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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Transportation of The Future

So maybe floating cars aren’t today’s reality. Maybe our world is not being run by robots. Though you have to admit, Google’s self-driving cars are pretty close.

If you’ve been a longtime Mountain View resident, you’ve probably noticed the exponential growth in traffic recently. With more residents, we have more cars, and more people on the road, making it take longer to drive from point A to point B. To solve this issue of traffic and time, two California companies are investing in futuristic public transportation that will save time, save energy, and change the face of transportation.

SkyTran has been working under NASA at Moffett Field to build a suspended monorail that lifts passengers several meters above the ground. The two-passenger vehicles operate on a grid, and they're programmed with your destination to take you along the fastest route, without ever having to stop like most trains do. 

Though not implemented as mass transit quite yet, SkyTran is already boasting all its wonderful  features: for one, it will have practically zero emissions and run on renewable energy! It also promises zero traffic, it can forever expand as the “grid” grows, and it’s incredibly safe and fast (although there are no indications of just how fast quite yet). What’s the downside? Well, we would have suspended vehicles taking up our precious skyline, but hey, maybe that’s something we can accept in the near future. 

Hyperloop One is proposing a way to travel distances of hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes. Thanks to a vacuum technology, small pods carrying 6-100 people will travel through tubes that use a “custom electric motor to accelerate and decelerate a levitated pod through a low pressure tube,” according to their website.
You may have heard Elon Musk is behind this, but in fact, his company SpaceX is simply open-sourcing third party companies and challenging them to design a hyperloop. Hyperloop’s big claim is that you don’t just save money (it would cost just the same as a bus fare), but you save perhaps the most valuable thing of all: time. If implemented properly, Hyperloop One could begin transporting passengers in 2021, just a mere 5 years away. Could you imagine a future where it would take less than an hour to travel from San Francisco to LA?

 The advantages to a successful Hyperloop would include energy efficiency, a reduced environmental footprint, reduced traffic, saved money, and of course, saved time.  It does have its downsides, namely being the fact that some of this technology sounds unfeasible (and nonexistent) to several scientists.  But nevertheless, this is the future we are talking about!

So what do you think is going to be our primary mode of transit five, ten, twenty years from now? Will it be self-driving cars that populate the roadways, will Teslas take up our household garages, or will it be innovative mass transit solutions like SkyTran and Hyperloop?

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

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