TodayApril 15, 2022

Automated vehicles, electric cars, flying into the future

Automated vehicles, electric cars, flying into the future

Imagine if you could travel back, say, one hundred years, and you were talking with the people about what life was like in 2019. Can you imagine the look they’d have on their faces when you told them that you could go anywhere you please in your own “horseless carriage,” or that people were carried from one corner of the globe to the other in large metal tubes? The Wright Brothers created the ability to fly, and each year others have added lightness and luxury to the awesomeness of flight. When you think about the wonders of the internet, television, microwaves, and all the other things we’re prone to take for granted, you realize that it is a journey much like the Wright Brothers in how we get from point A to point B.

Some think it is daydreaming to think of future vehicles. For one reason or another, they don’t want to think about a future that changes with the times. What would we say about transportation if we visited the future? It’s likely that it’s going to be as dramatic a shift as the first one hundred years ago. It might change in ways that we can’t even imagine. However, not everything about the future of transport is a mystery. Indeed, we have a pretty solid understanding of what it’ll be like based on the research that ’s conducted now and the broader shifts that are happening at a cultural and political level. Below, we take a look at some of the changes we can expect to hit the streets, train tracks, and skies in the coming decades.

Automated Vehicles

If people studied the stats about how dangerous the roads are, it’s possible they’d never get behind the wheel again. Somewhere in the region of 1.25 million people die each year due to accidents using vehicles, which is more than three thousand a day — and of course, the numbers of people who are injured in road accidents each year is significantly higher. And there’s a reason why the figures are so high, one common cause which, if we could eradicate it, would make life infinitely safer. It’s called human error, and it’s responsible for much of the damage caused on the roads.

But how do you solve the riddle of operator error on the roads? We are, after all, only human — mistakes are built into us. One way is to remove the human element altogether and put it in the hands of computers. There’s been much talk about automated vehicles in our future. While they’re still some time away, improvements are being made all the time. It’s possible that in the next decade or two, you’ll be able to take a trip to wherever you want to be without ever touching the gas or brake pedal. The car will be doing all the work.

Environmentally Friendly Cars

We’ve known for some time now that pollution from cars has played a significant role in climate change. In fact, oil companies have known about it for even longer — decades longer — than the general public. They just chose not to disclose the information. Now, however, the world is more aware of the effects of an economy and transport system that runs on oil, and the fightback has begun. Electric cars, which have a much, much smaller carbon footprint, are growing in popularity with the public. With more and more charging stations installed across the globe and incentives to buy electric rather than cars that use non-renewable resources, there is a possibility that more people will want to own an innovative electric car.

The transition may seem slow, but it is happening, and it’s only going to accelerate in the coming years, especially as Tesla — and Chinese companies — continue to develop their vehicles, which in turn will make them more affordable.

High-Speed Public Transport

Of all the more outlandish transport ideas that have been put forward — and there have been a lot — the one that was just canceled is the Hyperloop in California. It was to be a form of public transport that hits speeds of 760 mph, which is much, much faster than current train and flight speeds. A full system hyperloop trial system is going to get underway in France shortly.
While there’ll be little demand for the system in areas that already have reliable public transport routes, the system will be necessary for connecting areas in places without such systems, including the western section of the United States and Australia.

Shared Journeys – Ridesharing

There’s a chance that the era of personal private transport is slowly coming to an end. While there are plenty of benefits to being able to zip around town, it’s not a very efficient system. Car traffic, for example, is a significant issue in many big cities, and the pollution that’s pumped out of vehicles is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. As such, it’s possible that there’ll be a major shift towards collective transport rather than individual transportation.

While the suburbs will remain untouched, downtown areas will shift to a light transport system, hopefully making traffic congestion a thing of the past. Cities could go as far as being without cars altogether — this has already been tried in small towns and will happen in certain German cities in the coming years. Of course, while there’ll likely be a shift towards collective transport, it’s likely to only be on a small scale, in areas that can absorb banning vehicles without any injury to the economy (such as already well-established cities). As well as collective transport, these cities will also advocate for bike journeys.

Flying Cars

It sounds like far-off science fiction, but actually, flying cars might not be all that too far off after all. Now, we know, these promises have been made before, and they never amounted to much in the end. But this time, it might be different. The advances in technology have been significant in recent years, to the point where flying cars are on the horizon, or should that be, in the skies. Indeed, some flying cars have already been made available for purchase. Though having said that, there are still some kinks to work out first — such as where they’re going to land, or how they’ll interfere with other light aircraft. But for now, we get to enjoy the idea of owning a flying car ready to take to the skies.

Across the Ocean

The Concorde is one of those fantastic human achievements that oddly gets overlooked. It was an insanely quick – albeit expensive – way to get across the Atlantic. And then just as quickly as it started it all came to an end because it was too expensive, and of course, because of the safety issues. But the technology is there and will come back to the market eventually.

While the Concorde dream may have come to an end, it’s not the end of fast flights. In the not too distant future, planes will be able to make transatlantic flights in a quicker time than the Concorde.

Into the Heavens – Space and Beyond

For thousands of years, humans have looked to the sky and wondered what was up there in the heavens. They looked for answers in the stars but never thought they’d be able to fly up there and look for themselves. Even when man landed on the moon, it was unbelievable to believe that the individual would be able to leave earth’s orbit.

That’s all set to change. Maybe not immediately, but soon, with SpaceX, Virgin, and other companies all on their way to make private transport an option for people, who, you know, aren’t astronauts. It’s not going to be cheap, however — far from it. But if you have an extra $250,000 or so lying around, then you can book yourself a seat.

As with most things, these costs will come down, and in the longer term, flights into space will be the same as taking any other plane journey. In the future, transport won’t be talked about in terms of crossing oceans or quickly getting downtown – it’ll be about how people are getting to the moonbase. It all sounds like science fiction, but, while we haven’t got everything figured out just yet, there’s going to be a time when humans look beyond our solar system and into deep space.

Final Thoughts

We’re living in transformative times. The technological revolution and the internet has made a dramatic difference to the world, in ways that can’t yet fully be understood — that’s for the future historians to determine. It can be said with certainty, however, that we’re about to embark on a level of change the likes of which haven’t been felt since the industrial revolution. While the above suggestions will come to pass, there’ll also be different transport methods that will come into play as well. One thing’s for sure; the world will become even smaller than ever, all because of the first flight the Wright Brothers took in the air, though we might be waiting some time for teleportation devices.

I hope you enjoyed this article on Automated vehicles, electric cars, flying into the future

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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