Future Lab News

TAKAHASHI: No.39 "Ultra Speed"

Hi there all you Wangan Maxi 3 players, it's design director Tetsuo here. ↑He's a Shiba, called "Su". A little while ago, I went to Shanghai on business.

I went to China many times during my student years, but I always picked the most secluded areas of the huge continent, so I had never seen the economic pride of China, Shanghai.
This mega city, with a higher skyscraper density than anywhere else in the world, feels like what Shinjuku would be like if the buildings spread out to the four corners of the earth.
A line of skyscrapers, over 400m high.

But this city is not just about buildings. There is also a really fast, unusual vehicle that you wouldn't have the chance to ride pretty much anywhere else in the world.

That's what it looks like. Looks like this. Just what is this? A monorail? A bullet train? No, no. It's an ultra-high speed dream-like linear motor car!!
It links Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Longyang Ru Station, and covers the 30km route in just 7 minutes, making it the fastest train on the planet. At over 430km/h, it has the fastest operating speed in the world, putting F1 cars to shame. You've got to try it, right!!

Apparently, magnets keep the linear train floating above the track when it is moving. I imagined that it would jump into the air when the magnets were turned on, but that didn't happen at all - we started up very quietly and smoothly. Even when we started moving forward, the running sound was really quiet. I thought that there might be some SF-like noises along the lines of Kwee! Kakakk!...
The inside of the train was really simple, almost the same as the Haneda monorail. It made me think things like: "The walls shine like computers in an old SF movie!" "The seats are made of some unknown ceramic-like pure white substance! But they hurt my ass!" "It's a train from the future!"
My imagination was running wild while I was on the train, but I did think that it was pretty amazing that this ultra-high tech train was just cruising along as if it was a normal city train. I felt that just as the electric train replaced the steam engine, soon the day will come when the linear train will take over from the underground.

The only thing which stood out in this remarkably unselfconscious train was the speed meter - one in each and every room.

In just a moment after we set off, the speed began to increase, reaching over 430km/h in the blink of an eye. You don't get to experience that kind of speed in land vehicles.
When I pressed up to the glass to see what sort of scenery there was outside, I was surprised to see that it was pretty normal! Our speed was far from normal, but it didn't feel like we were going fast because there were almost no buildings to be seen in the pastoral landscape around the linear rail track.
It's like when you look out a plane window when you're traveling at 800km/h - there's only sky outside so it seems like you're going slowly.

*Apparently, the human eye is quite poor at measuring speed accurately - when there is nothing nearby to compare with, it's hard to say whether you're traveling fast, slow, or whatever else. It feels like you're going slowly when there is nothing around you; conversely, if you're traveling near the ground or in a narrow space, even if you're not actually going very fast, it feels like you are. For example, when you drive a 50cc racing cart, it feels like you're going at over 120km/h even though your actual speed is about 60km/h. Basically, because you are moving barely above ground level, it feels really fast. You sometimes hear the expression "perceived speed" - I wonder what kind of standard that is measured against??
When there are lots of buildings around you in city sections in Wangan Maxi, the feeling of speed is much more pronounced - like you are really going over 300km/h.

So...those were my thoughts on the linear train...anyway, in the game centers in Shanghai, many, many Wangan Maxi fans were playing Maxi 3. As could be expected from the country that produced the Asian champion, the standards were pretty high.
Of course I tried my hand at VS Battle and got well and truly thrashed, don't worry. (about what!?)

OK then, that's about all for today. See you!

(Original article in Japanese released on 8.6.2008)

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