The Future of Transportation

800px-Mass_Rapid_Transit_tracks,_Singapore_-_20080501

Flying cars? Vacuum-powered trains? It’s hard to know what the future holds. However, it’s pretty clear that our modes of transportation are evolving and it’s not entirely impossible to predict where they’re going. While we might not see flying cars anywhere in the near future, we will see technology advance and make our commuting lives easier. Here’s my predictions of what we’ll see (and won’t see) in the next couple of decades:

Self-driving cars

By Flckr user jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 It’s pretty easy to see that cars are becoming more and more independent of our driving skills as time goes on. We already have cars that can park themselves and and automatically stop whenever there’s an obstruction in its path. Heck, Google already made a car than can drive itself. Driverless cars are already legal in California, Nevada, and Florida. Cars of the future will be able to automatically calculate the fastest route based on traffic and other information, and maybe even drive you there without any other input.Proliferation of this technology offers the best of both worlds–it satisfies our desire to have our own personal vehicles while potentially making trips faster and safer due to consistent computer control.

Inter-city transit

By Another Believer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Another Believer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is an area of our infrastructure which is severely underdeveloped. Many cities currently have complex public transportation systems of their own, but when it comes to travelling between cities or around the country, our options are pretty limited. President Obama has proposed a national network of high-speed rail, and while we have no way of knowing when that idea will come to fruition, such a system would definitely facilitate expansion and ease the load on our current infrastructure. In the long term, we may even see high-speed systems such as the Vactrain come into the picture. As proposed, these trains will operate inside vacuum tubes at extremely high speeds and for long distances.

Expansion of current systems

Doors_closing_train_prepares_to_depart

As time goes on, I believe that we will see current public transportation systems continue to advance. Take the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, for example–DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) recently agreed on limited bus service in  the city of Arlington, Texas (which happens to be the largest city without public transportation, by the way). As commuters become increasingly frustrated with our current road and highway network, more people will begin to look for an alternative. The most obvious answer is simple intra-city bus and rail systems. As demand for these increase, we will continue to see more development of such solutions.

Flying cars?

Anthony22 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Anthony22 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Sure, the idea has been around ever since The Jetsons, or maybe even longer. However, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon. Developing the technology would be the easy part; implementing a system to keep drivers from aimlessly flying throughout the air and into each other is going to be incredibly difficult. That’s just my take, however. Flying cars aren’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

Obviously, some of the concepts above will require a lot of development and perfection until they become viable alternatives to what’s currently available to us. Regardless, I’m excited to see where we’re headed in the realm of transportation. If I left anything out, please feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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