Futuristic public transportation is driven by innovation and time-saving and eco-sustainability criteria. Technology gives many benefits, so why should we spend 38 hours per year jammed in the traffic? Innovation helps us.
Soon self-driving cars will be reality, and self-driving public transportation has been the rule for some years now. Just think about Line 5 of Milan Metro, a self-driving locomotive, but also about the experimenting self-driving buses. Another clue towards this direction comes from electric shared cars in the great cities, or from bike sharing: true ecological and effective alternatives to urban traffic.
Innovation went beyond. Here are some innovative examples of futuristic public transportation systems.
What’s the difference between magnetic levitation (maglev) trains and traditional trains? The former trains do not have rails: the locomotives hover and slide over magnetized rails. Thanks to this magnetic force, trains move upward and forward at hig speeds, guaranteeing less energy consumption. Maglev trains are also energetically efficient, but have one issue: an high implementation cost. Currently, they are working in some cities in Germany and China, but will worn everywhere around 2030.
Traffic jams in big cities caused by a great amount of cars circulating is one of the greatest problems of industrialized society. Everyone will still own his car for years, but soon smart roads will be necessary. What are we talking about? Smart roads are computerized roads, basing on the number of tires hitting the road, in order to understand traffic patterns and inform drivers about them. Smart roads could prevent traffic jams. Unfortunately, the costs of these road are high for the moment, and we have to wait about ten years.
Lo Series Japanese trains
Magnetic levitation trains have already an application in Japan, with Lo Series trains. They consist in seven coaches hovering 4 inches from the rails, moved by electrically charged magnets and guaranteeing stability and comfort. During tests, the speed high was 375 miles per hour. Commercial maglev trains could be working in 2027 between Tokyo and Nagoya, 177 miles away from each other, so that passengers could reach them in 40 minutes.
Hyperloop transportation system
Among alternatives for rail transportation, Maglev are not the only option. A competitor is Hyperloop transportation system (we already talked about this in the article with Elon Musk’s innovations). Hyperloop has coaches driving into a long pressurized tube. It promises to shorten the travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles (a six-hours car drive) to less than an hour. The first Hyperloop train could start in 2021, but the competition to be the first in the market is very high.
Mercedes’ Future Bus
Mercedes is a global leader in buses manufacturing, and the brand has something to say in innovation in public transportation. On July 2016, Mercedes’ Future Bus successfully completed a 20 kilometers journey between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Haarlem, a nearby town, with normal traffic conditions. Mercedes’ Future Bus is able to recognize and communicate with traffic lights, so it can organically drive into traffic. It does that thanks to a camera system, a radar and GPS systems. Mercedes aims to use the same technology behind Future Bus – named Future Truck – in the total automation of self-driving trucks within the next 10 years.
Il Transit Elevated Bus: the bus passing above cars
The technology behind self-driving buses may be surprising, but does not solve the main issue: eliminate traffic. In China Transit Elevated Buses (TEB) were experimented in August 2016. They are buses passing above cars, built as coaches with a height of 2 metres and a lenght of 22. They have enough space to fit 300 passengers and slide over special trails. These kind of buses could resolve some important issues in the future: it is estimated that they could reduce traffic jams up to 30%. First, though, the problem of safety should be faced.
Futurist pods in New Delhi
In Gurgaon, a New Delhi suburb where technology giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple have their Indian headquarters, there will soon be electric pods which could alleviate traffic conditions of commuters between the city and the suburb. With 16 stations spreading over a 16 km distance and a maximum speed of 40 mph, pods will be suspended to rails and will be able to take over 30.000 passengers a day. Pods are already working at Heathrow in London, and within the end of the year will also come to Singapore.