I've been looking at some proposals to try to reduce the time that an airliner's main engines are run at idle or near idle when taxiing to and from runways--a situation that uses non-trivial amounts of fuel and greatly increases local emissions.
I've seen proposals for fleets of tugs and onboard wheel motors, but I wonder if there might not be a simpler way. Why not use a continuously moving cable system, such as that used by San Francisco cable cars? Simply run a cable in a trench in the center of a taxiway, and have a means of attaching to and detaching from this cable as a way to tow aircraft down a taxiway and to the end of the runway. I don't know the details, but I do know cable car designers figured it out more than a century ago, so surely it can be done.
Similarly, one might also utilize a roundhouse system to rotate aircraft to the proper position to pick up the cable. Again, roundhouses have been used with trains for well over a hundred years, and locomotives are quite heavy. Clearly one would need ways to slow the cable speed at termini, but this is done on high-speed ski lifts. Some means of "clutching" to buffer a sudden application of force would also be in order--but again, think of the cable cars, or steam catapults/deceleration cables on aircraft carriers. It's been done. Surely it can be done in this context.
What's not to like? The benefits of reduced fuel consumption and emissions are obvious, and it beats a flotilla of tugs, by eliminating empty return trips, logistical hassle, and large numbers of staff. Also likely beats an onboard motor system, on weight, cost, and complexity. There are tons of reasons to do it.
Seems obvious to me. What are the arguments against it?