As questions go it’s a pretty big one, but what do you think transport will look like in the future? Not just a couple of years, but in 10, 15, 20 years’ time? It’s true that any claim to know would be steeped very heavily in guesswork, and probably optimism, but considering the UK government itself has come to the conclusion that driverless cars will be on the road by 2021, perhaps it’s worth taking some of the educated guesses a little more seriously.
Helping us all along with some of those bold predictions, SmartRail World has recently been made aware of thought-provoking infographic that has mapped out the future for us all. It first asks users to enter their age before taking them to the next page which shows in futuristic detail what age they will be when each of the forms of transport are available. Based on documents and data accumulated by some pretty big names in the transport industry, it may be unwise to dismiss the claims out of hand – even if one of the individuals involved has staked his claim that Mars will have its own self-sufficient city on Mars in 31 years!
Posing the question: ‘What futuristic transport will you see in your lifetime?’, the infographic –created by RS, an electrical component and engineering tool supplier – kicks off with a slightly more positive outlook than the UK government did for its driverless cars with an assertion that 103 million cars will instead be governed by AR augmented reality. The cutting-edged cars use powerful on-board computers and internet connections to keep the driver up-to-date with live information on driving conditions and accidents alerts. Informing that vision is Gov2020, a website created by Deloitte dedicated to predicting the trends for the future of driving based on the world’s changing circumstances.
Taking the driving out of the equation, it is the open-source technology hyperloop that is predicted to make an appearance, carrying both cargo and passengers. The owner of Tesla, Space X and the Boring Company that will potentially create many of the proposed routes for the supersonic form of travel, Elon Musk, opened the first stretch in December 2018. Resembling more of an “underground highway”, said Musk, the current prototype enabled specially adapted Tesla cars to travel at 40mph – around a quarter of the speed of the planned finished version of 150mph. Other hyperloop projects are on the drawing board in the Middle East and Spain but it’s fair to say that we’re still some way from taking a one-minute train to work.
The next in the infographic’s crosshairs is a form of transport that isn’t too much of a shot in the dark, bearing as it does a strong resemblance to Bombardier’s ambitious Bangkok project. Known as skyTran, the infrastructure for the four-metre-long pods could be installed alongside pre-existing roads using concrete foundations that are only reportedly required every 50 metres. Elevated 20 feet off the ground, capable of reaching 150mph and making no contract with the tracks, the passenger pods use magnets in the wings enable it to “change altitude and glide down onto a platform”. Ripping up the accepted normal for rail-based transport, skyTran claims that any installed system will remove the need to disembark or change to reach specific destinations – or, as the transport system’s website puts it “A pod travels wherever you need it to go, when you need it. As lines are added and expanded over time, the reach of our non-stop network increases.”
And finally, in the year that Musk predicts that Mars could have its own metropolis, alongside Airbus’ panoramic window planes that can turn transparent, the infographic points us towards something that bears a striking resemblance to Willy Wonka’s glass elevator. An idea spawned by the Japanese company, Obayashi, the lift to space would be guided by a 60,000-mile cable (a quarter of the way to the moon). I’ll be a pensioner then – I wonder if they’ll be a senior citizen tariff!
SmartRail World will be arriving in Munich on 18th-19th June for SafeRail. It's fair to say that many of the modes of transport mentioned in this feature won't be on the agenda, but cutting-edge developments such as telematics, data analytics, cyber security and Mobility-as-a-Service certainly will. Visit the show website to see the agenda, check out the speakers and register for the event.