back to article Dutch astronaut unleashes 155 mph 'Superbus'

A Dutch former astronaut is hoping the future of public transport could be a 250 km/h (155 mph) "Superbus" - a 23-seater electric beast stretching an impressive 15 metres (49 ft). Wubbo Ockels, who flew as a mission specialist on Challenger's STS-61A mission back in 1985, has worked with a design team from the TU Delft …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Looks like...

    Batman's Limousine.

  2. MJI Silver badge

    Dedicated roads = trolley system

    Solves the battery issue.

    Why not run it on metal rails and return via the rail - oh thats a train!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not a bad idea

      Put it on rails. As it is designed, it should be able to run on current rails at the high speed due to it's low weight and low drag. Just switch the wheels and put a bunch of them in a line. It would sacrifice the ability to stand up and walk around, but it is much cheaper alternative than having to build a dedicated engine and rail system.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    So it's a high speed, multiple passenger transport system that requires a special, dedicated, road.

    Erm, isn't that the definition of a bloody train?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Because a train can also drive on any road and thus deliver me to my destination at the other end.

    2. HW de Haan

      The big difference between a train and this thing is that you will not see a train step out of its rails to come and pick you up. The reason why it likes a dedicated road is because regular traffic has a hard time handling a 15mtr 155mph passer-by.

      1. FrancisKing


        Because the whole basis of an effective public transport system is that you collect a large number of people at one place, not that you go around picking people up all over town.

        The latter already exists, where a minibus picks people up from their front doors, and it is an economic failure - it costs too much, is tool slow, and picks up too much subsidy.

    3. Daniel von Asmuth


      It would be a train if you chain a lot of these wagons together under the control of a single driver.

    4. Manu T

      RE: Erm...

      It only requires a "special dedicated road" because of its width and speed. You can't drive 250km/h on the same road where normal traffic operates within city limits (50km/h).

      But otherwise it seems fit enough for normal roads. So the only requirements is a wider road, no rails, no dedicated electric system just simple concrete. This is much cheaper than classic trains, trams and trolleys.

      I think this is indeed a good idea. And it looks great too.

      Not to mention it seems much safer than current busses. I mean in cars seat-belts are obligatory but in busses and trams they're nowhere to be seen. Hypocrite governments.

      1. Marvin the Martian

        "works also on normal road".

        Right, I'll see you at the other end of our highstreet. Or not, as you'll get stuck on 2-3 roadbumps at the same time. You know, the ones buses can drive over because they're not so lowly built for speed.

  4. Fogcat


    Where does the luggage go?

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge


      You leave her at home.

      Er. Better run!

      1. Mr Grumblefish

        Cutting edge humour

        keep it coming!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Get on the short, fast electric bus to the special destination!

    Of course, the TRUE idiocy of this scheme is that instead of building a special superbus highway, you could probably build the high speed rail line they canceled a few years back along the same route ... for a higher capacity, less travel time, better through connections (Amsterdam - Leeuwarden - Groningen - Bremen - Hamburg and on) and ultimately, less environmental cost (since not even a high speed train has to carry weighty battery packs composed of all kinds of icky materials only the Chinese would mine due to environmental regs elsewhere)

    Also, home pickup - obviously, the builders haven't ever driven anything larger than a compact around a residential area either - cramped streets, tight bends, lotsa wrongly parked cars ...

    Hand grenade, guess why ...

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Local connections

      If a bus gets through these tight bends, then so does this bus.

      I think anytime there's suggestion of dragging Groningen into civilisation, there's another waste-money-quick scheme. It's a small city surrounded by nothing, miles and miles of empty nonproductive nothing: only those stuck there remain, what's the point of improving transport links.

  6. Frederic Bloggs


    It has a future in the stretch limo market. It even goes at the correct speed and is just as manoeuvrable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's just missing one thing

      A hen party.

      1. Marky W
        Thumb Up

        Hen party

        I'm curious to see what happens when the brides pissed-up, topless friend stands up in the sunroof at 155mph holding a glass of lambrini.

        It's got 'youtube classic' written all over it.

  7. a53


    Can't see it working in London.....

    1. Paul E


      whack a bendy bit in the middle. Sorted.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Stretch Limo's

    Totally agree with comments above - If it needs a special road - then its better to use a train or run this on magnetic rails (mag-lev). Likewise, no luggage - not sure what the need is for this.

  9. The Beard

    15 Meter long Minibus

    So it seats 23 people, that isn't a bus it is a mini bus. So a 15M long minibus with what looks like no cargo space and needs special roads to reach its high speeds and one assumes fancy electrical connections at each end to top up.

    Yeah that sounds like a great idea?!?

  10. Flugal

    Antonia Terzi

    "According to chief designer Antonia Terzi, former chief aerodynamicist of the BMW-Williams Formula 1 team..."

    Mmmm, that'll be the person responsible for the walrus-toothed Williams FW26: Something of a low-point in Williams F1 cars:

    "The team redesigned the front end of the car in time for the Hungarian Grand Prix and fitted the car with a more conventional nosecone. This helped bring an upsurge of competitiveness to the car and gave Montoya a needed boost."

    Let's hope this bus is a little better.

  11. xj25vm

    Utter bollocks

    Some people seem to have no connection with the real world at all:

    1. At 15 meters, it is longer than a double-decker bus (11 m). One carries 23 passengers, another about 80. Hmm, tough one.

    2. At 155mph, by laws of physics, it will not be an efficient mode of transportation - due to high friction at high speeds.

    3. How the devils will this be of any use as a public form of transport, when it is so long? What will it do on normal streets, in normal cities, with normal bends, corners and junctions?

    4. The idea of being picked up from home is another good one. Do you fancy traveling in a "bus" that goes all over town, and stops every 5 minutes to wait 10 minutes in the street at every stop for Joe Blogs to wake up, kiss his misus and lock the house?

    Oh yeah, they can keep whatever they are smoking.

    P.S. - if they wouldn't have mentioned "public transport" and "bus" - just call it a fast limo - they would have stood a chance. Then again, all limo's I've seen go slow in order for the gits inside to stick their various body parts through the windows and sunroof(s) and make a racket. You hardly need a 155mph electric machine for that sort of entertainment.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      They (didn't) have me at the doors...!

      In addition to agreeing to every point above, Gull wing doors are completely incompatible with public transport. Also, regarding point two, it requires special roads too.

      They would have been far better off, at least in the European transport link, to hire a conventional coach company or setup a train link.

      This is just a rich Arab's toy.

      Madness that any investor would spend money on technology like this while already demonstrated superlatively beneficial technologies, which make even fusion look like a pointless dream, already exist in the form of Thorium Molten Salt Reactors. The Chinese are racing ahead with this technology while the West pays for all of it by consuming tons of rare earth elements for electric batteries, consumer and military electronics and pretty much anything in a modern lifestyle, almost all from China of course.

      What an upside down world.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Anteaus

    Oh bollards!

    I can forsee those doors getting bashed to pulp rather quickly, thanks to the EU's past schemes to line the edge of every pavement in Europe with a million iron spikes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so much a bus

    an a MPV with delusions of grandeur

  14. Uncle Slacky Silver badge


    ...nothing to do with the French rock band of the same name?

  15. TakeTheSkyRoad

    @needs a special road...

    From the site.... "Driver assisted controlled on existing roads, autopilot on Supertrack"

    So it CAN run on a special road if you want the autopilot working but I'm guessing they aren't at the point of trusting this on normal roads yet so there they specify a driver.

    I like the basic idea but this will only work for a select few and isn't UK friendly. Premium transport for the elite who don't want to drive or employ a driver themselves. "Pickup at the mansion in the hills... drop off at the golf club please"

  16. Code Monkey


    They want the United Arab Emirates as the first customer outside Europe? Well full marks for chasing the money. Marks off for targetting a place as "petrol on yer cornflakes" as Texas.

    It's not all bad: defeinitely the prettiest minibus I've ever seen.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Sweet love

    Listen to you all, heaven forbid someone actually tries something different. Yet at the very sight of a prototype all the ill-informed commentards are out in force nay-saying and predicting doom and destruction.

    If people had listened to folk like you we'd have no technology at all.

    "who needs one of those cars when my horse does me just fine and I can fill it up in the local meadow"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you've missed the point

      People here are, clearly, not against new technology. Most if not all of us love the *good* new technology. Don;t think that all new technology is good.

      To use your analogy, it's more like "I think the horse has had it's day, I think we should tie 500 kittens together and use them instead".

      Not really an improvement, like this current proposal. It's not being new that's the problem, it's the profoundly obvious stupidity of the new idea.

      1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Even the bad technology is sometimes good..

        There have been several projects that cost a lot of money, apparently failed, yet can still be considered successes in hindsight.

        Look at the APT (British Rail's Advanced Passenger Train). That was criticised at the time, but we learned from it, and there are various trains all using elements of it's technology very successfully.

        Even if this bus is a failure, as long as they learn from any mistakes, it could be a good thing.

    2. Sean Baggaley 1

      It's one thing to have an open mind...

      ... but quite another to have your mind so open that your brain falls out.

      This project is right up there with the Chinese "Super Bus" (or, as I like to call it, given that it runs on rails: "Tramzilla"):

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Good tech vs. bad tech

      This "Superbus" is a solution in search of a problem, not the other way around.

      Good technology finds a problem and solves it by inventing an efficient solution.

      Bad technology finds a solution and then tries to invent a problem to justify its need.

      Feh. I'll stick to my original point: they would better have poured the development funding into seed capital to build the Northern High Speed Line rather than pay for this turkey.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Good tech vs. bad tech

        *That's* what's missing! NFC enabled tickets that automatically opens the doors.

        Include that and you've got every bullshit tech solution looking for a problem in one place.

  18. Paul 666
    Thumb Down

    formar astronaut I see...

    obviously his brain has been starved of oxygen at some point in time.

    One Epic Fail!!!

  19. Chris_B

    "Hi can you pick me up?"

    Where do I live?

    Oh, in a Cul-de-sac


    Hello? hello ?

    Great for transporting overpaid Footballers on the motorways though.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's a Bus

    Enough said.

    For further hearing, listen to The Divine Comedy's National Express.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about

    Small cars made to latch onto something like this, with low range electric motors.

    The biggest problem is intelligent routing and getting passengers onboard, if the pods could latch on people could have their own environment and security like a car and get dropped off a few miles from their destination. They could charge at the same time as travelling and at the mini stations, which could just be a bit of tarmac with auto docking power points and internet access.

  22. peyton?

    Not like a taxi

    So, when it comes to pick me up, and I've just managed to crawl out of bed... about how many honks do I get before it leaves without me, so as not to make everyone else late?

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But does it have....

    But does it have...

    A bowling alley?

    The flags of all nations?

    The ability to change a wheel while rolling?

    A single enormous headlight?

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "Eat one lousy foot...

      ...and they call you a cannibal!"

      Classic movie - not shown on TV very often, though.

      Watch out for broken milk cartons and candles...

  25. farizzle
    Paris Hilton

    you all are missing the point...

    It's MonoRail 2.0ooooohhhh!

    PARIS, because even SHE knows it's not how long it is that matters :D

  26. Aleph0

    A bomb on wheels

    I'd like to see a crash test at full speed. A vehicle of this mass at 250 km/h must be able to do some serious damage, the amount of kinetic energy it carries is staggering.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dead before it starts

    >This service will be yours for a fare which is comparable to the prices of present day’s public transport

    So too expensive then

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I actually sort-of like the idea.

    Whether it'll *cough* fly is another thing entirely, of course. But it sure does look pretty, and it's a fairly interesting take. The thing itself might work really well for VIP transports, reducing the number of individual cars needed. Not so sure on the public transport angle. It sounds a bit like car pooling with strangers in a bigger car. Even the (nice!) big comfy chair^Wseats won't protect you from excessively smelly fellow travelers. And toilet stops might have to be scheduled, but since the scheme hinges on a lot of automated planning support anyway that might be put in too. You can't actually move much while underway so no toilet like in coach buses. Do recall though that early trains had doors for each compartment so gullwing doors for each seat aren't that strange. Given that the "mitfahrt" thing works reasonably well in Germany, this might fit in there for starters, then spread out. They do have a lot of nice autobahn already.

    Not too worried on the separate road thing, because with sufficient road smarts you can dual-purpose them for "electronic road trains", where cars might team up to drive nice and quick with clearance too tight for human reaction times, so computers will have to do. That's something we've been toying for ages and should combine well with this sort of idea.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it just me?

    Or did they just import a photo of an Opel GT into Paintshop Pro, and then stretch it out?

  30. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Thunderbirds are GO!

    1. Peter Ford

      Re: FAB

      My thought too, but in Thunderbirds it would be nuclear-powered...

  31. henchan


    It looks similar to a prototype vehicle from Keio University that I saw five years ago at Miraikan in Tokyo. Kaz has a top speed of 370 km/h.

  32. Sureo

    Dedicated road?

    I'd like a dedicated road too to get me to the grocery store. I'd be glad to share it with these guys.

  33. Allan George Dyer

    El Reg Units?

    "electric beast stretching an impressive 15 metres (49 ft)" - so what's that in double-decker buses?

    Anyway, it's not a bus if you have to bend over to get on. Why do "luxury" vehicles so often make entry and exit so difficult?

  34. druck Silver badge

    Cambridge Guided Bus Way

    See title

  35. RumBugger

    Wubbo Ockels

    Crazy name, crazy guy!

    I once borrowed €5 off him to pay for parking. A few days later, I paid him back!

    Happy days...

  36. bkcokota
    Paris Hilton


    Hate to make a stupid comment, but it doesn't seem particularly wheelchair friendly, hell will freeze over before they make a public transport system that doesn't account for the disabled.

    Paris because I'm sure even she could come up with a better idea than this (which is saying something sadly).

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