The world of automobile and air travel has increased by leaps and bounds over the past century. Back then, the thought of self-driving cars or bullet trains was considered mere dreams. Today, travelling from point A to point B takes just a few hours compared to months of sailing through the vast oceans. Automotive brands are currently working on creating its own iteration of self-driving vehicles. What does this mean for the future of transportation?

From a consumer’s perspective, this will definitely be a step up. With the automotive industry almost being controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), every car on the road will soon be autonomous and reliant on AI. While self-driving cars are still being worked on for the future, other modes of transportation include the likes of railless trains and even passenger drones.

Self-driving cars

The Waymo self-driving car by Google

While self-driving cars are already available, it still hasn’t been fully introduced to the rest of the world. With Tesla being the first to bring its technology to the forefront, it now faces plenty of competition from other luxury automotive brands as more concept cars are making its way into the market.

The concept Volvo 360c

However, it is great to see more companies taking the notion of self-driving cars seriously. Even Volvo has jumped into the foray, first with its self-driving trucks. Most recently is the concept Volvo 360c, which aims to not only improve self-driving capabilities but to also enhance the way we live. The likes of Google are also part of the self-driving car industry with Waymo, an independent self-driving technology company.

With the rate the self-driving car industry is moving, it’s only a matter of time before that technology becomes easily accessible to everyone. This will allow more and more drivers on the road to be part of the revolution that will certainly hit the world by storm.

Passenger drones

The Volocopter VC200 is a twin-seater with eight rotors

Another piece of technology that is constantly innovating is the passenger drones. This works well especially when it comes to large cities with a dense population, which contributes to congestion problems when it comes to travelling by car. The viability of passenger drones is mankind’s next step towards the future, if we can get past various challenges in terms of safety and engineering.

Currently, there are many on-going projects when it comes to autonomous passenger drones with Volocopter being one of the more famous projects as it is backed by Daimler. The German aviation company is currently in partnership with Intel and is looking to put the Volocopter VC200 on the map by the early 2020s. Ride-sharing service Uber is also looking to be part of the autonomous passenger drone project with its very own Uber Elevate in partnership with NASA.

The Uber Elevate passenger drone is the ride-sharing service’s latest introduction to the transportation industry

Known as vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles, Uber Elevate is currently working with many major cities around the world in finding possible take-off and landing zones for its drones. Uber Elevate is looking to introduce its drones to the market by 2020 and mostly in highly dense areas, which will suit its purpose for autonomous passenger drones.

Railless trains

The maglev train that will be introduced into Japan in the near future

Arguably one of the oldest modes of transportation, trains have been around since 6th century BC in Ancient Greece. Fast forward to today and trains are still considered as one of the better alternatives when it comes to long-haul transportation. While most passenger trains run on rails, magnetic levitation (maglev) technology is looking to change all that.

So far, only China has introduced maglev technology onto its trains, particularly the Shanghai Maglev, which started back in 2004. However, Japan is also looking to implement the maglev technology by introducing it into Chuo Shinkansen line, a 350km distance between Tokyo and Nagoya. A journey of that distance by train will usually take an hour but with maglev technology, it promises to cut its travel time to just 40 minutes.

A concept design of the Hyperloop

Hyperloop is another piece of technology that is creating waves around the world. Based in California where its parent company, the Boring Company was founded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk. The idea behind the hyperloop tunnel is through Musk’s perception of traffic congestion in Los Angeles, which then gave him the idea of a high-speed tunnel to help ease the situation. Described as a fifth mode of transportation, the hyperloop would be able to ferry passengers from one destination to another in capsules that float in partial vacuum tubes.

When it comes right down to it, the future of transportation is already here. However, there are still many challenges to face, especially when it comes down to accessibility and safety. If all goes well, we could be welcoming the start of a new age when it comes to technology and transportation working hand-in-hand.

Wi-Liam Teh
Senior Writer
Wi-Liam is a geek at heart with a penchant for tattoos. Never without a drink in hand (preferably whisky, gin, or Guinness), he is also a writer by day and a keyboard warrior by night. On his day off, he masquerades as a streetwear and sneakerhead enthusiast while his bank account says otherwise.