CNN coverage of RUF on March 10 2001

Edited with permission from CNN

Palle R Jensen

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KELLAN: Commuters praying for relief from awful traffic may one day see their spirits lifted and their cars, too. A Danish inventor has devised a monorail system that could be used by passenger vehicles and which could completely change the way we think about getting around.

More from CNN technology correspondent Rick Lockridge.

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RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might want to remember where you first saw this see-through electric car with a triangular slot up the middle because if Copenhagen inventor Palle Jensen is right, vehicles like this one will save our overcrowded cities from the traffic that's choking them and lift commuters from their daily despair.

PALLE JENSEN, RUF INVENTOR: Would it be possible to make a system in-between cars and train with advantages from the car world and advantages from the train world?

LOCKRIDGE: So, he designed the RUF, r-u-f. In Danish, it means in a hurry. In English, it stands for Rapid Urban Flexible. RUF cars and buses are just like any other battery-powered vehicles, except for that middle slot. That's what'll enable them to ride the four-meter high monorail, where they will link up to form small trains.

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Once off the monorail, RUFs can take you all the way to your destination, and that's important because Jensen believes many people will never use mass transit until it's as convenient for them as their personal cars.

JENSEN: It takes into account the human nature. You don't want to be moved together with a lot of other people at a fixed time table. You're more spontaneous. You suddenly have a need to be moved.

LOCKRIDGE: And not only will RUF move you, Jensen says the monorail will recharge your battery and give you a high-speed Internet connection while you're riding on it. Transfer on and off the rail will be totally automated. Proposed RUF buses will have individual doors for all 10 passengers and will drop off those passengers on rolling ramps like these, so no one can get run over.

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If it seems like Palle Jensen has already thought of an answer to any question you might ask about safety, convenience, reliability, he has.

JENSEN: I don't think there will be any problems with people accepting this. On the contrary, they will have a beautiful view, and they will really enjoy the trip.

LOCKRIDGE: On a chilly morning outside Copenhagen's main technical college, a prototype RUF glides onto a steel I-beam, grasping it firmly between rubber wheels. Every component of the RUF has been tested, and the project has a long list of corporate backers. But the one thing the RUF system doesn't have yet is a city willing to commit about a billion dollars to build it. Several are considering the idea, including Copenhagen.

JACOB WINTHER, SPOKESMAN, CITY OF COPENHAGEN: We're following the tests and are fond of what we're seeing, but it's a very big -- it's a huge project if you have to integrate it in a city like Copenhagen.

LOCKRIDGE (on camera): The inventor says he dreams of installing the first RUF monorail right here in Copenhagen. But, he says, if a Mexico City or a Seattle comes up with the money first, they'll be the first to get one.

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(voice-over): What's important, Jensen says, is that people embrace an entirely new way of getting around, one which combines the convenience of personal cars with the efficiencies of mass transit. It'll be good for the environment, he says, and also, good for the soul.

JENSEN: Get to your work completely relaxed instead of coming stressed from the highway congestion.

LOCKRIDGE: How many commuters would agree, that's reason enough to raise the RUF.

For SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY WEEK, I'm Rick Lockridge.

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