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Conviction #9

Conviction #9

New areas of mobility or immobility will be explored… the day after tomorrow

By definition, it is impossible to predict the disruptive innovations that will turn mobility upside down in the future. We can, however, already imagine some fields of innovation. For instance, certain technologies could revolutionise long-distance travel, such as the promise of ion-powered aircraft or hyperloop. New horizons could also be explored: underground (as envisaged by Elon Musk) or in the stratosphere (cf. the SolarStratos(a) project). There is also concern about the potential for developing local airborne mobility in cities and/or their surroundings, with the imminent launch of air taxi-robots or even delivery drones.

Innovations are to be encouraged because, as well as pushing the boundaries of technology, they provide a broader vision of tomorrow’s mobility, and that of the day after:

  • Do these innovations change ways of thinking? Do they open up new horizons for researchers and entrepreneurs?
  • Will the technologies explored ultimately represent a breakthrough for mobility for the greatest number of people?
  • Do they bring environmental progress: what is the energy expended for the kilogrammes transported per kilometre? What is the relation between the weight of the container, i.e. plane, train, boat, bus…, displaced and the weight of the contents (goods and/or humans) it is transporting? What about the footprint? What are the other environmental impacts, here or elsewhere?

Lastly, in parallel with mobility, other technologies could, in contrast, help limit travel needs or time shift them. Will 3D printing, for instance, reduce goods transport? Will virtual and augmented reality make it possible for people meet for work purposes even more often, at a satisfactory distance and an environmentally acceptable cost? Will remote working, at home or in a local co-working space, limit journeys or shift them across the day – thus reducing rush hours? To date, opinion is divided and studies are conflicting. Nevertheless, avenues for reflection are open.

 

Footnote:

a www.solarstratos.com/en

KEY FIGURES

48%

of respondents to an international survey by ObSoCo wish to work locally

8

projects are developing Hyperloop technology in parallel worldwide

140 million

dollars a year is the sum invested by risk capital in flying cars since 2016

EXPERT EYE

Gérard Feldzer

ILLUSTRATIONS

© Wilhelmsen
©Wilhelmsen

Skyways: a delivery drone at sea

Singapore is the first to test the Airbus delivery drone for ports. The aim is to provide ships with a range of small maritime services that are vital and urgent. The first delivery was completed in 10 minutes for a ship located 1.5km off the coast.

© Kayak
©Kayak

Kayaking: travel from your sofa!

In Australia, Kayak launched the first virtual travel experience in 2018. Based on immersive virtual reality, it promises to offer the best destinations in the world in all their sensual glory.

© SolarStratos
©SolarStratos

SolarStratos: flying with solar energy

After completing the first around the world flight on a solar-powered boat, the adventurer Raphaël Domjan now wants to explore deep space aboard SolarStratos: the first solar aircraft to penetrate the stratosphere.

SHORT STORY

©Olivier Fontvieille

Travel memories

 

What if tomorrow, we travelled to the ends of the earth while staying at home?