An idea for travelling without fuel

When I was in high school, I came up with an ingenious idea for travelling without fuel. While everyone was thinking about what changes they could make in the vehicle (like solar powered, water powered, etc) I chose to think out of the box (mostly because the other options were too technical 😛 )- I thought if we could make roads like below, we might be able to travel without fuel!

idea for travelling without fuelWhen you are coming down in a mountain, have you noticed that you need not switch on the vehicle, and it comes down automatically due to the height (and consequently force of gravity) & momentum.

When a vehicle just starts to go down, its slow. But very soon, if it keeps going down, it picks up a lot of momentum and travels very fast – you don’t even have to start the engine! If you leave it uncontrolled (without applying brakes), the vehicle could speed up amazingly.

So, I thought, why not apply this principle to plains as well? In my above diagram, (where roads are constructed as shown by the black lines), if a car (without starting its engine) starts from point x1, it would move by itself till the point x2. It would also gain a lot of momentum, if the distance is considerable. Now, when it reaches x2, there needs to be a relatively steep slope going upwards. The car now uses the momentum it has gained in the downward journey and goes up automatically and reaches the point x3. Then again, there is a downward (long) slope, and again an upward (steep) slope…

The car (or any other vehicle) might travel like this without ever switching on its engine! Of course, there are lot of calculations to be made as to what is the best distance, what is the best degree of slope etc, but those small things could be calculated by the physicists and mathematicians. Its the concept which is more important! Back then, I was expecting a Nobel prize in physics for this. I still do 😀

What do you people think?

Destination Infinity

PS: There is another concept that I conceptualized (during my high school) to make an internal combustion engine work with two different sizes of stones (without petrol or diesel). But that I am not going to share 😛

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27 Replies to “An idea for travelling without fuel”

  1. I remember my husband using this technique while coming back by motorbike from Bangalore to Hosur in the mid 80’s. The roads used to be empty in those days! It was smooth sailing…!

        1. Well, there – the hosur to bangalore route went up and more fuel was spent for the upward journey, and that’s why the lesser need for fuel while coming down (back). But in my case, its just plains – we make the up and down roads. So, without spending any fuel, I am wondering if we can just travel like that!

          Destination Infinity

          PS: There is a difference between just free TV & free TV coming along with price rice, cable tv costs etc…. 🙂

  2. I love travelling down a hill in 2 wheeler like this. I remember travelling in a scooty to marudhamalai hill with my cousin, and while coming back, I did not start the vehicle’s engine until Bharathidasan univ…the thrill it brings is extraordinary!!

    1. But you spent more fuel while going up no? But in this case, I am wondering if we could just travel in the plains without expending any fuel at all…

      Destination Infinity

    1. There are many other problems as well – the ride would be very bumpy (to say the least), you cannot stop somewhere in the middle and just take off, without starting your engine, maximum vehicle speed that can be attained, if heavy vehicles can run like this, etc. But I expect others to solve all the problems.

      Destination Infinity

    1. We lose control because the vehicle is picking up a lot of momentum. Its that extra force (along with gravity) that I am trying to use while propelling the vehicle forward in plains.

      Destination Infinity

  3. A good idea BUT
    dangerous to drive without the engine on and in Gear you see when the car is in gear that provides Friction and it helps to break faster .. If you have the engine off and try to break it takes longer to break..
    and if the car is in gear breaking is easier 🙂

    1. Exactly. Only if it goes really fast it can climb that steep slope. But I am not sure if it can happen at all – someone needs to do calculations and confirm me!

      Destination Infinity

  4. Rajesh (Destination Infinity),

    I am not sure if you are serious or it is a fun post. Assuming you are serious, here are flaws in your theory:-

    1. To start with what makes X1 at the height. Why not X1 is on ground and you have to against gravity? Let us how does the box come back from X6. How does it climb back?

    2. Consider mass of the box. Depending on the mass of the box and friction on the ground, it may not even go down due to gravity. If the media (ground) has friction, the box may stop on the way or lose the momentum so much it may just stay on the bottom part.

    3. Assuming it retains motion, mathematically it will be less than the force it had to come down so it will not reach X3 unless X3 is not too above ground. If to reach X3 it requires a lot of force and it does not have , it will roll back….

    Most likely you will have Pendulum…try a rock with a string and just give little force in direction in the air and it will stop pretty soon…..

    I enjoyed Physics…so I took it seriously…just to refresh my knowledge….:))))

    1. 1. The starting point X1 is on the ground, and the point X2 goes underground. There should have been another point X7 which goes back to the ground – I did not complete it!

      2. If the roads are smooth, and no breaks are applied on the vehicle, I don’t think the vehicle can stop – at least on the downslope.

      3. Its very much possible that the vehicle rolls back to X2 before reaching X3. Its a critical flaw, unless someone comes up with the required mathematics.

      Have you seen this sport – Skateboarding, where people keep moving on a surfboard kind of equipment with wheels attached below it… In one form of the game, they move in a ‘U’ shaped (almost) surface, and they keep moving up and down on one side, and then up and down on the other side.

      If multiple such ‘U”s are placed next to each other (side by side), its possible for the people to keep going from one ‘U’ to another for even a few kilo meters. This one is similar to that. But gaining the required momentum is crucial, and someone needs to calculate and tell me if thats possible! No way I am claiming this is perfect!!

      Destination Infinity

      1. 1. Roads cannot be 100% smooth. There is always some friction.

        2. About skateboard, people put force on skate board to move up.

        Cars and other engine apply the force to counteract friction and go against the gravity if required.

        1. The upward slope would definitely be a huge challenge – no doubt! I wonder if mathematics could solve that problem by giving the most optimum length and angles for a road like this! I am somehow not able to accept that it cannot work 🙂

          Destination Infinity

  5. Hey DI.. this one can just be a theory, not practical.. 😛

    I remember someone was giving this concept to the Govt and this came to our college for review (Im from Automobile Engg background). We had a lengthy discussion about it and came to a conclusion that it is not possible. As you said there were lot of technical details in it.. 🙂

    Some of the points that were simple, when you need to apply brakes, the vehicle will lose all the momentum that propels it. Also when you need to start the vehicle at the uphill point (say X2) you need force till you reach X3 . Also to start the vehicle from idle, you always need a force.

    1. Maybe we can use the existing automobiles (with engine) to go on these roads, and use the engine power where ever required! 🙂 It sure has got a lot of technical things to consider, but the possibility thrills me!

      Someone can do a small model that has a circular path like this and check if a small toy car can keep moving on that!

      Destination Infinity

    1. Actually I don’t mind people copying this idea… at their own risk 😉

      So, you read science magazines? Good…

      Destination Infinity

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