With 2020 arriving tomorrow, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is on record as saying he wants a six-mile vacuum tunnel for his Hyperloop to be ready for a ground-breaking speed-record competition, offering a clear indication of the shape of thing to come. Electrical components manufacturer RS Components has created a tool which indicates the kinds of transport commuters will use to get to and from work in the years to come.
RS Components predicts in addition to Hyperloop, which would cut journey times from London to Edinburgh to just one hour, they will also be able to make use of SkyTran, a self-driving monorail which would hover 20 feet above roads and travel at speeds of up to 150mph, using only the amount of energy it takes to power two hairdryers.
By 2050, planes will have panoramic windows capable of turning transparent at the wave of a hand.
And perhaps most revolutionary of all, also by 2050, there will be an elevator to space in operation.
Hypersonic planes and space elevators will become realities, says Dr Pearson
SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk
Users will be able to depart from the equator and travel in an enclosure, guided by a 60,000 mile cable stretching a quarter of the way to the Moon.
Meanwhile the sound barrier is no barrier at all, it seems.
Dr Ian Pearson, a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, explained: “Development is currently underway on hypersonic planes – ones that travel faster than five times the speed of sound. Although initially aimed at the military, civil versions will eventually come and London to Sydney could become a 4.5 hour journey.
A space elevator could make it much easier to get above the Earth’s atmosphere
“Unfortunately, the technology to make hypersonic travel a reality for civilians is only likely to arrive around 2040 according to Boeing, though another company, Hermeus, estimates they could do it around 2030. With Airbus getting into the race, and the Chinese aiming for a hypersonic civil airliner fleet by 2035, fierce competition might mean the earlier timescales are realistic.”
Nor will the coming revolution bypass road transport, said Dr Pearson.
Driverless transport systems can either be self-driving (driven by AI), or use smart infrastructure with dumb pods.
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Driverless cars are also likely to becoming increasingly commonplace
A hyperloop train would travel at speeds of 700mph
“Dumb pods could become very cheap, without on-board sensors and AI, and using linear induction mats in the road surface for propulsion and steering at junctions to avoid the need for batteries and engines.
“The same mats could even levitate them so they don’t even need wheels, making them simple, reliable and cheap.
“Levitation needs strong magnetic fields and this needs advanced materials to create the magnetic fields cheaply, so it won’t be soon, but by 2035 or 2040 we may well see some levitating pod transport systems.”
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Dr Pearson added: “Electric scooters are in the news now, but future versions could be faster and safer.
“Self-balancing and self-driving technology already exist and will undoubtedly become better and cheaper.
“But even by 2025 and certainly by 2030, simple swarming algorithms could allow swarms of scooters to move together along streets, automatically keeping their distance from each other and from other road users.
Hyperloop one in California
“Individual scooters would join and leave swarms at junctions as appropriate.
“This would allow very high density of travellers compared to other forms of transport, even buses and trains.
“With such high density, it would also make sense to put inductive mats in urban streets to power them too so they recharge on the go.”