It has become a familiar thing now, but even several years ago, we couldn’t imagine a technology like this could enter into our daily lives. Tech advancement is faster than our imagination. Now that a car that can fly in the sky is soon to be made, the future means of transportation are growing beyond the reach of our imagination.
Is it because we’ve often seen them in picture books or movies as a kid? The dream of flying in the sky has been spurring research on flying. As a result, in September 2017, the test-run of a ‘drone taxi’ that transports a passenger to the destination has succeeded in Dubai.
There also has been a dream of making a ‘hoverboard’ as seen in movies. And hoverboards are now really close to commercialization as one set a record of flying as far as 2252 m not long ago.
The ‘flying car’ can be simply interpreted as a car that can fly in the air, but in a broad sense, it is a means of transportation where the function of a car and that of a plane are combined. It includes a roadable aircraft and hover car that can hover above the ground.
Research on flying cars has been carried out since the early 20th century, and many researchers expect them to be commercialized by 2020. They have shown rapid progress since innovative startups, as well as world’s leading major companies, entered into flying car development. For example, a Slovakian startup showcased its flying car at Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017 and received pre-orders. Six months before that at Geneva Motor Show, a French airline also revealed its single-seater flying car.
Countries such as Japan and China in Asia, as well as Europe, are actively engaged in the research, and Japan, in particular, is planning to showcase its flying car at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The flying car has wings and a propeller, runs on the ground with the wings folded in and flies in the air with the wings deployed. Depending on the model, it takes 3 to 4 minutes to deploy the wings and the maximum flying distance is approximately 700 km. A pilot license is required to operate it as it is considered as a plane when it’s flown. It also needs to get permission to fly from the air authority.
Although quite a number of companies have been successful in road and flying tests, there still remain a number of details such as safety and traffic law revisions to be worked out. If these matters are solved, we might be able to see ‘one family with one flying car’ in the near future.
Public transportation is also evolving by being coupled with technological innovation as well as private. The high-tech form of public transport we can imagine now is the hyperloop. Hyperloop is capable to connect the cities, Seoul and Busan in South Korea which are 396 km apart, in just 16 minutes.
This ridiculously high speed is realized by reducing air resistance. The air in the tube is extracted to make it low pressure and minimize air resistance. With the air reduced, it can run at 1200 km/h, which is much faster than the average plane speed of 700~900 km/h.
Then, how about the energy efficiency of the hyperloop that is as fast as lightning (1,224 km/h)?
Despite its incredible speed, it is highly energy-efficient. Hyperloop is a self-powered train that operates with the power of an external motor on the capsule (train), which draws energy from the solar panel mounted on top of the tube.
In July 2017, the hyperloop achieved a maximum speed of 309 km/h at the test drive conducted in the Nevada desert. This is three times faster than two months ago, and recently, China also joined in developing a hyperloop. They’ve started the development to realize a speed of 4000 km/h, which is four times faster than the current target speed of 1200 km/h. Developing the technology that will make the speed of your dreams come to reality might not really be a challenge on speed, but the attempt to connect the world.
Perhaps, the future means of transportation is breaking the traditional notion of traveling space. It would be exciting to see how the technology that is connecting the world beyond the limits of reality would open up a new world for us.