Several forms of novel suspension systems for passenger-carrying vehicles are currently being investigated throughout the world. Most of these, however, are aimed at high-speed, intercity transport systems, and comparatively less development work has been undertaken to provide a new form of low-speed system for urban-transportation. The possibility of using controlled direct-current electromagnets for low-speed (up to 70 kph) vehicle suspension has been explored in this paper. This system, also known as ferromagnetic or attraction suspension system, offers a very attractive combination of design simplicity, low operating and maintenance costs, high reliability and virtually silent operation. This system is also considered to have capital costs comparable with alternative forms of urban-transport systems and could be designed to fit into the existing fabric of cities and towns. The feasibility of the d-c system is illustrated here through analytical and experimental results of the ride and track-clearance characteristics for a single-degree of freedom suspension system. These results are used to formulate a procedure for designing a multimagnet vehicle suspension system. Main design and performance criteria for maglev vehicles are discussed in the context of experimental results obtained from test vehicles. Engineering aspects of some of the system components have been presented with a view to evaluating their suitability for low-speed systems.

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