Every year, a greater percentage of the world’s population moves to urban areas (source), where traffic is becoming a huge problem. Inspired by the situation in her hometown of Bangkok, Kate thought wouldn’t it be great to fly above the smog? So for our ‘Fantasy Device’ in today’s first session of Physical Computing, where we were invited to invent something that does not exist (and might not be technically feasible), Kate and I came up with a magnetized scooter and rail system called MagRail. The dividing line would become a system of two magnets, and MagScoots would hover above them with a magnetized strip. We don’t know how feasible this is, and at this point we don’t really care. The important things are the MagScoots.
MagScoots are 2-person scooters with a magnetized strip at the bottom so they can hover on the MagRail system. They have a luggage container in the back that doubles as a seat for a second passenger. They have handlebars at the front and only one button with two settings: On and Off. When they are Off, the magnet is shielded and the MagRail’s powerful magnets have no impact. When they are turned On, the magnet is revealed and a light activates in the back so that they can be easily seen by other MagScoots. They have a motor in the back that propels the MagScoot forward at the same speed as all other MagScoots. They also have sensors on the top, bottom, front and back that detect when other MagScoots are nearby to avoid accidents during takeoff and landing. Takeoff and Landing (the transitional moments between Off and On) are the most important moments for MagScoots. During Takeoff mode, if sensors detect that it is safe for takeoff, the magnet shield flutters back and forth to gradually expose the magnet that will raise the scooter at an appropriate velocity. This flickering also impacts the light at the back of the MagScoot. During Landing, the shield flickers again to lower the MagScoot in safe increments. For more, check out Kate’s write-up on the MagScoot.