Technology continues to improve. The past couple of decades has seen the most improvement occurring in the digital and network communications arena. Thankfully, some of the money that has been earned by giant companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft is now being reinvested in transportation technology. This article discusses several innovations that are currently being developed to make our traveling even easier than it is today.
1. Self-Driving Cars
Google's Waymo has been making headlines with high quality radar assisted auto driving cars. After testing their prototypes on a few modified Lexus and Toyota vehicles, the Waymo system has now been installed on a purpose made vehicle. Self-driving cars offer a future of better transportation. Because sensors can be designed that detect more of the roadway than a person, driving will become safer and more efficient. Disabled people and other demographics that typically have a hard time driving will be able to get to work by owning a self-driving automobile. Cheap auto insurance quotes will be more common, because driver risk will be lowered. Insurance policies will determine their rates based on the more predictable probability of a computer error. Human driver error is often more chaotic than a machine.
2. Magnetic Levitating Cars
Volkswagen pioneered a concept of a levitating car that relies on powerful electromagnets buried beneath the roadway. This would eliminate the need for tires, and help lower the friction that a normal car has. However, a magnetically levitating car might be a ways off. The reason so is because it requires building up an infrastructure of magnets underneath the road. There are several other companies working on the hover car concept.
3. Simple Hypersonic Propulsion
British company Reaction Engines Limited is continuing to invest in an air-breathing rocket jet engine design for their Skylon spacecraft concept. They have gained financial backing from both the European Space Agency and the British government. This would greatly simplify getting vehicles to orbit. No longer would rockets have to be destroyed by using multiple stages. Having an engine that allows hypersonic travel lowers commute times on air routes. Reaction Engines Limited has developed conceptual spacecraft and aircraft using its engine design, which is currently being finalized at its Culham facility.
4. Long Range Electric Cars
One of the challenges of driving an electric car is its high upfront cost and low range. Many automotive manufacturers are working on this problem. A big innovator in this field has been the modern luxury brand Tesla Automotive. A family electric vehicle that has greater range is the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Chevrolet Bolt EV has a nickel battery that gives it a 238 mile range per charge. This helps owners because one of the downsides of many earlier electric vehicle designs is their short range.
5. Flying Cars
Although current government policies make it challenging, there are many companies that are working on developing flying cars. One of them is Airbus. Airbus is developing the Vahana. The Vahana is a helicopter drone type flying car. It would allow the easy transportation of a non driving passenger to different parts of a large city. The Vahana project is based in Silicon Valley with the backing of Airbus. The amounts of money available to it might see a demonstrator flying by late 2017. There are other interesting flying car concepts actively being developed as well. Uber is also developing flying cars.
Technology is continuing to improve. The amount of money opened up by the digital era has allowed new inventors more freedom to pursue better travel systems. Time will tell if regulators will adapt to the changes that are occurring. There is some sign that the FAA is paying closer attention to the need for more civilian drones.