China tests maglev cars that travel at 230kph while floating 35mm above the road

China appears to be a leader in maglev technology and continues to find innovative ways to use it.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Maglev technology allows this car to levitate
Maglev technology allows this car to levitate

iStock/ IGphotography 

A car equipped with magnetic levitation (maglev) technology has been successfully tested on a highway in East China's Jiangsu province, according to an article by China Daily published on Sunday. The experiment saw a 2.8-tonne car float 35 millimeters above the road and run smoothly on a highway without crashing or veering.

Testing road design and safety measures on the highway

A second road test was also undertaken on the same day where the cars achieved speeds of 124 mph (200km/h). In total, eight vehicles were tested on a 4.9-mile (7.9-kilometer) section of the highway, with maximum speeds approaching 142 miles per hour (230 kilometers per hour)

Both tests were overseen by provincial transport authorities and had the purpose of studying road design and safety measures for practical high-speed driving.

The maglev car was modified from a conventional vehicle in a project developed by Chengdu-based Southwest Jiaotong University. The installation of permanent magnet arrays for levitation was among a few of the changes made to the vehicle.

In addition, the road was laid with a powerful conductor rail that allowed the car to levitate. Deng Zigang, a professor at the university, said he hoped the technology could help reduce energy consumption and increase the driving range of cars.

China may even now create a dedicated lane for maglev cars which could see further improvement to traffic.

A leader in experimental maglev technology

The nation seems to be the leader when it comes to maglev technology- introducing all types of maglev trains. In 2018, it was reported that the nation was testing a super maglev train that was expected to travel at speeds up to 621 miles per hour (1,000 kilometers per hour).

Then, in June 2021, the country debuted a new envelope-pushing maglev train on a 165-meter test track. Finally, in July 2021, China unveiled a maglev train designed to hit top speeds of 372 miles per hour (600 kilometers per hour), making it the fastest ground vehicle at the time.

And that's not all. Just last August, the nation debuted the world’s first suspended maglev line built with permanent magnets. A the time, the new development’s engineers boasted that it could keep a “sky train” afloat forever – even without a power supply.

The new train is an 800-meter experimental Red Rail located in southern China’s Xingguo county, Jiangxi province. It is equipped with powerful magnets that can induce a repelling force strong enough to lift a train with 88 people on board.

This new model is very different from most existing maglev lines as it operates about 10 meters above the ground and without any physical contact with the rail. This does not stop it from being extremely fast, achieving speeds of 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour).

The train is also highly efficient. Due to its unique free-floating conditions and absence of friction, it only requires a small amount of electricity to function. It also costs about a tenth of the price that it takes to build a subway.

With China consistently coming up with new and unique ways to use maglev technology, we can’t help but wonder, what will come next?