembly plant and placed on a flatbed semi to be trucked to the placement site. Construction of miles of channel line con be placed and installed in a fraction of the time that would be required for conventional construction utilizing in place pours and on site forming.

This invention also brings adaptability to a new level as it con use mini under passes at existing multilane highways. This feature raises the existing highway elevation a couple feet and pushes utilities down a few feet without changing their paths. The sectionalized channel is also versatile in that it can be easily be detoured around areas of major repair or closure for whatever reason.


FIG. 1 is Channel elevation depicts channel on level ground surface and section breaks.

FIG. 2 Channel elevation depicts decline and subsequent incline and placement of water in channel.

FIG. 3 Channel elevation depicts lightweight overpass of existing roadway.

FIG. 4 Channel section depicts location of typical water jets and pump location.

FIG. 5 Channel section depicts complete channel section with placement of glide craft vehicles one in each direction.

FIG. 6 Channel top view depicts water flow among sections of channel.

FIG. 7 Channel seal section depicts seal alignment along wall and base.

FIG. 8 Worm gear assembly depicts tolerances and materials required to provide grip during inclines.

FIG. 9 Channel wall section depicts standard electronics and electrical connections.

FIG. 10 Electrical belt tensioner depicts relationship between edge of glide craft and electric contact on top of channel wall.

FIG. 11 Channel seal section depicts how seals are mounted inside base of channel bottom and is typical of walls also.

FIG. 12 Glide craft front view depicts wheel guide placement as well as the shroud that reduces drag on the vehicle.

FIG. 13 Glide craft rear view depicts water energy capture system as well as the energy absorbing bumper.

FIG. 14 Glide craft top view at wheel guide level depicts drag reduction shroud between wheel guides.

FIG. 15 Hydraulic intermittent wheel guide channel depicts mechanism to allow craft to merge into one channel or to transition away from a particular channel.

FIG. 16 Compound hydraulic intermittent wheel guide channel depicts mechanism to allow craft to cross into one channel or to transition away from a particular channel.

FIG. 17 Glide craft elevation depicts entire craft with location of safety bar, roof, seating, water capture features and shrouds.

FIG. 18 Roller brake elevation depicts method to raise/engage rollers when brake is needed.

FIG. 19 Interactive sign section depicts location of sign, electronics, and ease of control for relaxed rider to wave hand under activator.

FIG. 20 Wheel Guide assembly depicts tolerances of wheel verses rollers.

FIG. 21 Glide craft bottom view depicts indentations in otherwise flat bottom that help to capture water jet energy to propel glide craft forward.

FIG. 22 Channel wall section at informational sign depicts necessary information to navigate the system, usually just prior to an interactive sign that may need a rider response.

FIG. 23 Radio/AC/Emergency panel elevation depicts the choices available to riders for music. Each choice has only one station per music type and is determined by contract with the transit authority. AC where available and fan otherwise. The large emergency button summons the police similar to a direct phone call would. The craft is tracked electronically and police may arrive directly where the vehicle is at any time.

FIG. 24 Mini over pass sectional view depicts a method to allow multilane existing roadways to pass over channel with minimal impact as existing roadway would rise approximately four feet to allow clearance.

FIG. 25 Station layout plan view depicts merge points and transitions necessary for a four direction station. Each direction has an incoming and outgoing channel. A large station such as this has two station bays located inside the loop with one in each major direction.

FIG. 26 Radio, AC, Emergency elevation depicts the location within the glide craft of the radio/AC/emergency panel.

FIG. 27 Safety bar assembly elevation depicts the many adjustments that can be used.

FIG. 28 Safety bar top view depicts bar layout and handgrips.

FIG. 29 Safety bar front view depicts handgrip depth.

FIG. 30 Transition point plan view depicts relationship between various sensors, interactive signage, and water jets below.

FIG. 31 Merge point plan view depicts relationship between various sensors, roller brakes, and water jets below.


Referring to FIG. 1 Glide craft buoyant vehicles 19 carry passengers through a“U” shaped concrete channel 83. The channel is formed by connecting a plurality of segments with flexible seals 21. Referring to FIG. 2 The glide craft vehicle 19 can traverse elevation inclines smoothly using a worm gear incline roller assembly 24 and using a roller brake 23 glide down declines at a pre-determined speed. Referring to FIG. 3 Glide craft vehicles 19 are relatively light in comparison to cars or trains and use considerably less materials when supporting a span 25 over an existing roadway or railway. Referring to FIG. 4 A channel 13 is a “U” shaped steel reinforced concrete structure that has two “U” shaped stainless steel channels 33 embedded that support and direct the wheel guides 7. One channel or lane is provided in both directions of any route. Both are formed together in sections about 3 times the length of a glide craft vehicle 19 and transported to the job site for assembly. Referring to FIG. 5 Channel section 13 and 14 run in opposite directions and are joined at the middle. Any number of configurations con be installed on the glide craft 19 roof 5. This model is not enclosed, but could be for areas of frequent inclement weather. A safety arm 2 pulls down over occupant and a rubber covered adjustable safety bar 12 is easily adjusted by the rider to his or her comfort level. In addition, a protrusion 4 extends out from the side of the glide craft 19 to cover electrical connections 1 that supply power to a radio and climate control devices on board. The fiberglass shell 103 of the glide craft 19 is filled with buoyant expanded bead foam. The wheel guides 7 have play in them on all sides to allow for changes in water 9 height.

Referring to FIG. 6 Water flow direction 58 shows that water is pulled from the forward part of each channel section and transferred through a water line 57 to the rear of each section when a glide craft 19 passes through the vicinity. A heavy-duty water pump 56 pushes water through the jet nozzles in the bottom of the channels and against the glide craft providing rapid forward motion. Once a glide craft 19 has completely cleared a channel section, the pump 56 turns off.

Referring to FIG. 7 The channel sections 13 and 14 are fastened together with flexible Neoprene seals 48 that have the ability to expand and contract as the channel material reacts to the climate. The seals 48 are held in place with stainless steel hardware 47 and seated in stainless steel angle 46.

Referring to FIG. 9 The glide craft side 32 has a protrusion from the body of the craft at the top that serves several purposes. First, it holds the bar code mechanism that rotates to show the vehicle status to the computer. Second, it provides a horizontal surface to mount the electrical spring wheel assembly 41. Attached to the bottom of electrical assembly 41 is copper mesh belt 40 that maintains contact with the electric pad 39 that runs the length of the channel. The bar code scanner 27 is mounted to the outside wall 37 of the channel 13 and has a rubber shroud 26 to increase reliability of readings. The rubber shroud also is equipped with weep holes 38 at the bottom of the shroud to avoid moisture build up that could affect the operation of the device. Close to the top of the channel wall 34 and embedded within is the position sensor 30. The position sensor 30 bounces a signal off the reflector 31 activating speed and direction control devices. On the outside channel wall 34 is an indentation slot 35 that carries cabling for all electronics attached. A waterproof cover 36 fits neatly over the cables.

Referring to FIG. 10 The copper mesh belt 40 is held in place by a spring tensioned 42 roller 44.

Referring to FIG. 11 The seal 48 itself sits on a lubricated base plate 53 has the materials that comprise the channel sections expand and contract pressure is evened out and wear on the seal is minimal. Cover plate 51 has slots at each fastener point 50 to allow for expansion. Firmly attached to the concrete base 11 of the channel section edge is the stainless steel angle. All areas where concrete is used will be painted and or waterproofed to avoid deterioration of the material.

Referring to FIG. 12 Looking at the front of the glide craft 19. Hydrodynamic shrouds 18 shield the wheel guides from excess drag. Referring to FIG. 13 The rear of glide craft 19 has three areas 65 designed to capture energy from the water jets. Each area acts like a cup and thus provides enhanced forward motion. Separation fins 75 and lip 74 also help capture the energy from the rapidly moving water. Protruding from the back of the glide craft 19 is a rectangular bumper. The bumpers purpose is to reduce impact of collisions due to backups at stations where some congestion may occur.

Referring to FIG. 14 In between the four wheel guide assemblies 17 are additional foam filled shrouds 62. These shrouds 62 serve to keep the water drag to a minimum for the rear set of wheel guides.

Referring to FIG. 15 Hydraulic lift unit 104 pushes attached wheel guide support 85 upward providing a seamless wheel guide channel 33 in areas where the rider indicates via the interactive signage that he/she wishes to transition to another channel. They are also used for merge points where no input from the rider is required or optional. The computer will decide based on traffic level, speed and proximity to the merge point which glide craft 19 will proceed first and others that approach the same area will be slowed to merge maintaining a predictable headway between each vehicle. Each hydraulic unit 104 is equipped with a fast recoil spring 87 which speeds the response time of the unit and allows the reduction of headway during peak hours of operation. Referring to FIG. 16 This hydraulic unit 104 is essentially the same as the one in FIG. 15, except it has an additional wheel guide support 86 welded to the top. Its purpose is to provide multi-directional capability in areas where wheel guide supports 85 may cross paths. This is particular to station entrances and exits 59.

Referring to FIG. 17 The side profile of the craft shows the location of the door 68 and the safety arms 2. Each safety arm 2 has an adjustable safety bar 12, which is lowered 67 into place when the rider is seated. Indentations in the bottom of the craft 64 capture water energy from water jets in the bottom of the channel and do not impede roller performance.

Referring to FIG. 8 To facilitate smooth elevation changes in the channel sections, neoprene rollers 44 make smooth even contact with the bottom of the craft 42. To provide predictable movement, all rollers in an incline assembly rotate at the same speed via a worm gear 43 attached to gears 45 at the end of each roller 44.

Referring to FIG. 18 Intermittent roller brakes 23 located at various points within each channel are lifted upward in the channel if a glide craft 19 is in need of being slowed or stopped due to traffic ahead. The unit remains in a non-contact position until activated. Once activated, the unit rises to contact a specific craft. Wide neoprene rollers 44 are attached to spring tensioned arms 78 which are in turn attached to sprockets 105 and chains 106. Each chain 106 is tensioned by a sprocketed chain tensioner 77. The chain 106 is connected at the other end to sprocket that is directly attached to a sprocketed axle extending through the channel wall and a water seal finally attached to a standard automotive type disc brake 79 mechanism.

Referring to FIG. 19 The interactive sign 82 allows the human rider 91 to relay his/her choice of direction. The hand sensor 89 detects the presence of a hand and relays a signal to the hydraulic channel guides 84 thus the glide craft 19 follows the desired course. The interactive sign also serves as an informational sign, thus reinforcing the informational signs that are placed a distance before the decision point interactive sign 82. It is a lighted digital sign that can be changed from the master computer station.

Referring to FIG. 20 Each of the four wheel guide assemblies consists of two rollers on top 15, two rollers on the bottom, and one guide wheel 16. The wheel guide frame 17 made of light weight, heavy-duty aluminum is strong enough to never fail under normal channel conditions. All wheels in the wheel guide assembly 17 are neoprene with heavy-duty bearings.

Referring to FIG. 21 The bottom of the glide craft 42 is smooth to avoid impeding the roller brake and incline roller assemblies. To facilitate water energy capture, indentations in an alternating pattern are placed in rear of the craft where other water jet energy is captured 65. The pattern is alternated to retain strength in the bottom of the craft structure.

Referring to FIG. 22 The informational sign 88 is a lighted digital sign that details what can be expected ahead and provides a road map of destinations. Like the interactive sign 82, the informational sign can be changed to reflect current conditions within the channel.

Referring to FIG. 23 The radio/AC control panel 93, has a standard climate control system or a fan button if vehicle is not enclosed. The unique concept radio has category buttons 96 that once pushed plays only one local station that a contract with the transit authority. Also on the panel is an emergency button 98 for 911 services.

Referring to FIG. 24 The roadway underpass elevates the existing roadway several feet making a small incline for the existing roadway and standard utilities are lowered several feet, allowing the not very tall channel to pass under without obstructing any traffic. The underpass would easily meet weight requirements for even heavy trucks as vertical steel ‘I” beams 101 attached to horizontal steel ‘I” beams 101 and braced with triangular steel 102 would then be attached at the base concrete 11. Appropriate steel webbing would solidify entire structure.

Referring to FIG. 25 The station and general channel layout has channels that go in both directions from all four directions. Smaller stations may be comprised of less pieces of similar layout. All channels merge to or transition away from one another. Merge points 61 are places where two channels going in the same direction become one. This merging is an automatic function of the channel and is computer controlled using sensors carefully placed in the channel area to maintain headway between the glide craft 19. Roller brakes 23 are present at all merge points 61 to help regulate the flow of vehicles. As a vehicle nears the station, it encounters a decision point interactive sign 82. Passing a hand under the sign activates the hydraulic channel guides 84 that transition the craft from the main channel and into a secondary channel allowing it to enter the station or to reenter the main channel after the next decision point interactive sign 82. The loading and unloading area 59 has multiple channel clocks where any number of craft may be waiting for peak time traffic to occur. The size of the station and the waiting area is a function of the need in that particular area of the city. When the destination is several stations ahead, the human 91 occupant may sit back and the vehicle will default to straight ahead at decision point interactive signs 82.

Referring to FIG. 26 Seat 95 placement of the craft is opposing and in between is the radio and A/C panel 93. This panel contains an emergency 911 button and carries a notice for the rider to keep children from playing around it. The top of the interior sidewall is approximately the height of the underarm of the average American while the floor 94 of the vehicle is also a distance from the top of the seat 95 to provide maximum comfort to most riders.

Referring to FIG. 27 The safety arm 2 has many adjustments 69 that may be used manually by the human 91 rider. The arm is designed to accommodate the largest number of people in the general population and con be moved via a pivot 71 upward sixty-five degrees 63 from level and approximately thirty-seven degrees 70 downward from level. The safety arm is mounted 72 just in back of the seat 95.

Referring to FIG. 28 The adjustable safety bar 12 is coated with a pliable rubber cover 73 that will help the rider avoid injury should the vehicle come to an abrupt stop. Referring to FIG. 29 The adjustable safety bar 12 provides ample room for anyone to grip the bar and adjust it as needed

Referring to FIG. 30 The decision point interactive sign 82 has a barcode scanner 27 and a position sensor 30 just prior. Water jets 55 are placed at various areas where forward motion may stop or be slowed dong with normal placement to keep the traffic moving.

Referring to FIG. 31 Merge points have many position sensors 30 close to the channel guides 84. In between are roller brakes 23 that con slow or stop glide craft 19. A barcode reader 27 just beyond the merge point keeps track of craft order.