SPM Maglev: Reinventing Maglev Transportation

Engineers at LaunchPoint Technologies have been working with Applied Levitation and Magnovate Technologies to develop a completely new, revolutionary mode of maglev transportation.

Thus far, most major magnetic levitation implementations have been "maglev trains;" basically a nineteenth-century mode of transportation with twentieth-century technology grafted on. These systems were not incremental improvements of existing infrastructure--they required completely new guideways constructed on new rights-of-way at tremendous cost.

SPM Maglev Scale Model
SPM Maglev Scale Model
(Click to download video)

If the railroad metaphor could be abandoned, however, and a maglev network designed from scratch, then dramatic improvements could be realized in operating characteristics and system economics. Applied Levitation was founded to do just that.


SPM -- A New Paradigm for Maglev

Applied Levitation's Stabilized Permanent Magnet (SPM) suspension technology (U.S. Patent #6,684,794) provides capabilities that were not previously possible and at a lower cost than any other high-capacity approach.

    • Low capital cost--SPM maglev guideways can be built, mile for mile, for about the same cost as one lane of freeway with twenty times the carrying capacity.
    • Easily integrated--Existing rail and subway systems can be easily retrofitted with SPM maglev capabilities, enabling incremental upgrades of an aging infrastructure.
    • Fast switching--SPM maglev technology uses instant magnetic switching with no moving parts which enables more efficient routing of computer-controlled maglev vehicles.
    • Network capability (Mag-NetTM)--With SPM maglev technology and instant magnetic switching, transportation networks can be developed to route traffic in much the same way as information is routed over the internet.
    • Highly scalable--SPM maglev technology can be used with smaller, lighter vehicles for more efficient passenger transportation, or with bigger, heavier vehicles for the transport of freight.

SPM Maglev Group Rapid Transit

SPM maglev technology will permit incremental upgrade of our current rail and subway systems. By installing SPM guideways on the same ties as existing tracks, with one maglev rail outside each of the existing steel rails and a motor rail down the center, SPM maglev vehicles can operate simultaneously with standard rail and subway vehicles. As a result, existing rail and subway cars can remain in operation as we gradually replace them with new maglev vehicles that cost less and perform far better. This capability avoids the need to completely overhaul our current infrastructure at tremendous cost.

Click image to download video

Cross-section of Maglev Rails
with Standard Train Rails

SPM Maglev Personal Rapid Transit

At the other end of the mass-transit spectrum is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). With the advent of SPM maglev, maglev PRT will have all of the advantages of wheeled PRT, with similar costs, but lower mechanical complexity, lower maintenance requirements, much higher speed capability, and a much broader range of applications. Maglev PRT is the future of public transit.

SPM Maglev PRT

SPM Maglev Freight Transport

SPM maglev is well suited for freight transport due to its efficiency, speed and flexibility. The video below shows a dockside facility, where container ships can be unloaded or loaded directly from/to maglev flatbeds. From there the flatbeds could transport containers to nearby marshalling yards for transfer to railcars or trucks, or could carry them via long distance maglev connections to other parts of the country. Facilities of this type would speed up harbor freight operations, slash energy costs, and totally eliminate harbor air pollution normally created by railroad and truck operations.

Click image to download video

SPM Maglev Development -- Past, Present, and Future

  • Phase 1 - Develop and test permanent magnet suspension on full-scale vehicle (Completed 2006)
    Two million dollars in funding was received to construct a full-scale laboratory prototype vehicle and short section of track to verify the fundamental advantages of our newly invented magnetic levitation and linear motor technologies over competing designs.
  • Phase 2 - Develop and test electromagnetic stabilization technology and instant magnetic switching (Completed 2008)
    Partial funding was received from Fastransit, Inc. of New York to help build a scale-model maglev train and tabletop circular track with switching capability. The full SPM Maglev technology was successfully implemented in this phase with LaunchPoint Technologies' Senior Systems Engineer, Geoff Long, taking the project from concept to full working prototype in just under 6 months.(Download Video)
  • Phase 3 - Full-scale implementation
    In the final development phase we will construct a full-scale test track and maglev vehicle in preparation for commercial installation in selected regions.

For additional information or to inquire about investment opportunities, please contact Jim Fiske (jfiske@launchpnt.com).