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CarTube for London traffic? Some say it's too fancy to be realistic

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【Summary】London-based PLP Architecture Company puts forward the bold idea of digging a tunnel under London to allow the passage of self-driving cars.

Original Claire    Dec 16, 2016 4:10 PM PT
CarTube for London traffic? Some say it's too fancy to be realistic

Traffic congestion can be a metropolitan city's main problem. To solve this issue, government officials and experts are putting forward different solutions. We know that Hyperloop One is trying to build an above-ground tunnel connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Now a London architecture firm is releasing a blueprint of CarTube - an underground tunnel that automated vehicles could drive through.

In a recently posted three-minute video, London-based PLP Architecture Company puts forward the bold idea of digging a tunnel under London to allow the passage of self-driving cars. PLP thinks that the concept is "the fusion of two modes of transport, automated electric cars and mass transit." It further highlights the concept's high capacity, stressing that the stream of cars will transport passengers more efficiently, instead of waiting periodically for arriving trains.

In the simulation video, a vehicle, when approaching the CarTube, is turning on self-driving mode. Upon entering the underground tunnel, it will be put on a conveyor belt-like moving tracks, to automatically move at 50 mph without needing to touch the gas pedal. The distance between two vehicles will be two meters and they are locked into position on the moving tracks, so accidents and delays are also prevented.

The whole concept was brought up by Lars Hesselgren's research team at PLP Architecture. And the reason behind the moving track is to improve the city's transportation system.

"The real issue is control," Hesselgren explains. "Trains and tubes have controls; cars don't. Autonomous cars do, but they don't work well with pedestrians, cyclists and other unexpected elements. The only way you can have a high-capacity car network in a city is to have a dedicated track."

Sounds reasonable and creative enough, but the idea still gets questioned by many people. Taking London's real estate underground into consideration, the complexity of sewers, subway infrastructures and foundations will make CarTube very difficult to build. Plus, the constantly moving track will surely be costly. People are afraid that even when such modern paths are built, they might just be for rich people.

Founded in 2009, PLP Architecture has so far completed quite a few noteworthy projects. In 2015, it finished an office building called The Edge in Amsterdam, and was regarded as the world's most sustainable office mansion by the Building Research Establishment. And in June this year, PLP was granted permission for the 22 Bishopsgate project, to build a 62-storey tenancy office tower, which will be the tallest one in the city of London.

Although it's a fancy project, some say the root cure to road congestion is to decrease the number of cars on public streets. So why not ride a bike?

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