Future travel will be faster, more efficient, and sustainable. And it could take you much further than our planet – or even the physical world.
The world is getting smaller, and what a gift that is. Except for the planet that suffers as our travel ambitions grow. Some forward-thinking companies understand that a groundbreaking change is non-negotiable. When their plans materialize, the future travel will be quiet, eco-friendly and fast. And it will take you much further than our planet.
Hyperloop: is it just hype?
A lot has been said about Hyperloop, a new passenger transport model three times faster than the world’s fastest train. On one end, there’s immense excitement. Hyperloop would completely change the way we live, commute to work, and move around the world. On another hand, critics believe that the project is not economically feasible and would only cater to the elite. Just take a look at these calculations, and you’ll understand the cynicism.
However, Virgin Hyperloop CTO believes we can’t comprehend yet how significant the disruption would be. “I think a lot of critics don’t fully understand that this is not a train. It’s also not a plane or a boat. It’s quite a bit different to what people are used to,” Josh Giegel said for Forbes. As he explained, most critical responses are based on misconceptions. Hyperloop should be widely available and affordable while also fully electric and with zero emissions. Giegel estimated that the completed system could transport 50,000 people per hour.
So when can we travel in futuristic pods that will turn a 4-hour car journey into a 30-minute long ride? Sir Richard Branson says we’re almost there. “Over the next six or seven years, I would hope that our first fully-fledged Hyperloop system will be up and running,” he mentioned for CBS. The founder of Virgin Group believes that international travel will be impacted, too, as Hyperloop can connect airports. “We can go straight to the gate, unload people at that gate so they can just get on the plane and fly internationally,” he described. Their test drives already successfully took place, while Elon Musk, along with a handful of other companies, are working on their own Hyperloops. Perhaps your commute from one city to another will be a matter of minutes soon.
Electric planes are getting better
Over the past year, our planet took a little break from carbon emissions caused by commercial aviation. Typically, airplanes generate about 2-3% of global carbon emissions, mainly due to burning fuel, and that needs to stop.
One solution would be to start widely using electric planes. The good news is: we’re getting there. Several companies are working on batteries that can sustain a 500-mile journey. That may not seem like a lot, but a significant number of flights actually is under 500 miles. Eliminating the pollution and economic costs related to these ridiculously unecological journeys would be a big deal.
On top of that, electric planes could also take advantage of the existing regional airports that are barely used. “It’s a tenfold increase in the number of potential destinations, all the while not having the significant burdens on the communities of noise and pollution,” explained Kevin Noertker, CEO of Ampaire, for Business Insider.
In the future, electric planes will continuously increase their capacity and fly longer distances. Pipistrel Chief Technical Officer Tine Tomažič says that another giant leap will be the eVTOL segment – “a vertical takeoff and landing electric-powered machines that effectively take off and land where we want them, bringing the airports to people.”
Speaking of Pipistrel, the Slovenian company has recently pioneered another sustainable and cost-effective airplane. Their EU-funded Miniliner runs on hydrogen and can seat up to 19 people. The plan is to increase connections between small cities and small airports to major hubs.
Future travel and disruption of car industry
In a couple of years, you may not want to own a car. You’ll just hop on an automated shuttle or a drone taxi and go wherever you want. As Georgios Georgiadis, Founder & Managing Director at Excelix, explained at Reflect Festival, the entire car model is being disrupted.
Subscription-based and sharing models are clearly becoming a trend. “It becomes a substantial part of the culture of the newest generation. In short distances, cars are being replaced by micro-mobility solutions such as bikes and e-scooters,” he said. As for medium distances, the ride-hailing concept is on the rise. What about long-distance journeys? In this case, the popularity of car-sharing is continuing to grow despite safety concerns.
Unsurprisingly, the future of cars is also electrified. Georgiadis believes that entirely autonomous and flying vehicles will become widespread in the next 5-10 years. Another enormous game-changer will come with robotaxis and drone taxis, and Georgiadis says we should brace ourselves. They’re coming sooner than you might think.
On that note, Slovak company AeroMobil says their flying cars will be commercially available by 2023. The company conducted successful test flights earlier this year, which brings them closer to a certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
“The successful performance of The AeroMobil in passing these critical governmental certification tests brings the commercialization of a new luxury supercar, equally at home in the air or on the road one step closer to reality,” said Patrick Hessel, CEO of AeroMobil, for Avionics International. “When it comes to market in 2023, it will be the coolest thing on four wheels ever commercialized, providing unlimited freedom of travel.”
Space travel for masses
While Elon Musk and NASA race to get humans to Mars, space tourism to more pleasant destinations is getting very real. Unlike a potentially daunting and lengthy trip to Mars, a brief visit to space looks like fun. Needless to say, the first journeys to space are reserved for the wealthy. The first space travelers paid Virgin Galactic around 250k USD, but the company already announced that the final price would be higher.
If you’d like to fly in Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), the price tag is much heftier. Each of the three crew members paid 55 million USD and went through a 15-week training program. Well, that’s the price to pay if you want to be on the first private flight to the ISS.
Mixed reality or how to never get bored
If you’ve been to space, what else is there? Well, you could still hang out with your friends within mixed reality. In MR, the real and virtual worlds coexist and create a brand new place. Essentially, while immersed in MR, you are neither in the physical or virtual world but somewhere in between.
With recently introduced Microsoft Mesh, you can enter the mixed reality either as your lifelike, photorealistic self or create an avatar. Whatever the shape, you can move through this new world, interact with others and solve problems together. All you need is a headset and a Mesh-enabled app. Microsoft already presented the worlds we could roam together, one of them being the bottom of the ocean.
If you don’t want to wait for widely available mixed reality tools, you can always try virtual reality. You could stroll around Pompeii or Athens even in lockdown.