The history of future travel / Hong Kong 3, ABC Far North

Humans are born with the travel itch, always eager to travel to and experience exotic lands.

In the last 100 years we have stepped up the speed and accessibility of long haul travel, with the cost of a Melbourne – London flight in the 1940’s costing of 122X the average weekly salary and taking about 3 days, and today it’s under 1 week salary and soon under 20 hours.

And there’s loads more of us flying, in 2016 3.6 billion people flew in 2030 this should rise to 6.7 billion, with the largest growth sectors in the Asia pacific regions..

On the eve of Qantas landing its first Dreamliner plane in Australia, and the promise of Perth – London direct and other long haul non stop flights on the horizon, we chatted this week about the future of long haul travel and asked will we ever see another significant change in the way we travel and the speed we travel at.

Last week Sir Richard Branson announced a £186m investment in Virgin Hyperloop One, the fast train recently touted by Elon Musk, and was first spoken about in the 1890’s, thats puts people inside a pod that is inside a vacuum tube and send them from Melbourne to Sydney in under an hour.

Dubai also announced last week the introduction of a face scanning walk through immigration tunnel that figures out who you are, where you’ve been, and what your visit intentions are all within the 15 seconds it takes you to walk through the tunnel and stare at the pretty pictures along the way, if all’s good your literally green lighted and “Welcome to Dubai” if not your red carded and a human steps in to have a chat.

One of my favorite all time future travel modes is the space elevator, Arthur C Clarke wrote about it in his 1979 The Fountains of Paradise,  and scientists and engineers have believed for many decades that one day we will be able to build a space elevator that we can travel the 36000 kilometres from down here to a space station or hotel up there (most probably a 5 day journey). As strange as this may seem Japanese firm Obayashi is investing in it and exploring nano fibre carbon as perhaps being the game changing technology that allows us to finally build it.

One future certainty is that we will continue to travel, but how and in what and how long it will take are all up for innovation and invention, so listen in now to these two interviews and then share your thoughts and Sci-fi dreams of future travel.

Kier Shorey, ABC Far North, 23rd October 2017 (12 mins 31 secs)

Barry Nicholls, ABC WA Drive Regional, 6 October 2017 (12 mins 31 secs)




Getting around in 2030 – #FutureTransport \ Keynote, 4BC, ABC WideBay,

8For centuries we grew up, worked, learnt, dated, married, lived, and grew old within 25 miles of where we were born. Then came the wheel and we moved ourselves a little further, the steam engine a little further, the automobile a lot further, the airplane a hell of a lot further, but then came the internet and the necessity to travel out to see the world ceased, because for the first time ever in our existence the world now comes to us anywhere anytime on any device and we can live, see, play, work, date, learn and anything else – anywhere at any time.

This new digital space, has opened up new distribution models, new learning models, new food production models, new work models and the list goes on.

In my keynote last week to Intelligent Transport Systems Australia I posited that our need for transportation has irrevocably changed and is currently, and for the foreseeable future, going to continue to be challenged, reshaped and re-imagined.

To view my keynote click on the central Prezi symbol wait for it to load and
then use the arrow keys at the bottom of the box to move around.

The first of these influences is the internet itself, but other change agents abound and some of them include:

Big Data which will increasingly allow us to understand what’s happening on our roads, rails,seas and skies and to make swift purposeful decisions based on up to the minute data and predictive artificial intelligence inputs, we’ve already seen Qantas and other transport companies switch over to technology intermediaries to assist their staff in making timely and “perfect” decisions.

Internet of things and connected smart cities will over the next years virtually connect all of our vehicles, traffic and cityscape objects allowing each to share with the other information about driving intent, road conditions and what’s ahead. In the very near future buses may not work to a strict timetable and set of stops, but instead you’ll be able to virtually hail it to come to get you, rather than you going to get it.

Autonomous cars within 10 years will be a serious road contender with an expectation that in 2025 1 in 4 new cars sold will be capable of being put into auto pilot, when you don’t wish to drive yourself. We’re already seeing this used in the mining industry with huge trucks being driven remotely through the outback of Australia to and from the mines and depots. Daimler announced last week their soon to be released platooning auto pilot trucks capable of  finding other trucks going in the same direction and joining them in an aerodynamic, sleek and safe convoy.

3D printers will bespoke produce goods, spare parts, clothing, food and lots more in our homes, in our retail outlets and wherever we are, leading to an eventual downturn in the need to transport goods to warehouses, distributors and retailers for storage for later hopeful consumer purchase.

The Sharing Economy and changing consumer demands is also altering the need for transportation. Car ownership is being disrupted by car sharing and car ride schemes. The growing cultural desire of having use of products, homes, offices, clothes, pets, furniture, cars, and other objects rather than owning them has spawned entirely new industries connecting those that have with those that want and in doing so is slowly taking some of the need away from transporting multiple goods along our transportation corridors.

Project and task-work is re-framing the 9-5 commute and as we increasingly change where and when we work the traditional road congestion and traffic will reshape itself.

Transport’s where, when, how, why and what are all changing, but of course we will continue to travel and in fact travel more than we ever have before, but for very different reasons and in very different ways.

But my concern is that every decision being made about our roads, highways, parking, airports, train stations, ports and transport routes are being made on yesterday’s usage, transposed onto tomorrow’s world.

If we have apps like Waze successfully using the collected wisdom of road users to redirect each car in real-time. If we have people commuting to work and elsewhere at different hours instead of within tight time-frames. If autonomous cars can pick and choose directions according to road conditions and personal preferences. If we have 3D printers printing requisites on demand and in-situ then our roads and transport decisions need to factor in these and so many other new horizon influences.

We must start to think about, set cultural rules around and legislate for autonomous cars, work though licencing and insurance needs. We need to factor in changing traffic flows and mass transportation needs, there are lots we need to do before we go to our default position of widening and expanding highways for traffic conditions that may not be present when the roads comes to reality.

We must be brave and truly factor in tomorrow’s needs and technologies before we merely default to replicating yesterdays solutions and infrastructure over and over again.

And because a futurist conversation is never complete without some science fiction transportation possibilities, here’s 3 of my favourites:

gravity train which could travel through the core of the earth and take you from anywhere to anywhere on the planet in 42 minutes and 12 seconds,

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop that will place you into a vacuum sealed tube and woosh you 6,500 kilometres in 45 minutes at the speed of 1,223 kilometres per hour.

and the space elevator a long desired piece of kit, that now has Obayashi Corp in Japan saying it may be possible from 2030 onwards as carbon fibre improves enough to allow them to set a thin vertical track that will allow us to hop in an elevator and spend 7 days travelling up to the nearest space station or space hotel.

These were just some of the questions I posed and future landscapes I explored with the worlds smartest transportation thinkers at their conference and with my regular audiences on 4BC and ABC radio WideBay, so have look at my keynote (above) and have a listen to the interviews and then share your thoughts on what you think, or want, in tomorrow’s transport system.

4BC Clare Brady – 19 May (21 mins 21 secs) and thanks to all the listeners who phoned in – great questions and let’s keep talking

ABC radio – WideBay –  David Dowsett – 18 May (7 minutes 9 seconds)

Travel Extraordinaire

George Jetson lives, well almost.

This new drive / fly incarnation is one of the most oft questions get I asked, will be available for sale at this year’s New York auto show and for a deposit of $10,000 you can reserve yourself one.

If that isn’t enough Mercedes Benz is working on a prototype invisible car ; Google is perfecting the driverless car and Japan’s Obayashi Corporation is working on an elevator that will take you up to your local space station – so all in all tomorrow’s travel choices are set to change.

These are just a few of the stories Adelaine, Clem and I chatted our way through in this week’s ABC Radio Australia’s Future Tech segment.

Listen now:

and listen live each Wednesday at 5.35 p.m.