Superbus: A Student-Built Next-Gen Luxury City BusS

Riding buses may be efficient, but Dutch students are building something they call "The Superbus" to fix some of the minor problems like smell, speed, and number of weirdos. It's an all-electric, carbon-fiber-and-aluminum missile carrying 23-passengers in luxury at 130MPH.

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Shades of "The Cyclops" from the movie The Big Bus aside, the Superbus is a pretty interesting concept well along in the development cycle. The concept behind the Superbus is to take the crappy parts of bus travel out of the equation as a way to encourage people to switch to buses rather than stay in cars. The Superbus does this in a myriad ways, starting with the shape. Instead of a blocky behemoth you have to climb up into, the Superbus uses a low-to-the-ground chassis with sixteen independent gullwing doors, making it convenient for everyone to get in and out of without hassle. When they're on the bus, they'll be moving with some significant speed. The big stinky diesel engine is gone, in its place is a block of lithium-polymer batteries feeding a pair of electric motors running at 400 HP nominal and capable of 800 HP peak power.

Maybe the most important parts are the convenience and comfort the Superbus affords. The idea is to have no set route, instead people who've bought seats on the bus can call or text a pickup time and location and the bus will show up. Likewise you point it to a destination and it maps out the most efficient way to move all the passengers through all the destinations. As you're on the move, you'll be doing it in complete comfort, the carbon fiber shell is being filled with a coachbuilt interior with plenty of legroom arranged like a train with two rows of facing seats and a working space in between, high-volume air conditioning and hopefully no baked in pee smell. That last one is worth the cost alone.

Superbus: A Student-Built Next-Gen Luxury City BusS


The project is headed by Prof.dr. Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut and a professor at TU Delft, Dr. ing. Antonia Terzi who came from BMW-Williams Formula 1 racing where she was involved engineering and was a senior aerodynamicist, and Joris Melkert MSc, an aircraft man who's also done work on the NUNA 3, the world's fastest solar car. With those folks in place and a team of students working under them, they've completed the design validation, tested the rough chassis, and have begun fitting out the carbon fiber components for a demonstration vehicle. Though they claim operating costs and fares needn't be much higher than current fares, they hope to market the product to cities like Dubai (which might be a pipe dream considering Dubai's plummeting fortunes) or other places with high-density and people looking for better mass transit. (Hat tip to Wichard)

[The Superbus Project]

(P.S. If you want a good laugh, hit their site, go to the "Concept" section, click on "2008 Test Vehicle" and be transported back to a time when parachute pants were king.)