Linear motion: New patent addresses maglev stability

A developer and manufacturer of linear synchronous motor products and systems used in assembly automation, material handling and transportation applications, has been awarded a U.S. patent related to magnetic levitation (Maglev) systems. The MagneMotion patent builds on a prior patent for using one magnetic structure to provide suspension, guidance and propulsion of vehicles on a guideway, eliminating a level of complexity and costs found in other maglev systems. Link to video.


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Acton, MAMagneMotion Inc. , a developer and manufacturer of linear synchronous motor (LSM) products and systems used in assembly automation, material handling and transportation applications, has been awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,448,327 related to magnetic levitation (Maglev) systems. The patent builds on previously issued Patent No. 6,983,701, which recognizes the company's use of a single magnetic structure to provide suspension, guidance and propulsion of vehicles on a guideway, eliminating a level of complexity and costs found in other maglev systems.

See a MagneMotion control concept video.

The company says its new patent expands on the initial patent in 2 primary ways. First, the magnets in the single magnetic structure are offset, thereby providing lateral stability; and second, control coils are wrapped around the offset magnets to stabilize and maintain the magnetic gap when the vehicle is levitated. When combined, the inventions are said to improve ride quality, reduce the cost of the vehicle and guideway, and simplify the control system. In applications where small vehicles can be deployed, the new invention may eliminate the need for a secondary suspension to provide lateral damping, which, the company says, would add weight and cost to the vehicle, and would likely increase vehicle height and raise its center of gravity.
The company plans to use technology addressed in both patents on it's current maglev development project, which is a cooperative effort with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Old Dominion University (ODU). During Phase I of the project, the company plans to build and test a 160 foot track at it's corporate headquarters in Devens, MA. During Phase II, it plans to build a 500 foot track on an existing maglev guideway structure at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. The company's design envisions Maglev vehicles that are the size of a van or small bus that can accelerate quickly to a target speed of about 100 mph (161 km/h). The test system will operate at a lower speed as the guideway at ODU is designed for a maximum speed of 40 mph. The company says that, despite incorporating smaller-sized vehicles, by having numerous vehicles in operation simultaneously and under constant, accurate control, the system could accommodate as large a ridership as other designs.
"The technology advancement embodied in this patent is put to practical use in our FTA Maglev development program and represents a critical leap from our existing technology demonstration system to a full scale, fieldable technology", stated MagneMotion chairman, CTO and Maglev pioneer Dr. Richard Thornton. "With successful completion of this effort, maglev technology will [move] one step closer to realization and practical use in the United States. MagneMotion is proud to be at the forefront of this critical technology development in the U.S. in cooperation with the FTA and ODU.”
The company schedule calls for its maglev test system to become operational in summer
C.G. Masi , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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