So many things have changed our lives in the last decade alone. The onset of the Internet began a change in our everyday lives that is still morphing the simplest details of our existence. We no longer live very much like we did only 10 – 20 years ago and things are changing even more. Means of personal transportation and the way we travel are exhibiting some of the biggest changes in history. The impetus behind all this change is humans ourselves and our desire to save our planet, our energy and our lives. We have finally realized that the fuel guzzling, resource burning, environment damaging vehicles we are so used to are not only killing us but the planet we live on and the food we eat. This is a mighty revelation, but still nothing we could do anything about quickly. Over the years, however, more and more technology has been invented that is now helping and will make even bigger accomplishments in the future.
Self-driving cars, hyperloops and even flying and floating cars are all on the drawing board as we speak. Each is designed to make future travel more efficient, safe, and timely than ever. Self-driving cars can be spotted now on our highways and Interstates. Their designs are still questionable in some areas but it is plain to see how they will eventually make travelling much safer. Most major automakers claim they will have some form of automatic car by 2020. Others claim they will offer fully autonomous cars in less than a decade.
Driverless cars have the possibility of being able to save hundreds of lives each year from traffic accidents. A study from Eno Centre for Transportation stated that if at least 90% of the traffic were autonomous cars, traffic deaths would fall from 33,000 per year to 11,300. According to Google, their driverless cars have driven over 2 million miles since 2010 with only 16 minor accidents, none attributed to Google cars fault. Traffic will deplete, along with carbon emissions. Personal productivity is also predicted to increase with automatic cars because of the time that will change from driving to just riding.
Flying cars seem like science fiction but they are on the horizon. Bloomberg reported two separate types of flying car prototypes in production from Google co-founder Larry Page. Another prototype, Terrafugia, aims to have a flying car on the market by 2025. It is planned to be able to take off, fly and land without help from a driver. It will also have plug-in hybrid capabilities and a 500-mile range. Another flying option in the future will be flying drones. Not a plane and not a flying car, these vehicles will be more like flying trolleys taking a small number of the public to predestined stops around the city. China already has a version that can carry one person for approximately 20 minutes. It is all electric and accessible from your smartphone.
Electric cars are already here and making great strides in saving the environment. Some companies are developing electric planes as well. NASA has an all-electric airplane that could be ready as soon as 2035. It features 14 electric motors and a new type of wing. Sky rails and other auto shuttles are also about to burst on the scene in large numbers. Some experts believe they will replace subways and other transit vehicles.
This future technology and the problems it solves does not mean we are home free. One of the issues we face with our growing population and aging transportation system is the amount of traffic on the roadways. As the human race continues to grow larger, space on the road is declining and so is the safety.
In response, more and more cities are developing more efficient ways of public travel. They are not only efficient in safety and travel times but also in fuel. State and federal fuel tax revenue is steadily declining as people drive less with more fuel efficient means. Herein lies the biggest trouble we face with the newest and most amazing travel technology. These new fuel economy standards will net a loss of over sixty-five billion dollars between the years of 2017 and 2023, leaving drastically reduced funds to repair and maintain roads. One possible solution lawmakers are considering is the pay-as-you-go idea. Much like tolling on the Interstate and highways, it would charge passengers a fee based on how often they use these fantastical new futuristic vehicles. Basic models include passengers buying a yearly pass, among other ideas.
While these new transportation venues will save many problems from becoming worse, and fully stop some human issues, it will undoubtedly come with its own unique set of problems that will need addressing. We can only hope we will be faced with the lesser of all evils.