Future Outlook: Collapsing Distances – Land, Space and Air

future of transport

Commuting is a pain and Elon Musk, who’s listed on Forbes’ “top 50th-richest person in the world” list is looking to change that.

He is a key propeller behind many cutting-edge innovations such as electric vehicles, solar panels, brain-computer interfaces, and tunnel construction. But what he is perhaps most well-known for is his revolutionary pursuits in transportation.

Replacing Trains

One of Musk’s companies Tesla is developing Hyperloop, a high-speed aluminium pod that will transport passengers across states at 800mph. To put it into context, an average 10-hour train ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles will be cut to about 35 minutes! The best part? It will cost less than a meal at a restaurant.

Hyperloop

(Photo Credit: Tesla Motors) Sketch released in 2013

The hypothetical idea announced in 2012 now takes shape in the form of a 57-page white paper detailing its design concept. A track approximately one mile in length has been built at its headquarters in California for innovators and university students to conduct testing. Its Hyperloop Pod Competition for students to design and build the best pod prototype is now into its fourth installment.

Colonising Mars

As if redefining land transport is not enough, Musk is also working to make space, and even inter-planetary, travel accessible and affordable through another company of his, SpaceX. So far, it has made history as the first commercial company to launch and dock a spacecraft into the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX was also awarded contracts by NASA to advance its work on sending humans up to ISS.

Crew Dragon

(Photo Credit: SpaceX) Interior of Crew Dragon, a next-generation spacecraft designed to carry humans

Considering that his ultimate goal is to set up a colony on Mars by 2040 to eliminate the risk of human extinction, I would say if you ever dreamt of travelling to outerspace, your best bet is with Musk.

Planes to Rockets

Then, Musk thought, “if you build a ship that’s capable of going to Mars, what if you take that same ship and go from one place to another on Earth?”

That was exactly how the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world pitched his idea of a city-to-city rocket service at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia back in 2017.

Codenamed BFR (short for Big F***ing Rocket), the invention will transport you to and fro any two points on the globe at supersonic (faster than sound) speeds, making aeroplanes we know today irrelevant.

Musk aims to make the cost for a spot there about the same as you would for an economy flight. Making the math work is a real challenge on its own and it’s going to take some time to make BFR a reality but we will all be patiently waiting.

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