Transport of the future: myth or reality?
The “German troika” (Audi, BMW, Mercedes) has always set the development market for the automotive market and introduced new technologies. Laser optics at Audi, the massive use of turbines at BMW, a new body type called the “four-door coupe” at Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to these and other avant-garde artists, the automotive industry has now reached its peak, but if you imagine all this as a graph that you draw with your own hand, then the line goes not up or down. Further: a pencil pierces the paper through and rushes deeper into the unknown.
“Now we are all witnesses of a unique and incredibly difficult period. Global concerns are forced to calculate and form three trends at once: autonomous transport, electric power plants and new ownership formats. Car manufacturers have never been under such pressure, ”says Alexander Usov, CTRL Leasing Executive Director, which is a strategic financial provider providing the Mobility-as-a-Service segment. “Conventionally, in the 80s and 90s, they just needed to update the design of the model line, not forgetting to increase engine power and add new features.”
Today, the previous tasks are supplemented by the need to calculate dozens of scenarios in hundreds of countries around the world and simultaneously monitor the movements of transport start-ups, which previously, except for a condescending smile, caused nothing. All this requires incredible resources. What will the transport of the future look like?
The "city sky" will make a noise over us
In parallel with new concepts of ownership such as car sharing and subscription cars, new, quite fantastic, types of transport will appear. Mobility of the highest degree will be provided by urban aviation. The main requirement for it is vertical take-off and landing.
“Two types of passenger drones will become the most widespread: standard multicopter and tiltrotor aircraft with rotary engines, which first provide a vertical motion vector and then a horizontal one. Based on these two architectures, car manufacturers have already begun to present their developments, ”the expert predicts.
For example, Audi joined the Airbus and ItalDesign project to develop an autonomous two-seater modular machine that can move both on the ground and in the air. At the heart is a double passenger capsule. Over the streets, it is moved by a 4-screw flying module, and then loaded onto a 4-wheel platform to continue the route inside the city and flies away for charging.
If the device with four rings seemed beautiful to you - do not rush to conclusions. An airy VIP shuttle called Nexus is where the fiendish beauty merged into a futuristic design and vibrant color touches. This five-seat helicopter of the future is being developed by Bell and has already been “chartered” by several partners for the air transportation of the future. They are trying to imagine Nexus as an electric powered aircraft, but this is only formally: hybrid electric power plant with a gas turbine engine will give energy to electric rotors.
Bell will have to wait for another five years, so let's get back to the existing and working devices. First of all, I note the most successful lightweight aircraft project called Volocopter from eVolo. This multicopter with 18 screws weighs only 300 kg and does not fly in a virtual environment, but in the real sky. Daimler has already invested € 25 million in this project, and Frankfurt Airport plans to use the Volocopter as an air shuttle between the terminals and the urban transport infrastructure.
NASA, Airbus, Boeing and other giants are also investing in the development of similar aircraft, so the prospects for automotive brands here look vague.
Underneath we will see the vacuum holes of Ilona Mask
Musk voiced the idea of a supersonic vacuum train back in 2013, but today, on the basis of this concept, only two test sites were implemented: a 1.5-km pipe from SpaceX in California and a 500-meter Virgin Hyperloop One tunnel in Nevada. The fifth mode of transport, as Ilon Mask himself positions it, should be solar-powered; passenger capsules will fly inside the elevated pipeline at a speed of 500-1220 km / h with 30 second intervals unbelievable for such a pace. The main advantage of the idea of a vacuum train is the absence of air resistance and friction of the carriage’s supports on the surface. Like any private investor, Elon Mask tried to minimize the cost of the project, so he abandoned the idea of a complete vacuum in the pipe. According to his calculations, it is sufficient to maintain a forevacuum (this is 1/1000 of atmospheric pressure), which can be maintained with moderate power pumps, and the pipe walls can be made of ordinary steel 20–25 mm thick. In the same 2013, the project team published a 58-page project specification with all formulas and calculations, as Musk said that he did not plan to implement Hyperloop on his own. Since then, many companies have found investors for their version of the vacuum train, and in the coming years they should appear in China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and France. By the way, in 2015, Musk nevertheless returned to the project, and now his Boring Company is digging a tunnel for the first official Hyperloop route. A stretch of approximately 16.5 km will subsequently become part of the Washington - New York route.