There was a time when bicycles were considered an impressive innovation in transportation. Today’s technology is far more advanced than that of the 1800s, however, and as we move deeper into the new millennium, modern modes of transit deliver us to our destinations with speed, efficiency and security.
But what about the future? What can we expect to see tomorrow? Where are we heading next?
This article will touch on electric trucks and buses, high-speed transit tunnels and self-driving vehicles, detailing three tech trends in transportation to look forward to. Whether you have only a passing interest in technology or you’re a self-proclaimed techie, transit is relevant, and we’ll show the direction it’s heading.
Electric Trucks and Buses
Increasing truck production and freight transportation threaten an already sensitive climate. As the VMT, or vehicle miles traveled, continue to grow over the coming years, carbon emissions from the trucking industry present a serious issue. Fortunately, advanced engine technologies provide a solution.
The industry has already started to shift toward electric vehicles, and projections show it’ll continue to move toward electrification. With contributions from Tesla, VW, Waymo-Peterbilt, Daimler, Paccar and other companies, the U.S. and Europe will have far less difficulty meeting their CO2 targets by 2020 to 2025.
Beyond the trucking industry, public transportation has also adopted eco-friendly technology. Though they’re not nearly as common as their standard, diesel-powered counterparts, battery electric buses and hybrid models have seen deployment in the U.S., Europe, China and parts of Brazil and India.
High-Speed Transit Tunnels
The Boring Company, privately held by Elon Musk, has constructed a high-speed transit tunnel in the Los Angeles area which promises to impress those in attendance when it opens on Dec. 18. Musk postponed the original event, moving it from Dec. 10, but the wait hasn’t diminished public interest.
Located in the southern suburb of Hawthorne in the Los Angeles area, the tunnel delivers vehicles from one location to another at up to 150 miles per hour. According to Musk’s recent tweets, it will include “modded but fully road-legal autonomous transport cars and ground-to-tunnel car elevators.”
In other words, the tunnel will propel cars on an electric sled through an underground freeway. Its purpose is to alleviate heavy traffic congestion and simplify transportation in areas that are difficult to navigate. Comparable to traditional railway systems in that way, its design incorporates similar components like air compressors.
All minutiae aside, as Musk expands and develops the Hyperloop concept, futuristic transportation is very much within our reach.
Self-driving vehicles are no longer the theoretical concept they once were. Technology has made enormous strides in the area of automation, and cars equipped with modern sensors and software can navigate busy streets, avoid obstacles and transport a passenger to their destination without requiring input.
That said, these systems are far from perfect, and accidents aren’t entirely uncommon. An autonomous car in Uber’s fleet struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz., earlier in the year, the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology. It also wasn’t the only injury involving automated cars.
Still, the potential of self-driving vehicles outweighs the risk, and many drivers welcome the change. It’ll afford them freedom during their commute to focus on other responsibilities, organizing their schedule for the day or answering emails from co-workers. They might choose to read a book or catch up on sleep.
Moving Toward the Future
Today’s technology has come a long way since the bicycle. Electric trucks and buses, high-speed transit tunnels and automated cars have driven transportation toward a future few could imagine a century ago, and where we’re heading next is impossible to say.
Whatever our destination, it’ll be fun getting there.
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