6 Dec 2017
BIG PICTURE

What science fiction transportation methods will really exist in the future?

It’s not only engineers who have ideas about how we will move about in the future – science fiction stories are also a source of inspiration. The futurologist Marianne Reeb dares to take a look into the crystal ball and reveals which concepts really may move us about at some point in the future.

Marianne, what are the deciding factors for turning fantasy into reality?

“Inspiration for possible scenarios can, of course, be looked for in many places. Also in science fiction.

Whereby these ideas are generally oriented far into the future and are, and will remain, often rather utopian.

Futurologists, however, develop new trends on the basis of a range of more tangible aspects such as: what current trends are there and how will the world develop as a result of these trends?

We also look here at other branches, such as architecture and traffic and city planning, but also at contemporary art, as it is the interaction between different developments which then indicates a certain direction.

The most important question in the development of a trend is, however, not whether technology makes the corresponding idea possible, but whether people would actually use it. Only then, will an idea be extensively accepted.

And, of course, the success of a trend depends on many different things – a presentable first approach, which strikes a nerve at the right point in time and is implemented through agile testing by many.”

 

Ok, that means that some ideas remain dreams – but some can also become reality. Let’s take a look at one:

What about, for example, drones which are designed to transport people?

“These passenger drones will definitely become reality. They won’t, however, be an option for the broad masses.

Although everyone has daydreamed of simply flying away instead of having to sit in a traffic jam, if you think about how a helicopter takes off and flies, for example, then it’s not quite that easy.

What’s more, there’s a big trend in the cities for less noise and consequently a better quality of life. As drones make a noise, then they don’t really fit into this trend.

I do think that this form of transport, however, can be used in the future for urgent matters – such as patient transfer or other, extremely important journeys. The use of such drones could also be very welcome in areas where mobility at ground level poses a safety risk.

Another problem is that these drones – at least initially – are very expensive and will thus only be of interest to the more affluent.

My conclusion is therefore: It will happen and become part of our mobility, but it won’t be a mainstream option.”

 

Will these “congestion vehicles”, which can be folded together and flown over the traffic jam, ever become a reality?

“In my opinion, they could actually become the bus or city train of the future.

Cities worldwide are searching for practical uses for this “3rd dimension” – i.e. the space immediately above the streets.

Some attempts, such as building a freeway higher for example, have not resolved the problem, they have actually resulted in creating even more traffic. Aerial tramways, however, show good results internationally – even though they may not be quite as spectacular.

This means: Whether it will actually be a foldable congestion vehicle is difficult to predict. But one thing is certain, the space above the streets, above the congestion, will be developed.”

 

What about the development of hyperloops?

“That’s difficult to say because there’s not a lot of information available yet, except for a few initial tests. It’s not clear, for example, whether the human body can actually (durably) withstand this type of speed.

Other, normal aspects also have to be clarified – such as how the getting in and out of such a form of transport would be organized.

It is therefore possible that it could become more widespread, but probably more for the transport of freight, not people or living beings.

 

Will we all soon have the opportunity of being able to travel great distances in space, e.g. to Mars?

“Quite clearly, this has been a dream of mankind for a long time. And there are several visionary companies and even projects which are already researching this – but only very isolated and elitist.

And to be truthful, we are still wondering about what landing on the moon has really brought us.

I think that the colonizing of other planets and long-range travel through space will still remain a utopia. And when it does actually happen, then it won’t be a solution for the entire population of the world but, at most, for very few.

 

What do you think about beaming or warp drive? Will they ever be possible?

“To be quite honest, I have no idea how they could possibly work technically. They really are pure utopia at the moment.

And to keep on hoping is not really worthwhile – we should instead realistically consider what the next development stage could be.

There’s already quite a lot happening in many areas: Elevator manufacturers are considering, for example, how to develop elevators which can also move horizontally, and transport companies are planning how to develop first and last mile connections.”

 

Many thanks for the insight into the future, Marianne!

Which forms of propulsion/means of transport of the future interest you most and why? Share your views with us in the comments!

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