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Flying cars, hyper-speed trains and rockets to Mars: the future of transport

4.9.2018
Flying cars, hyper-speed trains and rockets to Mars: the future of transport

From Hamburg to Berlin in 20 minutes? Simply flying over traffic jams? They’re still just visions, but some are already taking shape.

Even in the future, we won’t be flying through the air on witches’ brooms. But what about in a passenger drone or flying car? Or perhaps we will travel at over 1,000 kilometres per hour in capsules whizzing through tubes. Here are three visions for future mobility that researchers are actually working on.

Flying Cars

In science-fiction films, cars have been flying through the air for decades. What were fantasies not long ago are slowly but surely becoming reality. Many companies throughout the entire world are hard at work on shifting traffic from the roads to the sky, with the goal of reducing traffic problems. The Pop.Up Next concept, developed by Audi alongside Italdesign and Airbus, could kick off major change in urban areas, thanks to two-seater cabins which can be used either in combination with a fully autonomous (level 5) four-wheeled module or with a flying pod powered by four rotors. It is a modular, 100% electric system, able to take off and land vertically: the ideal solution for moving quickly and nimbly around urban areas.

The hyper-speed train

Revolutionising long-distance travel and transport, on the other hand, is the goal for Hyperloop One, a company which is developing a magnetic levitation system. The concept consists of transport modules moving inside low-pressure tubes, which operate under a partial vacuum, allowing the “pods” to move with little resistance on cushions of air. In technical jargon, it is known as Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3), and the most important advantage is that significantly higher speeds – up to 1,125 kilometres per hour – are possible with the same expenditure of energy. A possible first route would run between Los Angeles and San Francisco and more are under planning in other countries, including Germany. Just to give you an idea, the trip from Hamburg to Berlin (300 km) would take just 20 minutes.

Next stop: Mars

SpaceX is another company looking to the future, and it is working to let humans colonise Mars. The Big Falcon Rocket is being developed to allow the first human space flight to the red planet; this rocket will probably have reusable components, which would lower costs. Space travel for tourists is already offered by other companies, but it will be some time before this is affordable for the mass market: Anousheh Ansari, the first “space tourist”, paid 16 million dollars for her ten-day trip into space.

SourceVolkswagen AG

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