Welcome to the Sunglider
The next »unicorns«, according to Black Rock's Larry Fink, will not be social media or search engines, but rather disruptive start-ups that develop solutions for abandoning fossil fuels and make the energy transition affordable for everyone. We agree and believe that the Sunglider developed by Dieter Otten and Heiner Gerbracht has the potential to become Europe's next unicorn.
It is the first means of transport since the invention of the wheel that supplies itself with solar energy and generates more than it consumes. This unicorn runs on "fairy dust" (photoelectric drive) and makes a significant contribution to decarbonisation. The Sunglider doesn't cost money it earns money. With the sun. Doing so, the Sunglider makes the energy transition more affordable and attractive for the citizens of any city.
Revolution in public transport
Today's public transport is hopelessly outdated. It has lost touch. It has become unattractive. It is economically ruinous and cannot afford what the citizens would need to leave their cars at home: real zero tariffs. So something new is urgently needed to happen. Electric cars are not the solution.
Revolutionary metros in technology and concept are needed for medium-sized cities and their surrounding areas. No tram (too old-fashioned), no underground (too expensive). We need to rediscover and to reinvent the good old suspension railway on level +1. Let’s think "Uberground".
A metro for the last mile
In addition to the +1 lines, the Sunglider metro also supplies ground traffic on the »last mile«. Small autonomous KATOS buses will be waiting at each stop to take passengers to their destinations free of charge. Or they can be picked up by KATOS. One push if a button in the Sunglider app is all it takes to make a KATOS come around.
However, if you prefer to ride a bike, the Sunglider Metro offers smart e-bikes, which will also be waiting at every stop. You can also use your own bike - and take it with you. But you don't have to do that, because at every destination there is a well-maintained and charged e-bike waiting for environmentally conscious bike owners. The e-bikes can be booked via the Sunglider app. The Sunglider is the true ally of eco-friendly passengers.
A metro without waiting
A good metro is not long in coming. The next train has to arrive within 5 minutes. This is a big challenge for the controlling of the Metro which can only be solved by powerful »artificial intelligence« (AI). The Sunglider metro uses an innovative AI tool based on IBM Watson. That is the virtual controller, the "conductor" software of the metro. The »Sunglider Conductor« software ensures that gliders and buses are always optimally timed. They will always be "just in time". Nobody will have to wait longer than 5 minutes - not even at night.
On the other hand: If there is no need, gliders and buses will not run. The AI learns when exactly to deliver and when not. During idle times, the »Sunglider Conductor« creates space for Sunglider-Cargo traffic. In addition, the AI controls the stops and takes care of the automatic maintenance of the Xylo-Solar Route by using small repair robots.
The Sunglider Metro has the most advanced public transport vehicles in the world. The vehicle system is a further development of the revolutionary, crowd-designed, autonomous shuttle bus »Olli«, which is produced by Local Motors in Chandler, AZ/USA. The Sunglider shuttle version is called KATOS (=below) and carries up to 12 passengers.
The vehicle is not a vision. It has been manufactured in a highly revolutionary way since 2016 (see additive manufacturing). On the road, it is powered by four 20kW electric motors and moves autonomously on pre-mapped routes with a fully functional Level 3+ system, dynamic obstacle avoidance, emergency stop and manual takeover capabilities, and a sensor configuration for a maximum field of view. Sunglider passengers use the vehicle where it is available or book it via the Sunglider app.
The bigger sister of the little KATOS is the glider »PANOS« (=above).
PANOS is 8 meters long and is a people mover for 25 to 30 passengers. The PANOS also runs autonomously with a customized AI version of KATOS, because controlling a driverless suspension railway is much easier than doing so on the ground level. PANOS has a revolutionary photoelectric drive (see FE drive).
The wheel assessment of the PANOS is taken from a co-development of the outstanding wheel-assessment-technology of large roller coasters and is driven by sixteen 20 kW motors. The wheel optics taken from the KATOS serve as a noise blimp, which guarantees a whispering driving noise thanks to the proactive noise suppression technology the metro uses!
The Sunglider freight vehicle called "CARGO" is a transport glider for courier, express and parcel-logistics (CEP). CARGO is 8 meters long and can transport 20 Euro pallets. It preferably operates during off-peak times (also at night due to the whisper drive).
The CARGO glider should be an alternative or a replacement for the growing number of small courier, express and parcel trucks. CEP logistic companies may use the Sunglider stops as distribution centre for the last mile of (bicycle) delivering during the day. Each stop will also have an automatic parcel pick-up station.
In fact, the Sunglider stations & constructions are a sensitive intervention in any cityscape. In order to increase acceptance, the architecture must be sustainable, appear transparent and look like organic forms. That is why we see the main components of the elevated railway, the pylons, as avenue trees, or better as metaphors for avenue trees, carrying the railway's loads with their outstretched arms. That gives the pylon construction a very special charm.
All pylons are made of glued laminated timber, a material that has been used for decades for wonderful, large and elaborate wooden constructions (see the EXPO 2000). All pylons consist of identical individual parts that can be quickly assembled, set up and replaced. This is how the Sunglider route is created as an avenue of tree pylons that form the Sunglider’s typical »Xylo-Solar-Route«. (from »xylos«, Greek = wood).
The solar roof
A Xylo-Solar-Roof, also made entirely of glued laminated timber, towers above the pylon avenue like a giant treetop. The roof covers the entire route by 6 meters and will be made of open honeycomb patterns that emphasize the character of the roof as a treetop. However, the roof is not designed to be rigid. It adapts to the respective conditions of the streets and can also be narrower or wider than 6 meters. The solar roof owes this flexibility to high-performance, parametric computer tools.
The main function of the roof, however, is to be used as the metro’s solar power plant over the entire length of the route, to convert sunlight into electricity - and to power the Metro photo-electrically.
The Metro gliders have a stop every 700 meters. The stops are small »island-stations« where the PANOS gliders dock stably at the security doors. The stops are usually to be found at the crossing points of the streets. The stops are covered by the solar roof, too, and assure a significant contribution to the metro’s energy generation thanks to their larger surface area. The outer walls of the stops are designed to mirror the surrounding architecture and make the construction »disappear« somewhat behind the facades.
Each stop is designed to be barrier-free thanks to innovative, cost-effective and functionally stable elevators. The mobility hub will be located under each platform, where KATOS and e-bikes await the passengers. The CEP pick-up stations for citizens are also located in the metro’s Mobility Hub.
The »photo-electric« fuel
The solar power plant of the Sunglider route consists of hundreds of thousands of PV modules. They have an output of 250 MW or 340,000 HP, which corresponds to the output of 4000 VW Golf cars (85 HP). This massive amount of energy is the metro’s photo-electric fuel, the "fairy dust" the Sunglider runs on. A special highlight: the (direct) current is generated directly where it is consumed i.e. by the eight 20 kW direct current motors of every vehicle. That is why the Sunglider does not need any expensive inverter technology.
The vehicles' super-capacitors are directly charged by induction at every stop. There is no vulnerable overhead line. No loss of energy, either. A welcome side effect of the solar roof is the free street lighting, which we imagine as light bands in the ground.
The solar system on the roof of the Sunglider Metro is a remarkable power plant. Under climate conditions of 2018 in Osnabruck, it would generate about 211,000,000 kWh of electricity. This would correspond to the power consumption of 65,000 four-person households in Osnabruck (source: www.co2online.de).
The estimated energy balance of the Sunglider above shows: all vehicles including e-bikes, the stations and the street lighting consume all about 180,000,000 kWh. That is 31,000,000 kWh more than the metro needs. This amount of electricity the operator can sell. With a price for the kWh of € 0.35 (in 2030), this results in an annual income of € 10,850,000. The revenue from the sale of CO2 certificates, however, is not included here.
With its photoelectric drive, the Sunglider can look at a remarkable ecological balance. The amount of CO2 saved is as expected about 120,000 t a year, the savings in nitrogen oxide (NOx) are surprisingly high (1031 t). Other ecological advantages are obvious, but difficult to quantify: Better air quality, higher biodiversity, fewer accidents, more shade in those cities that are warming up due to climate change, more water under the solar roof, newly conquered urban space and much more!
One item, however, can be quantified very well: the value of the CO2 certificates, the proceeds of which for 2030 are estimated in the chart above at a cautious €150.00/t.
The three-dimensional (3D) printing of goods of all kinds is referred to as »additive manufacturing«. In this process, automatic printers add the material to a work piece layer by layer; the printers "add up" so to speak, and continue to do so until the product is completed. Additive manufacturing has many positive effects. Among other things, costs and production times are drastically reduced.
The Sunglider vehicles will all be printed fully automatically and controlled by AI computer algorithms. The printed parts and components are assembled by hand and by small robots. All vehicles are printed from natural composite materials and are 100% recyclable. Sunglider vehicles are not scrapped, but shredded and then reprinted.
We call this qualitative leap in industrial manufacturing »Industry 5.0«. Robots, 3D printing and networked machines are revolutionizing production everywhere. Instead of transporting goods at great expense, only data are exchanged digitally and globally, from development to production. This allows Sunglider to manufacture the vehicles on-site, in micro-factories no larger than traditional workshops, with no supply chains. The PANOS, KATOS & CARGO vehicles are produced and serviced at home in small numbers, cost-effectively and according to requirements.
They are also serviced in the micro factories. The supply of raw materials and materials is primarily solved through recycling. This saves a huge amount of energy and resources and it leads to very low manufacturing costs for the vehicles and a very small ecological footprint at the same time.
Drastically falling manufacturing costs, low costs in the construction of the route, new construction forms, the latest developments in elevator production, further falling costs for PV modules and intelligent solutions for energy distribution, all this leads to amazing system-investment-costs per mile that are significantly lower compared to trams and 10 times below the investment in urban subways. At the same time, the operating and maintenance costs are lower than with any other public transport system in the world thanks to the massive savings in energy and personnel. This is offset by financial potentials created by the selling of 30,000 MWh of power to the market and the sale of CO2 certificates.
All this is unprecedented – not only in public transport. If you add the income from the cargo business, from merchandising and the sale of third-party tickets, you can prove that the Sunglider can really offer a zero tariffs transport system and still earn money.
The first step
Over the distance of approx. 3 miles, we aim to install a fully functional pilot route in Osnabrück on Martini Straße and Kurt-Schumacher-Damm. The roads connect Osnabruck's Neumarkt and the district of Hellern. We plan to hand it over to the Osnabrück public utility company for commercial operation and maintenance. The two streets are excellently suited for such a pilot installation, as the above vision of Martini Strasse in 2030 proves (created by Peter Kuczia). To do so, we necessarily have to carry out a feasibility study that has already been subsidized with 50% of the total costs by the state of Lower Saxony.
We consider the financing of the pilot construction to be sustainably viable after independent auditors will have provided a full proof of concept and after the federal funding under the relevant German public transport support legislation will have been successfully obtained.
Sunglider in the media
Neue Osnabücker Zeitung
Sunglider Exhibition @ Galeria Osnabrück
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Designer of the Year - NY Product Design Award
Dear Sunglider AG,
It is our pleasure to inform you that your work is a symbol of excellence within the design industry. At the end of our thorough assessment, we have found your work to surpass expectations, as your insights for the present and the future are perfectly materialized in your work. As such, in light of our findings, it is our privilege to declare you as an NY Product Design Awards Designer of the Year winner within the Automotive & Transport - Others category.
On behalf of the NY Product Design Awards, please accept our heartfelt compliments for your astounding achievement, placing you in the eyes of the world to be celebrated. We wish that your brand continues to flourish within the industry and eventually conquer greater heights in the near future. It is our deepest hope that your proficiency continues to grow, for you to be elevated even higher as a paragon of excellence.
Thank you for your participation in the awards. We certainly hope to have you with us again, as you dazzle us with your ingenuity in another cycle.
NY Product Design Awards | International Awards Associate (IAA)