Forward ho! On advancing transportation, it’s a brave new world

Continuing along the lines of the discussion of Tuesday’s post: “U-turn: Our driving profile, on taking the eco-smart road and what that will take,” in today’s thread, considered is where transportation is headed generally. Encouraging signs there are. Exciting times are these.

The change in transportation development is coming absent my directly noticing it. What I mean is, what I see today in my own orbit looks very much like the way it did when I actually started to first pay attention – close attention.

NASA’s Apollo 13 lunar mission liftoff

There are buses, cars and trucks traveling the roadways. The trains I spotted rolling on iron rails as a child look very much like they do now. Planes fly by high in the sky. Boats and ships still navigate waters and even though I’ve never seen a real rocket launch, the way this is done is pretty much the same as it was in the early days of space flight.

That said, we are on the cusp of a sea-change in transportation development.

The reason I know is on account of buzzwords like: Hyperloop; driverless, self-driving and autonomous; fuel cell; and hybrid. They run the gamut, don’t they?

Not surprising at all was when I learned about a train in Australia powered completely and exclusively by the sun – it has solar photovoltaic panels integrated into the body, into the exterior shells of the train cars themselves. And of rail-based conveyances powered by electricity generated via a diesel engine, or electricity delivered by way of overhead wire or electrified third-rail, well, the prospect of these possibly becoming obsolete some day and replaced by either batteries or fuel cells, does have a certain appeal to it, I have to admit. It’s not a question of if, but when.

Magnetic levitation: Imagine land travel in a vehicle whose exterior surface doesn’t even make road- or railway track contact, no vehicle-to-surface contact whatsoever, but is still able to move from place to place, whether accomplished out in the elements or through an enclosed evacuated tube shielded from them. This isn’t the stuff of dreams – it’s science fact. We now have rockets that land as they take off – in the fully upright position. And, there may even be a day when energy from the sun is all that’s required to enable them to overcome the gravity of Earth. That would be something!

This is all fantastic stuff. Not just because of all the advancements made in the area of propulsion, but that this process can be and is being done without both the noise and air pollution we’ve gotten so accustomed to experiencing. To many, this concept may even seem strange. Given the choice to travel cleanly and noise-free or in a way that not only disturbs peace and quiet but is disruptive and damaging in the environmental sense, that’s a given: the one I have the least experience with. With this way of travel, there is much that’s good and very little, if anything, that isn’t. And, who wouldn’t want that?

In transportation development it’s a brave new world. And, oh, a reminder: Transport and travel in this present day and age is not all it can be. Not even close. And, on top of this, it’s unsustainable. In other words, it lacks the staying power in terms of getting us from here to there over the long-term. It’s renewable resources, first and foremost, that will get us from point A to B more efficiently, safely, comfortably, reliably, quietly and will do so in a way that does not impact air negatively.

These are exciting and promising times indeed!

Image (upper): NASA

This post has been updated.

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