The 1960s television series The Jetsons imagined transportation as a futuristic utopia of elaborate robotic contraptions and whimsical inventions including the flying car. While this vision isn’t yet a reality, significant advances in transportation have occurred since the age of George Jetson. Most modes of transport today generally use fossil fuels. The reason for this is the ease of use and the existence of mature technologies harnessing this fuel source. Fossil fuels represent a concentrated, relatively compact source of energy. The drawbacks of such transportation media are that they are heavily polluting, and rely on limited energy sources. Many ideas exist which try to either harness renewable forms of energy, use fossil fuel more efficiently or use human power, or some hybrid of these, to move people and things.
Sustainability & Transport
The greening of the automobile industry has begun in the 21st century with electric vehicles being offered to the consumer market. The first company to successfully create a vehicle for long-range motoring was Tesla Motors, founded in Silicon Valley in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars. With instant torque, incredible power, and zero emissions, Tesla’s products would be cars without compromise. Each new generation would be increasingly affordable, helping the company work towards its mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport. For instance the Tesla Motors Model ‘S’ (pictured) is a completely new breed of automobile powered by electricity and storing its power on batteries. The cost of a new Model ‘S’ is a steep $120,000 NZD, making this car one of the most expensive options available on the market today.
Possible Modes of Future Transport
Personal rapid transit (PRT), also referred to as podcars, is a public transport mode featuring small automated vehicles operating on a network of specially built guideways.
A space elevator would permit vehicles to travel along the cable from Earth’s surface, directly into space or orbit, without the use of large rockets. An Earth-based space elevator would consist of a cable with one end attached to the surface near the equator and the other end in space beyond geostationary orbit (35,800 km altitude).
Caption: A space elevator is conceived as a cable fixed to the equator and reaching into space. A counterweight at the upper end keeps the center of mass well above geostationary orbit level. This produces enough upward centrifugal force from Earth’s rotation to fully counter the downward gravity, keeping the cable upright and taut. Climbers carry cargo up and down the cable.
The TF-X™ is the practical realisation of the dream of countless visions of the future; it is designed to be the flying car for all of us. In order to achieve this long-sought-after vision, Terrafugia will focus the TF-X™ program with clear goals that enhance the safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal transportation.
SkyTran is a Personal Rapid Transit system first proposed by inventor Douglas Malewicki in 1990. The SkyTran is a lightweight two-passenger vehicle suspended from elevated passive magnetic levitation tracks.
Caption: Artist’s rendering of the proposed Skytran design
A backpack helicopter is a helicopter motor and rotor and controls assembly that can be strapped to a person’s back, so that they can walk about on the ground wearing it, and can use it to fly. It uses a harness like a parachute harness and should have a strap between the legs (so that the pilot does not fall out of the harness during flight). Some designs may use a ducted fan design to increase upward thrust. Several inventors have tried to make backpack helicopters, with mixed results.
Caption: The Pentecost HX-1 Hoppi-Copter, a functional backpack helicopter.
Toyota i-ROAD is a new form of transport consisting of a compact, all-electric, three-wheeled personal mobility vehicle (PMV) with a comfortable, enclosed two-seater cabin. New Toyota ‘Active Lean’ technology automatically balances the vehicle when cornering or travelling over stepped surfaces. Zero emissions, near-silent EV powertrain gives a range of up to 30 miles, with recharging from a conventional power supply taking just three hours.
For more about this exhibition view the catalogue below.