Over the next decade, the idea of getting to work on time, heading out to the hinterlands for your family vacation or even going to the game will become much easier. Cars will drive themselves along pre-determined routes. Trains will use new magnetic rail systems.
The best part? These innovations are not just spinning their wheels. They are set to debut within the next 10 years or have already started transporting us.
“New technologies have the potential to make our roads and transit systems safer, greener and more efficient,” Gregory Winfree, the administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, told FoxNews.com. “We are working hard to ensure that these technologies can be integrated safely into our existing system.”
1. Autonomous vehicles
A robotic driver can think faster and smarter than a human driver and look in all directions at once. That’s the idea behind autonomous driving, where you take your hands off the wheel and let the car do the driving for you. Ford has already announced a project called Traffic Jam Assist and Cadillac is working on something called Super Cruise that lets the car take over.
Still, Google is leading the charge. It now uses a fleet of about 24 Lexus RX450h vehicles that have logged a total of about 500,000 miles on California roads. The cars can look for exit ramps, detect buildings, stop suddenly for other cars and change speeds as needed.
One of the most exciting innovations in transportation has to be the Hyperloop train. Rising on nearly airless tubes at 800 mph, the train will transport you from LA to San Francisco in just 30 minutes. Elon Musk announced a design scheme back in August, but FoxNews.com has learned the concept is more than a pipe dream it is now a real technology in development.
3. Maglev trains
“Magnetic levitation” trains are not just a lofty dream held over from the ’50s. They are already in operation in Shanghai and Japan. South Korea is building a maglev train that will operate within the Incheon Airport, and China reportedly has a second maglev train in development.
A magnetic force lifts and propels the train using a minimal amount of energy compared to diesel-powered or electric-powered trains. The trains whisk passengers along at up to 310 miles per hour. A planned maglev train will transport passengers over 200 miles between Nagoya and Tokyo in just 40 minutes, helping to free congested roads, reduce air pollution, and reduce accidents.
4. Nuclear-Powered Cars
Even though everybody seems to be terrified of nuclear energy these days, it could very well be a huge part of our future. And there’s one American company that’s powering headlong into the radioactive transportation business. For years, Laser Power Systems (LPS) has been touting the benefits of thorium, a radioactive element that’s largely responsible for generating the heat at the center of the Earth.
Say hello to the Harley Davidson’s time-traveling nephew. This concept vehicle is sleek and streamlined and vaguely motorcycle-shaped, but it’s also enclosed, with plenty of room for luggage, and it’s powered by either batteries, biofuel, or a fuel cell. You can drive it manually, but it can also navigate itself on certain dedicated pathways. Oh, and it’s city-friendly: It drives on four wheels, but tilts up on two for easy parking. On top of all that, it’s collapsible.