A Bus Over The Highway
Possessing the most developed railway network in the world, it makes sense that the most innovative and ingenious ideas regarding trains come from China. Take, for example, the “Flying Bus.” Developed in order to reduce traffic jams on Chinese highways, this buzzed-about aero-bus will travel above the highway on two thin, outer pathways, leaving the space directly underneath the bus free for cars to pass under. It will be able to carry between 1200 and 1400 passengers at a speed of about 40 mph. Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co, the company in charge of the project, hopes to see the arrival of the Flying Bus around 2013.
The MagLev (Magnetic Levitation)
Already familiar to some, the MagLev is a train model that has been in testing stages since 1997. First used in Japan, it was then tested out in Germany with a model known as the Transrapid – an endeavor that unfortunately ended in a fatal accident during a test run in 2006. Further development has continued, however, this train has been able to reach a speed of almost 300 mph by using a system that literally glides through the air. This revolutionary technology, based around magnetic fields and levitation, is being worked on and invested in by such countries as the United States, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and the Netherlands.
In the world of realistic yet innovative transportation projects, you will always find some version of the SkyTran - a completely new system of public transportation designed by NASA Ames Research. Although we have no idea when this prototype will be ready for general use, we do know that these rails, in addition to serving important points of interest in various cities - at a speed of more than 60 mph - will do so from a birds-eye view. Ultimately you’ll be able to get on and off the train from the tops of buildings! Not only that, but you’ll be able to borrow the SkyTran for your own personal use! Imagine, your very own taxi waiting for you at the window of your office on the 25th floor…now that’s classy.
The transportation of the future cares about your privacy. The British company Advanced Transport Systems has found a solution to your frustrating early morning commute: fed up with crowded subways and their colorful mosaic of surprising odors, they have created the ULTra. This rapid transit gondola - which actually waits for its passengers before starting – is similar to the SkyTran in that there is no need for a conductor – you simply type in your destination via an on-board computer. The first ULTra line, at Heathrow Airport in London, has been in testing stages since 2008, but is still not ready to open its doors. Regardless, it is only a matter of time before these little gondolas will be getting you home in time for tea.
The Wubbo Ockels Superbus
Although no one really knows why the Wubbo Ockels group has decided to go by such a strange name, you can’t deny that they’ve got some pretty great ideas – particularly in regards to their Superbus project. The concept is a futuristic bus that provides convenient urban transport at great speeds - over 150 mph to be exact! Because of its fantastic speed, this futuristic transportation machine will need specific traffic lanes as it will use existing roads and highways. Additionally, the Superbus won’t have a precise route – this way, it can serve all of its passengers' various destinations. A prototype is currently being tested.
The MonoMetro 2012
For the 2012 Olympic Games, the British capital wants to show itself off, so it's planning on employing the services of the MonoMetro. Simply put, this is a suspended monorail system which connects all of the most visited sites in London. Its various routes cover no less than 167 miles and it can accommodate more passengers than the usual Tube (London's subway system). And let's not forget about the cost – it is close to 60% less expensive than building a new tramway line. We fear, however, that a project of this scale might be slightly too ambitious to be ready by the next Olympic Games. Visitors may just have to be satisfied with the regular, iconic double-decker buses that London is so famous for.
The A350H Airliner
Designer Victor Uribe has done it again with the A350H Airliner. For the structural design of this futuristic plane, he was inspired by dolphins and their particular kind of aerodynamics. Apart from its unique outer look, the A350H boasts other innovative features, like the ability to take off and land vertically. It’s fuel is also different from today’s aircraft, since it uses cryogenised hydrogen in high pressure reservoirs. This means that the plane will be able to move at impressive speeds without polluting our precious planet. Finally, the interior contains other surprises for its travellers, such as holographic monitors for each passenger. The A350H is clearly poised to be the plane of tomorrow!
The Supersonic Green Machine
While this captivating image may lead you to believe that our future transportation will bring us out of the stratosphere, that isn’t actually the case with the Supersonic Green Machine. Created by Lockheed Martin - within the framework of a design contest for NASA – the concept behind this theoretical plane relies mostly on the fact that it will eliminate as many flying pollutants as possible. Silent, due to its inverted V tail, and respectful of the environment, it will also be a supersonic airplane, as the name would imply. Similar models may realistically start to emerge anytime between now and 2030.
The EOSEAS Liner
Although often forgotten, boats still remain an important means of transportation, particularly in countries that have archipelagos with islands too close together to accommodate individual airports. The engineers at STX Europe have thus imagined an ecological ocean-liner with five sails (which technically makes it more of a pentamaran). The semi-rigid sails allow for fuel to be sipped without having to borrow energy from the ships solar panels –which furnish the rest ship with all of its other electricity needs. The EOSEAS is an economic and ecological model whose structural concepts will undoubtedly be applied to other ships over the course of the the next few years.
Although it’s not always considered as a type of public transportation, the taxi is still usually your fastest option if you want to get across town without using a personal car. The goals of the taxi of the future run along the same lines as its rival modes of public transportation: maximizing environmental protection while minimizing cost. Thus the idea of the UniCab was born: an environmentally friendly, driver-free taxi that had even been adapted for handicapped customers, thanks to an access ramp and a place designated for wheelchairs. In short, this is a taxi that responds to a multitude of needs thanks to a few very simple adjustments.
The New “Aerotrain”
Although the MagLev may seem to be the future of transportation in Japan, the researchers at the Kohama Institute of Fluid Science Laboratory (at the University of Tohoku) are putting their chips in with a different “aerotrain” model. Created by Frenchman Jean Bertin a few decades ago, the goal of this model is to bypass trains’ usual weight problems – problems that cause significant friction on the wheels and thus a large consumption of energy. This aerotrain would be propelled with the help of wings – blades that are fueled by wind turbines placed along its route - and also a bit of solar energy. Gliding 10 centimeters above the ground, it would be able to achieve speeds of over 185 mph. The only worry is that in its present state, the aerotrain can only carry a few passengers at a time. However, new prototypes, which are faster and more spacious, are in the works.
Paris has its barges, and Tokyo now has its Himiko. No, it’s not a prototype or a concept –it’s one of the first “marine buses” in actual use. It serves many riverside stops in different parts of the city and is used by hundreds of people throughout the day. The Himiko is considered to be pearl of innovation because of its aerodynamic silhouette and its numerous windows that give its passengers an excellent view. Its unique design is the work of Liji Matsumoto.