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Inventors hope to get green light for electric highways

A TEAM of inventors is hoping to collaborate with a Scottish ­university to develop a radical green transport concept which would see cars run on electrified highways.

HIGHWAY PLAN: Caroline Jones Carrick is behind concept that would see cars under control of a computer.
HIGHWAY PLAN: Caroline Jones Carrick is behind concept that would see cars under control of a computer.

Caroline Jones Carrick and her father Will Jones are planning to forge links with academics working on long-term ways of combating road congestion.

Their idea of tracked electric vehicles (TEV) is already being welcomed in India, which is home to around 100 million cars and has serious problems with traffic gridlock and pollution in its cities.

Ms Jones Carrick says TEV offers a potential solution to ­problems of congestion and pollution, as under the control of a computer the vehicles could move at high speed close together and emit considerably less carbon.

She said: "I think Britain, and Scotland in particular, has a fantastic history of creative transport development. That great innovative spirit and attitude makes it the right place to work with universities and develop something as transformational as TEV.

"But also we think that what we would bring to the universities is this opportunity to come up with something that is really going to solve a huge problem.

"Britain is not going to grind to a halt tomorrow, but what is it going to look like in 50 years? That's what we want to shape. We want to be looking that far ahead to future generations and to be figuring out how are we going to make transportation work for them."

She will be approaching a number of Scottish universities in the new year, including Napier University in Edinburgh. Its Transport Research Institute works with the European Union as well as individual governments across the world.

Ms Jones Carrick, of Prestwick, South Ayrshire, is spearheading the campaign to raise awareness of the TEV project, while her father Will, who lives in the United States, is a mechanical engineer and works on the technical side.

His US-based company ­Philadelphia Scientific designs batteries for industrial use. The idea of electric roads might sound futuristic, but Ms Jones Carrick says much of the ­technology already exists. The system works by creating new purpose built roads that would continually power electric cars, removing the need to stop and recharge them.

Models of electric and hybrid vehicles would have to be slightly adapted to allow them to run on electrified bars embedded in the track, but the cost of construction per passenger mile would be lower than conventional highways as they can be built using modular components.

On the electric tracks the system is driverless, with a computer taking over the controls of the cars, but on normal roads the vehicle can be driven as usual.

The project came in the top 100 entries at this year's A World You Like Challenge, a green transport competition held by the European Union's Commissioner for Climate Change, and was also shortlisted for a Parivartan transport award in India. Ms Jones Carrick and her father have been asked to attend the Indian Roads Congress, a body set up by India's transport ministry to explore solutions to traffic congestion.

They will attend its meeting in January next year, where they will meet senior Indian politicians.

Professor Tariq Muneer, of the Transport Research Institute at Napier University, said he thought that the use of electric cars would be among the first steps to be taken in developing countries to reduce C02 emissions, but he said he would be interested to hear more about the TEV project.

He added: "The technology being used [by TEV] is called ­telematic and they have been experimenting on this type of thing in the United States for some time. Personally I feel it would be a big jump for India as the first thing that will have to arrive there is electric cars."

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