Well this came up on my news feed today, researchers from Aoyama Gakuin University have found a new way to provide propulsion for Maglev vehicles (And turbines).
From the article:
Video from the article:Magnetic levitation is central to the fastest trains we know today, but it's that dependence on electromagnets and rails that limits how and where it's used for transportation. Aoyama Gakuin University has a unique alternative: changing the material properties themselves. By floating graphite over a bed of circular magnets, taking advantage of its tendency to generate an opposing magnetic field, researchers can move the graphite just by blasting its edge with a laser. The heat skews the magnetic behavior of that area enough to unbalance the graphite, either in a specific direction or a spin. The research team believes it could lead to maglev transportation or even energy converting turbines that are steered solely by light, with no contact or outside guides: maglev vehicle pilots could have much more control over where they go. Getting to that point will require a much larger scale, but successful development could give technology a very literal lift.
This seems like a fantastic development to me, if it is more cost effective, and efficient than traditional Maglev propulsion (Traditional maglev propulsion, article 1, article 2, article 2 is more in depth) then it could revolutionize the way we view transportation (Big IF I know, I just would really like to see Maglev rail lines replace old traditional rail lines eventually, and this could provide another way to do that)