9 Future Transportation Methods in the Making
Future transportation will either be a refinement of current tech or a completely new innovation, obviously. After all, current transportation methods were once the figment of someone's imagination. Transportation in the future will come in various interesting forms from levitation and jet packs, to perhaps, the more esoteric concept of teleportation. Let's have a quick look at nine potential forms of transport in the future.
The following are in no particular order and far from exhaustive so feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
The first entry in our list of future transportation methods is nuclear-powered cars. They are a well-defined concept in sci-fi, notable examples including the Fallout series of games. Safety concerns and misunderstandings of the different forms of nuclear technology aside, they could be a reality in the future. Believe it or not, there is an American company who are powering ahead with their ambition to bring them to reality. Laser Power Systems (LPS) have been touting the benefits of thorium. The radioactive element largely responsible for powering the Earth's core.
Thorium has been suggested for use in future generation nuclear power plants but we could see it used in our rides one day. LPS plan to design a car engine powered by a single, small chunk of this radioactive material. The engine would work by focussing heat from the thorium core to produce steam. This steam would then turn a series of microturbines to generate electricity to power the wheels. An 8-gram chunk of thorium could, in theory, last as long as 100 years. Wow, kiss goodbye to your fuel bills, but would you ever drive one?
Elon Musk can't be accused of lacking ambition. Apart from his explorations into electric cars, commercial spaceflight and PayPal he's also trying his hand at public transport. Musk has proposed an ultra-fast, city-to-city transport system that could get you from San Franciso to Los Angeles in 35 minutes. Hyperloop is an elevated steel tube that contains aluminum capsules that could travel at 1,200 km/h. This future transportation method could carry cars as well as people and will likely to be powered by solar energy.
Pretty neat but it could cost as much as $100 billion to build. It also has many critics but hey it's a cool idea and we wish Hyperloop Transportation Technologies good luck.
Wow, even if you don't know what this is you've got to love the term. Supercavitation could revolutionize nautical transportation. The concept is to create a layer of gas bubbles around an object inside a liquid. Picture a submerged ship, say a submarine within a shroud of bubbles. The use of gas reduces friction up to 900 times less than normal. This allows the vessel to travel much more rapidly and efficiently than would otherwise be possible.
Naval applications can not be underestimated, reduced fuel costs, rapid speeds, increased sonar stealth and ability to outrun torpedoes. Juliet Marine Systems are already playing with the concept and have produced a prototype called the GHOST. Currently intended for military applications it would perhaps be used for less aggressive applications for the public as a future transportation method.
The Martin Jetpack
Although not a new concept, The Martin Jetpack is possibly the only current practical jetpack to date. Glenn Martin, from New Zealand, has been working on his design for over 30 years. It's almost ready for commercial sale. It is powered by ducted fans and can fly for up to 30 minutes at a time.
With a maximum speed of 74 km/h, it can reach heights of around 900 meters. Perhaps only for the very brave, this form of future transportation might be more suitable for firefighters or emergency teams. One could be yours if you have a spare $200,000 to hand, early Christmas present anyone?
Not just a pipe dream from sci-fi and films, Total Recall springs to mind, they are also being developed by the likes of Google to Tommaso Gecchelin's Next and of course the Tesla. Current projections may see this future transportation technology commercially available by 2019. The concept is not simple and incorporates sophisticated technologies widely available today. To most commuters this technology would be a "godsend" and if perfected it would drastically reduce, if not eliminate, road traffic accidents. Perhaps even traffic altogether?
Promising fast and easy access to space, Skylon is an interesting future transportation method. This aircraft's goal, essentially, is to travel five times faster than the speed of sound. This would, in theory, let the craft escape Earth's orbit and breach into the void of space. This tech can also be used to replace "run of the mill" airplanes with drastically reduced flight time. You could travel from the UK to Australia in around three to four hours. Awesome.
Currently impossible as a practical form of transportation, teleportation would be a highly desirable method in the future. Chinese physicists were able to transport a photon 16 and 100 km in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Clearly, this technology in sci-fi and "reality" will be able transport an object from A to B but not in its original form. The original is "mapped", destroyed and rebuilt at the destination.
This clearly has many ethical and moral implications not to mention logistical complexities to overcome. If we could do this would the "new" object or person at the destination actually be you or a clone? Can we ever justify "killing" someone in this way? Would you even use this future transportation method?
Now you're talking my language, well reading. Researchers in Tel Aviv, Isreal, have been developing a means of public transportation using magnetic levitation technology. Nicknamed SkyTran, this form of public transport is intended to function as a taxi service. Users will call a car to get them from A to B. Jerry Sanders, SkyTrans' CEO, want the service cost to be more than buses but less then taxi's if and when deployed.
First theorized around 100 years ago, space elevators conjure epic images worthy of high budget Hollywood movies. Such structures would need to be lightweight and very strong ,connecting a base station on Earth into space in excess of 22,000 km. Transport costs of materials and people into space is currently astronomically expensive, in the order of $20,000/kg.
As a future transportation method, space elevators would dramatically reduce this, plus they would be awe-inspiring.