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Transportation

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What If We Plan Our Future?
 Chapter 8

GETTING THERE FASTER
NEW MODES OF TRANSPORTATION

Let’s take a quick history lesson to illustrate how progress can be made at an alarming rate.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” A mere eight years later, astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon on July 20th, 1969. Once we decided to do it, if took only 8 years to accomplish this goal. 8 years! Hence, progress in many fields, including transportation, will also experience great advances this century.

ALL HAIL THE FLYING CAR

Prediction No. 39: The Flying Car will finally become a reality as well as a primary mode of transportation by 2060.

The automobile and the airplane were responsible for tremendous changes in the 20th Century - allowing humans to be far more mobile than ever before. Next: A combination of these two great inventions will have a tremendous impact on lifestyles in this Century.

We’ve already witnessed basic models of the flying car take off – essentially a car with wings and a propeller attached. But there will be a few more technological advancements before the skies overhead are flooded with flying cars.

2060

The guidance system in the cruise missile allows the projectile to avoid trees and mountains as it hugs the terrain before hitting its target. Advanced collision avoidance technology is very necessary if we want 30 million+ flying cars up in the air at any one time. Fortunately, technology 30 to 50 years from now will allow a driver to get into his or her car, voice a destination and up and away they go – safely avoiding a sky full of obstacles.

Commuter horror stories will become 20th Century folklore when the Flying Car takes off in huge numbers around 2060. The Flying Car will allow us to live 300 miles away from our work, allow us to sleep as it flies on its own to our work, and allow us to sip coffee as it parks itself next to our place of employment.

The Flying Car will be a trillion-dollar-plus industry thus revitalizing our economy. Other benefits will include the tearing down of roads, overpasses and freeways with the reclaimed land used to grow trees or grow food for a starving world. Cities will become less crowded as people can live hundreds of miles away from work. And once advanced models of these flying cars take off, why can’t an employee live in Denver and commute to Miami?

By 2070, the Flying Car will become so sophisticated that a person can enter his or her vehicle, think a destination and have the on-board kitchen prepare breakfast and coffee while the rider is taking a shower IN the vehicle. As the rider is eating their meal, they can watch a short multi-dimensional movie - all while traveling 500 miles per hour. Upon reaching their destination, the Flying Car will make a vertical landing and then drive itself to the appropriate carport.

THE NEXT STEP:

CARS THAT DRIVE THEMSELVES 

Prediction No. 40: Driverless Cars will save many lives within the next 15 years.

Some people make terrible drivers. They race through red lights, make unsafe lane changes while talking on their cell phone, and too often drive drunk. Fortunately, the next step in driver safety is cars that drive themselves -- thus preventing human error (expect a major advancement by 2025).

Specifically, these completely computerized cars will have the technology to recognize all stop signs, stop for students crossing the street, and never accidentally stray into the wrong lane. Collision Avoidance Technology (now in its infant stages) will save many lives. Currently Google and other businesses are experimenting with driverless cars.

2025 to 2030

When the law requires ALL vehicles to be computer operated sometime around 2030, thousands of lives will be saved each year due to the great reduction in accidents. Of course, the last drunk driving fatality will be a major benefit of this advancement. It should be noted that since all cars will obey the speed limit and all traffic laws, traffic will flow far more smoothly.

Another good thing about cars that drive themselves will include their ability to pick up a young child at school and safely bring the kid home -- without an adult in the car. At the same time, many cars and trucks will travel without human occupants - a rent-a-car will drive itself directly to your hotel and driverless trucks will travel a few blocks to cross country to make deliveries. 

Watch out for that tree! Computer-operated cars with collision avoidance systems will make your trip home extremely safe within the next 15 years.

WHEN ARE WE REALLY GETTING

THE ELECTRIC CAR?

Prediction No. 41: A strategic change in how batteries in electric cars are maintained will lead to the nearly complete conversion to electric cars by 2025.

Certainly the current means of plugging in your car to an electrical socket overnight so you can travel 60 miles before you need another charge is not practical. We either have to increase the battery capacity (which we will) or make it easier to change the battery as charging takes too long.

2025
Another solution will come when electric-car batteries are dispensed in vending machines in front of your local 7-11. These batteries will be universal for all electric cars manufactured after 2025 and may resemble a laptop in size. With the battery located in the side of your car, a thumb print will allow the battery to pop out and you’ll quickly and easily replace it with a fully charged battery.

Touch screen Kiosks will be placed perhaps a mile apart on freeways, or in front of your local McDonalds. You place your palm on the screen, deposit the original battery and out pops a fully charged battery (your bank account will automatically be charged). It will be faster than filling a tank of gas. And why not carry a spare battery in your truck when transversing Death Valley?

This robot can change a battery in 7.3 seconds - faster than an Indy pit stop. Artwork by Alessandra Andrisani

ALTERNATIVE MODES OF TRANSPORTATION

NEIGHBORHOOD AIRPORTS

Prediction No. 42: Passenger jets will land and take off vertically by 2035. Other planes will fly perpetually around the planet by 2060.

By 2035, expect to see large, jumbo jets making stops in a parking lot just down YOUR street. The technology for vertical take offs and landings exists today for jet fighters and will exist tomorrow for a future generation of gigantic passenger jets. All that's needed is a large open field or parking lot and you have an airport. This advancement will be extremely helpful for remote, isolated towns and cities.

2035

This technology will also help reduce flight delays at major airports as literally dozens of planes can vertically take off at the same time - they will be assigned different "altitudes" - before zooming off to their destinations.

Passenger planes of the future can lift off vertically and land vertically in about 20 years. Then you can forget about long lines of planes waiting to take off or land when this technology becomes common place in the 2030s. These planes will also make stops at small towns throughout the United States.

THE PERPETUALLY FLYING PLANE

Prediction No. 43: By 2060, advanced technology will provide for perpetually flying planes the size of aircraft carriers.

Anti-gravity and solar power will make this projectile a reality (at night, satellites will reflect solar rays to these planes to replenish their batteries). As these planes go round and round the world, flying elevators will carry passengers up for arrival and down for departure.

2060
Some passengers, just for fun, will board a flying elevator in San Francisco that rises to a perpetually flying plane. They’ll circle the globe while enjoying the view and a meal before descending in an elevator that lands back in San Francisco. 

Perpetually flying planes will constantly circle the globe by 2060. Flying elevators will load and unload passengers.

THE SHORTEST DISTANCE...

Prediction No. 44: Underground Mega-Bullet Train tunnels will criss-cross our planet in the second half of this century.

Underground transportation will be the wave of the future. We've seen it already with the Chunnel – the 31-mile tunnel that connects England with Europe. There has been a proposal to connect Taiwan with mainland China -- and this tunnel will be constructed by 2040.

Tunnels will be short in the first half of the century with New Zealand connecting with Australia, Sri Lanka with India and Madagascar with Africa. But by 2070, there will be undersea tunnels for lightning-fast trains that will transverse the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. A New York to Paris mega-bullet train in 2071 will make the cross-Atlantic run in less than 7 minutes.

2040 to 2071

"Speed" is the word. Everyone in 2050 will want to get there faster. And speed records will be constantly broken. Perhaps by 2060, a Los Angeles to New York City run in a continental tunnel will be made in less than 6 minutes – so you can’t do 8 Minute Abs during this trip.

These tunnels will be constructed by huge mole-like machines using mid-21st Century technology that will be programmed to barrow, pack the dirt tightly against the walls and then coat the walls with an ultra-durable sealant -- all in one process.

SIDEWAYS ELEVATORS

Prediction No. 45: Sideway elevators will save time in large office and apartment buildings by 2025.

2025

We can also expect in the near future that large office and apartment buildings constructed after 2025 will have "horizontal elevators." So when you go up to the 19th floor, you can then go sideways to the south end of the building to the location you desire.

BEFORE WE GET TO THE NEAREST STAR

Even if they build a casino on a planet near Alpha Century, space travel in the 21st Century will be limited – it’s the double whammy of time and distance.

Prediction No. 46: Space travel will not reach Star Trek dimensions for several centuries.

2199+


As for inter-gal
actic space travel, the best we can hope for in this century is a robot-operated ship that races towards Alpha Century (the nearest star which is over 4 light years away). Yes, man will build fast enough vehicles to reach Pluto by 2099 but the technology to conquer the speed of light is centuries away. 

"Bye, I'm off to the Moombeam Hyatt to visit the relatives." Despite the harsh reality of a light year, exciting things will happen in the field of space travel during this century:

THE TOURIST INDUSTRY

CONQUERS SPACE

Prediction No. 47: "Local" outer space tourism will become a major industry sometime after 2040.

2040

Wouldn't it be nice to spend your next vacation on the moon? Well, at least our children's children will have this option. Comfortable space stations with 5-star accommodations will ring our globe so newlyweds and tourists can visit and enjoy nearly complete privacy. The Moon will have a doom-covered city by 2080 (constructed by robots) so tourists can brag the likes of: "Oh, I've been to Atlanta, Istanbul and, oh, yeah, the Moon." By 2090, a first-class leisure resort will open on Mars. It will be expensive as a Martian Tootsie Roll (adding the cost of shipping and adjusting for inflation) will cost $427.82.

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