14 Aug 2017
transport technology

Transport technology: the future of travel

Transport is currently going through a bit of a high-tech revolution, and it’s unstoppable (pun intended).
This year has seen some of the most innovative evolutions that have redefined the way we travel. It’s becoming commonplace to expect the unexpected.
What once seemed like a sci-fi fantasy is becoming a reality. Let’s take a look at just a handful of ways our roads, skies, and railways are becoming more and more innovative…
1. Self-driving cars.
A new car in the UK lasts an average of 13.9 years.
Self-driving cars along with advances in artificial intelligence are set to transform not only how we drive, but car ownership itself.
Self-driving cars will be delivering customers to their door as soon as 2020!
Currently, a small car with a driver can only carry 3 passengers. If we could drop the driver, it will increase passenger capacity by 25%.
But can we trust a robot to drive us home?
Human error is by far the largest cause of accidents on our roads. A small robot hidden in a car may be a lot safer than a human who can get tired, drunk or distracted by their mobile.
2. The Hyperloop.
This futuristic transport system where commuters are whisked through a tube at speeds of 700mph has come a long way.
Many of the current designs have pods that can be launched on demand every 20 seconds. Others suggest eco-friendly designs, powering pressure pumps with clean energy like solar.
There are tests already underway in Nevada, which built a 500m test track to launch its first pod.
Some proposed routes include a Hyperloop from London to Edinburgh to 50 minutes. While other speculated routes include several US Hyperloops and an Indian track.
It may seem far-fetched, but ventures have gone well so far. Plenty of people back the theory, but the potential cost and feasibility are still to be tested.
With more people using the railway in Britain than ever, we need greater capacity on our trains. Could magnetic levitation tech be the answer to cutting journey times for the UK?
The main benefit of Maglev is the ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly. Ideal for shorter intra-city trips. The trains have fewer carriages better suited for passengers travelling on trains frequently.
Asia has the world’s fastest commercially operating Maglev train reaching speeds of 267mph.
However, Maglev have high running costs over long distances.
Anything more than 15 miles current makes the technology uneconomical.
Is there is a place for Maglev to improve connections between our major cities?
We’re not going to see Maglev connecting London and the north anytime soon, but there is potential to create super-fast inter-urban lines.
The pods seat one person and move on their own over a pre-described route.
The idea is that the human operator interacts with the pod using a touchscreen in the windshield. Once you’ve swiped to select a destination, you can read the news, check your email or play a video game.
There will be a built-in wireless hotspot to connect your gadgets.
Similar pods are being used in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and at London Heathrow airport, but both are used in tightly controlled areas.
The first generation of electric-car buyers has been people with homes where it is easy to plug one in.
Charging points are set to be in workplaces, shopping centres, railway stations and more very soon.
For longer journeys, rapid chargers can recharge a battery in 30 minutes. This will increasingly proliferate across motorway service stations and at conventional refuelling stations.
Electric cars are still more expensive than their everyday cousins, but companies like Renault and Nissan are getting around that with deals where buyers lease the battery.
However, electricity as a fuel is certainly cheaper than petrol or diesel. Travelling 100 miles in an electric car will cost £3-£4 depending on energy tariffs, compared with £15 in a petrol car.
Affordability is a key issue. When Volvo announced all its new car launches would by electric or hybrid from 2019, it stressed that they would be premium models, ie expensive.
The future of travel and transport tech shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon! Anything that makes those daily commutes more bearable is OK with us.
Got a future tech trend you think we should investigate? Let us know over on Twitter or LinkedIn.