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June 21, 2012

Future Tech – Travelling light (trains, planes and bicycles)

Travel is changing. The way you get from A to B will soon no longer be the usual bus, plane, taxi combo. There are people out there who are trying to make things easier, lighter, better, faster for us all.

The blueprint for future travel?

The news has been all over the place over the last few days that a vacuum train will possibly soon be able to take passengers from London to New York, or New York to Beijing, providing inspiration for this post. In ridiculously short times. Travelling at speeds from 4,000-6,000 kmh (approx. 2,500-4,000 mph) depending on which report you read, the technology works just like the tubes I have seen in some supermarkets for transferring money. It’s a tube system with all the air sucked out from one end, so inserting a pod of documents sends it scooting to the main office. Substitute a pod for a train, and the main office for New York, and that’s how the train will potentially work. But what would the ride be like at 2,500 mph? How would it start? Presumably like a roller coaster, which you don’t see full of businessmen everyday. Only time will tell, but apparently this could be reality in about 10 years.

via Gizmag

And will your airplane journey be changing soon too? The Solar Impulse (as I reported a few weeks back) isn’t meant to be a passenger plane. Yet. But it’s making great steps in proving that solar-powered aircraft are possible – they can fly in overcast conditions and even at night. As ever with these things, someone has to try it first, so the rest of us can enjoy it later. Imagine if Wilbur and Orville (Wright) had just not bothered to try flying, or Henry (Ford) hadn’t thought to build a car.

I never thought I’d be writing about a bicycle made in a guy’s kitchen as being a ground-breaking, potential world record-setting machine. Twice. But after its appearance on MMSM last week, the world’s fastest bicycle deserves further mention. Graeme Obree is a world record-breaking cyclist, and he’s planning to go at over 100 mph on his new bike. It’s going to be a super light bicycle, built from scavenged parts, including bits of a saucepan from his kitchen! I am *so* hoping he can take this bike to the US in September and prove that a bit of human lateral thinking and dedication to the cause can outdo all the technicians and laboratories that have tried before. Take that, lab science!

So, all in all, travel in the next few years is going to be quicker, lighter, and easier for all thanks to the efforts of a few. Thanks, the few. What future tech can you see making your daily travels easier? Drop me a comment in the box below, or shout out on Twitter (#NCFutureTech should do it).