The futuristic modes of transport do not only exist in science-fiction movies; they already take place in our world and will soon shape how people commute, work and live.
Since 1886, when Karl Benz created a ‘vehicle powered by a gas engine’, the car industry changed drastically. From vehicles powered by gas, petrol to finally hybrid and electric cars. Thanks to technology, the driving sector is transforming travelling and improves people’s lives. New modes of transport make commuting quicker, safer and more comfortable. However, the future of transportation is not just about safety but also about upgrading and launching a new era.
Hyperloop trains, flying or walking cars, self-driving scooters or vehicles transforming into different forms – are they a new generation of transport? So far, futuristic vehicles have been seen in sci-fi, but the recent development in emerging technologies, like IoT, AI and LiDAR, as well as Cloud computing, is turning traditional vehicles into autonomous cars and making fiction a new reality.
What types of transportation are we likely to use in the future?
Many people wonder what transport will look like in 2050, but the new innovative forms might begin even earlier. The upcoming types of transport will require new and better sources of energy as well as physical and technological infrastructure. Advanced technology and electrification will form the future of transportation.
1. Autonomous helicopter
The autonomous industry will be a danger for the current automobile, resulting in the largest and most dramatic transformation since its creation in the 20th century. Autonomous aircraft is the future of mass transportation. Flying taxis are definitely a dream of everyone rushing in big cities and wanting to avoid traffic jams.
Uber and several Chinese businesses are investing in this rapidly developing transportation technology. The reality of flying cars called ‘Spinner’ will be a scene from a Blade Runner film and everyday life. The Uber Elevate startup is planned for 2023.
In 2017, Aurora Flight Sciences, a company focused on aviation research, demonstrated a completely autonomous military helicopter that can also be controlled remotely. Year later, Airbus accomplished a test flight of Vahana, a self-piloted, electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) demonstrator that is an all-electric, single-seat, and tilt-wing vehicle.
Whereas in April, this year, Airbus did not stop and announced a Flightlab through a Vertex. Flightlab is full of vision-based sensors and algorithms for situational awareness and obstacle identification, thanks to autonomous technology. Besides that, it has a fly-by-wire for enhanced auto-pilot and an advanced human-machine interface for inflight monitoring and control. These technologies are designed to reduce helicopter pilot workload, improve safety and make mission planning and management easier.
The advanced camera sensors help avoid any obstacles and select the most appropriate route to the destination independently. OMRON is a leading brand in industrial automation, offering sensors that analyse images to perform a character, positioning and appearance inspections. On-board LiDAR is another technique helpful in the new aircraft technology. LiDAR is a survey method that involves lighting an item with pulsed laser light and detecting the reflected pulses using a sensor.
Elon Musk, in 2012 introduced a 700 MPH Hyperloop concept. His idea was to create a mode of transport that would be cheap, like road transport, but fast like air. In cooperation with Tesla and SpaceX, it began a new era of high-speed innovation. The hyperloop can reduce waiting times by departing every couple of minutes, more regularly than other high-speed rail networks.
On November 8, 2020, the first passengers travelled safely on a hyperloop – making transportation history
Through Musk’s focusing on developing electric cars and space rockets, he decided to allow others to continue working on Hyperloop. This led companies dedicated to advanced technology, like Virgin Hyperloop, to successfully design a prototype in 2017, headed by Richard Branson. Branson hoped to establish a fully operational system in 3 years, which he has done. Virgin Hyperloop is currently working with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies to bring the hyperloop to life by 2030.
3. Drone Bus
Along with flying taxis and autonomous helicopters that can transport only a few people, a flying bus can commute a group of forty. Apart from a higher number of passengers, travel on a drone bus from Los Angeles to San Francisco or London to Paris takes only an hour, similarly to an aeroplane flight. The difference, however, is that the drone bus will be able to land and take off closer to city centres.
As an Uber Taxi competitor, Kelekona trucks would transport 10,000 pounds of freight for the cost of one Amtrak ticket. To begin, there is a planned 30-minute flight from Manhattan to the Hamptons, which will cost 85 dollars. The aircraft body might be built of 3D printed composite and aluminium.
The company also confirmed that they have the enormous battery power required to keep such flights going. This amount of energy would be sufficient to power hundreds, if not thousands, of homes. Kelekona compares the battery capacity to that of Tesla’s Model S and Model 3 batteries. The aerospace company expects their Airbus to go to the skies in 2022 for freight and 2024 for human passengers if the aircraft passes the necessary FAA certification process.
4. Electric Scooter
Electric scooters have become very popular lately as a quick and cost-efficient way of transport to reach destinations. However, many companies are already thinking about improving this transportation mode. Layer and Nio designed a stylish scooter that uses artificial intelligence to get people to their favourite destinations. It connects to smartphones via an app and allows riders to ask and receive voice commands about location or how much battery is left.
One of the most popular motorcycle brands, Harley Davidson, created a futuristic electric scooter that still looks like a motorcycle but in a very modern edition. Moreover, a leading motorcycle company decided to stay on electricity and created two more electric vehicles LiveWire. But the scooter is much more manageable than the large LiveWire motorcycle—an eco-friendly, easy to ride and is an ideal new attraction for Harley Davidson fans.
5. Walking Car
Hyundai, a popular car maker, designed a car that looks straight out of a Star Wars movie. This walking vehicle differs significantly from traditional vehicles. It looks like it has almost legs and knees and the capability of climbing up steep inclines and driving on different ground, terrains and rocky surfaces makes it the perfect futuristic mode of transport. It was primarily designed as a vehicle for the Armed Forces.
Besides walking cars, the future will also bring automobiles with the ability to transform into different things. Toyota has already created the e-Palette concept vehicle, which can be converted from a regular cab to a store selling any type of products or a delivery van. It will improve cars’ basic functionality as well as their versatility.
The technology that could end traffic jams
Considering that a little over half a century ago there were barely any cars on the streets (not many people could afford them), now almost everyone has a vehicle. There is an increased number of queues and traffic jams, especially in cities. That harms the environment and safety. Over a million people each year are killed or injured as a result of road traffic accidents. Technology can reduce accidents by launching IoT-enabled road sensors that instantaneously communicate with smart automobiles on the best way to avoid hazards or unfavourable road conditions. The rise of smart roads linked to the internet of things (IoT) has the potential to drastically reduce road fatalities.
Vans or buses will have adjusted seats to make them more convertible in the near future. Thanks to technology, soon people will be able to use personalized routes based on user data. Also, wireless battery chargers will be installed beneath highways, helping to cut air pollution and virtually eliminating the use of fossil fuels to power automobiles. Recently, Sweden completed a trial project. Two kilometres of road were converted into an electrified track that recharges vehicles such as electric automobiles and trucks while they are in motion.
Technology will make the most significant difference in the new era of modes of transport, will it be for the better? We will find out soon because the futurism of vehicles is already the near future. It will vastly change the world and the way of commuting.