Frictionless vehicles and binary power will define transportation in the world ahead
Transportation technology is progressing at a much slower pace than some of the other sciences such as information technology, biotech, and nanotechnology. As an example, the world’s human speed record was set in 1969, a full 37 years ago, when Thomas Stafford, John Young, and Gene Cernan flew in Apollo 10 at 24,790 mph. While there is much talk about flying at a speed that approaches the speed of light, very little effort is actually being expended in this area.
However, transportation technology is about to move ahead more rapidly in the coming years with the advent of two radically new technologies – frictionless vehicles and binary power.
Throughout history we have learned that the two principle driving forces of humanity are freedom and control. While current automotive technology gives us the freedom to drive as fast or slow as our vehicle will take us, and control over our timing and direction, we are still restricted to driving on the ground and we have a hornet’s nest of laws to contend with regarding speed, flow, and operation.
Understanding the “freedom and control” drivers is key to understanding the future of transportation. Any new forms of transportation that do not measurably improve our sense of freedom or give us added control of our lives will likely fail in the marketplace.
In the near future, automotive companies will focus on fully automated vehicles where people can “punch in” or “speak” the place they want to go to and the vehicle will automatically take them there. This “control feature” will open up huge additional markets for automotive companies to sell to the elderly, families with kids too young to drive, and the visually, physically, and mentally impaired. The arrival of fully automated navigation systems for ground-based vehicles will set the stage for fully automated navigation systems for flying vehicles.
Here are a few other transportation landmarks that will help pave the way for the more significant innovations.
- By 2010 personal transportation devices will be all the rage and electric shoes with built-in roller-skates will be gaining much of the attention. After nine years of heavy media coverage, the Segway Human Transporter will begin to gain serious market share.
- By 2015 traditional gas-powered autos will start to decline with electric automobiles and hybrids taking up most of the slack.
- By 2020 we will see an industry being built up around self-illuminating highways – highways that glow in the dark. “Glow Roads” will dramatically change the night-time aesthetics of major cities and will be shown to improve driving safety at night and reduce the need for streetlights.
- By 2025 a first attempt at launching the space elevator will fail, setting the industry back a decade.
Around 2030 we will see commercialization of the first friction-free no-moving-parts flying vehicles which will be considered by many to be the ultimate freedom machine. Much like the transition from analog to digital in the world of information technology, the study of traditional mechanics and traditional aerodynamics will be replaced with a new physics governing vehicular movement.
Even today, flying cars are very much on the radar screen to become a next generation automotive technology. They will begin with a more convenient version of today’s airplanes and eventually converting over to the frictionless cars.
The Flying Car Era
The flying car era will really begin around 2015 with flying drones. Flying drones will be used by FedEx and UPS to deliver packages, Pizza Hut to deliver pizzas, and Kroger and Safeway to deliver groceries. But beyond that, drones will enable homes to be taken off the grid with delivery of water and electricity (changing out batteries for the home), trash and sewage pickup, and much more. These too will begin as air-powered vehicles and later convert to frictionless drones.
Six key technological breakthroughs will be needed for the first generation of flying cars to become viable – the fully automated navigation systems, directional layering of airspace, low-impact vertical take-off, convenient fly-drive capability, silent engines, and specialized safety systems.
- Fully automated navigation systems – The average person has a difficult time navigating on a two dimensional surface. The flying car industry will not be able to “get off the ground” without an onboard navigator that “handles the driving”. Yes, people will want the freedom of being able to do some creative maneuvering in certain situations, but that will only be allowed in rare instances.
- Directional layering of airspace – With several hundred thousand vehicles flying over a city, there will need to be an organized system for managing the traffic, and having all vehicles at a particular altitude traveling the same direction would eliminate many problems. For example, all vehicles traveling at 1,000 ft altitude would be traveling due north, at 1,010 ft altitude 1 degree east of due north, 1,020 ft altitude 2 degrees east of due north, etc. Vehicles would spiral up or down to make their turns. While not a perfect solution because the North Pole becomes a crash point for those flying due north, it does represent a good starting point for engineering a solution.
- Low-impact vertical take-off – For use by the average person, flying cars cannot have a runway requirement. They need to take off and land vertically without blowing the leaves off of trees or shutters off your house.
- Convenient fly-drive capability – As humanity makes the transition from ground-based autos to flying cars there will be a need for both driving on the ground and flying in the air.
- Silent engines – Very few cities will want to put up with the noise of several hundred thousand flying vehicles if they all sound like airplanes today.
- Specialized safety systems – To date both aircraft and airspace have been closely controlled by organizations like the FAA and the NTSB to insure the safety of the flying public. Because of the sheer volume of vehicles and the lower caliber of individuals allowed to fly, additional safety measures will have to be in place. Safety technologies will include collision avoidance systems and drop-out-of-the-sky emergency airbags on the outside of vehicles.
Wireless power demonstration
The friction-free no-moving-parts vehicles will run on what we call “binary power”. Binary power is the concept where two otherwise harmless beams of energy will intersect at some point in space creating a source of power.
To better explain binary power, think in terms of two invisible beams intersecting in a room and the point at which they intersect is a glowing point of light. Yes, binary power will eventually replace all light bulbs. And lest you think it can only be used for intense forms of power, it will also be used to create “points” of sound, eliminating the need for speakers and headphones.
2050 and the Transportation Industry
With power being beamed in, the cost, weight, and manufacturing complexity of these vehicles will be greatly reduced. For this reason the industry will go through a very rapid conversion leaving the mechanical masterpieces we know as cars today destined for the scrap heap.
- By 2050, because of friction-free technologies and advances in material science, the average passenger vehicle will weigh less than 200 lbs.
- By 2050, because of automation, far fewer pieces, and greatly reduced complexity the average manufacturing time for a vehicle will be less than one hour.
- By 2050, the cost of the average vehicle will be under $5,000 in today’s dollars.
- By 2050, because of the use of automated navigation systems, traffic courts will be a distant memory.
Once the flying car industry takes off there will be a gradual decaying of the existing highway system. Eventually highways will go away, starting around 2070.
2050 and the Emerging Space Industry
Frictionless engines will form the basis of new propulsion systems for space travel.
- By 2050 we will have fully functioning space elevators operating at full capacity, moving both people and supplies into space.
- By 2050 over one million people will have visited the moon.
- By 2050 several dozen space hotels will have made a major impact on tourism with growing numbers of people opting for the “sleeping with the stars” vacation package.
- By 2050 several space stations will have been started as small working cities to build the next generation of space-based industries.
2050 and the Power Industry
The power that drives vehicles will transition from oil to electric and later to binary power. Electric vehicles will start to make major market inroads around 2015 because of improved battery technologies and because of the fact that the electric infrastructure is already in place for rapid “refueling”. Hydrogen will make some inroads but will not become anything more than a niche industry.
- By 2050 oil and gas will remain plentiful as demand drops precipitously with the emergence of alternative sources. Oil & gas will remain as an energy source, but will only be used in niche industries.
- By 2050 the automotive industry will make a near-complete transition to binary power as a principle source of vehicular power.
- By 2050 space-based power stations will be operational, supplying a significant percentage of the world’s power needs.
- By 2050 nearly all light bulbs will have disappeared, replaced with binary power creating points of light in space.
2050 and the Shifting of Politics and Culture
While individuals will be striving to gain control, our countries and governments will begin to see their control slipping away. The Internet has created borderless economies that have confused the issue of power and control and even the sovereignty of nations. With the Internet’s ability to conduct business and perform flawless transactions across borders, countries have essentially lost control of commerce. Flying cars will take this one step further and countries will begin to lose control of their citizens as national borders become meaningless.
While it is possible to visualize “electronic borders” formed around the perimeter of a country, cloaking devices and other types of system hacks will quickly render that kind of system useless.
- By 2050 the Nation-State as we know it today, will be replaced by a new form of governance.
- By 2050 there will have been a “peeling apart” of the law-of-the-land and the law-of-the-people. People will always demand solutions for ownership issues related to property rights, but individuals will become highly mobile entities requiring a new form of global governance tied to an internationally recognized ethics standard.
- By 2050 we will see a number of virtual, non-land-based, countries come into existence, each attempting to gain international recognition and citizens from around the world.
The future of transportation will be derived by strong desires for personal freedom and people’s need to gain control over lifestyles that are moving faster and faster.
At the DaVinci Institute, our goal in writing “2050 and the Future of Transportation” was to help stimulate thinking and hopefully make it controversial enough to cause these topics to be debated. While we did manage to turn our crystal ball on high beam for this exercise, there are many optional paths that we could potentially go down to cause a different outcome.
Please take some time to challenge our assumptions, and let us know what you think.
By Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute
Polish translation http://www.onlinecarparts.co.uk/science/?p=715
July 26, 1990 won’t be soon forgotten. On that day, President George H. W. Bush signed what White House staff publicized as as “the most sweeping civil rights statute since the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.” The legislation prohibited discrimination in employment, public services, accomidations, and transportation, while simultaneously improving communication services for disabled individuals.
Last week, H.R.620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017”,moved out of committee and will soon be voted on by the full house. On the surface, it’s five pages of double-spaced text that reinvents the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); updating it for a more modern world. But like many congressional bills, inner political machinery is rarely made apparent by the title. Allow me to explain how the passage of H.R.620 would drastically hamper disability rights.
A Brief History of Disability Rights Legislation
“Three weeks ago, we celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. Today, we’re here to rejoice in and celebrate another ‘Independence Day,’ one that is long overdue.” These are the words Bush chose to describe his signing of the ADA, and to believe reports from the time, it certainly was a victory worth celebrating.
The main question then becomes: what exactly were Americans with disabilities liberated from? Many of my friends in chronic illness communities were, like myself, affected by disabilities during their childhood, each to a greater or lesser degree. Because of these radically differing experiences, few of my peers truly understand and appreciate the work advocates who have come before. I still have much to learn.
In a 2015 essay entitled, “Why I Wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Robert L. Burgdorf Jr., the legislation’s primary author, deftly turns back time and allows us to peer into our past:
Large numbers of children with disabilities were systematically excluded from American public schools. In the early 1970s, according to widely quoted estimates, approximately 1 million school-aged individuals with disabilities were totally excluded from public educational programs, and another 3 million pupils with disabilities attended public schools but were not provided services to meet their basic educational needs. This meant that well over half of all kids with disabilities were not receiving minimally adequate education.
Prior to 1990, discrimination against disabled individuals was rampant thoughout public and private life, presenting a social disease that if left untouched would consume the best ideals of our country. Babies with disabilities were murdered by a society that denied them lifesaving medical care, the mentally disabled were placed into segregated schools, and individuals with undesirable physical or mental traits were subjected to forced sterilization. Those are horrors we never want repeated.
Mark my words, the Americans with Disabilities Act mattered when it was passed twenty-seven years ago, and it matters today, in 2017, when the party of Bush is attempting to take away the rights they were once proud to erect.
As frequent readers of my journal are already aware, I recently became a wheelchair user, after months on crutches took a heavy toll on my hands and wrists. As my condition marches on, it also makes walking long distances extremely difficult. Will I need a wheelchair indefinitely? Only time will tell, but after spending several months relatively homebound, I welcomed the freedom that a wheelchair provided. When paired with accessible public transit, I can travel almost anywhere in the Denver metro.
However, two offices that I’m medically required to frequent remain difficult to access even after months of conversation. My experience, I’m told, is far from unique. Perhaps, if I drove, the buildings would be accessible, as most facilities have ramps from the parking lot. Instead, if I take public transit, I’m consigned to enter via the rear entrance or roll up the motor vehicle driveway, both less-than-ideal situations, and the latter of which places me in significant unnecessary risk. I have injured my shoulder many times due to the steep incline which wasn’t intended for wheelchair use.
This is the story of many disabled individuals. Most, I expect, will calmly ask for access until they can no longer function without it. Speaking for myself, it’s good to know when the conversation becomes too much, federal law is on my side.
Last week, the ACLU blog ran with a stunning headline: “Congress Wants to Change the Americans With Disabilities Act and Undermine the Civil Rights of People With Disabilities.” I read the post thanks to a friend who shared it on Facebook, and it didn’t take long before critics appeared, with one sharing an article from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press (Minnesota). The Twin Cities is a seemingly evolved community, but several local businesses still had feisty comments when asked about being sued for access.
The article, which I should add is but one amongmany, employs terms like “drive-by,” “shake down,” and “legalized extortion,” to describe the actions taken against inaccessible businesses. This represents a fundamental (if popular) misunderstanding of how these lawsuits work, and only serves to sensationalize these business owners’ accounts in the press.
While I’ll be the first to admit that legal scams exist, it’s inaccurate to attribute most ADA-related litigation to enterprising, unscruplous lawyers. In fact, while I didn’t begin this post with the intent of explaining the rising number of ADA-related lawsuits, I believe that with some surety, I can.
It seems the tide of disability advocacy began to rise once again in 2005, when the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies, recommended stronger ADA enforcement. In its memo, “Righting the ADA”, the NCD directly asked Congress to “increase the inclusion, independence, and empowerment of all Americans with disabilities.”
Explaining the Rise in ADA Lawsuits
Following the trail of updates made to the ADA system since, it seems that the most relevant changes came in 2010 to the widely criticized Title III, which covers accessibility in public accomidations and commercial facilities. Restaurants, hotels, and the like are were all affected. Mainly, public commenters were frustrated by updates made to sections 4.1.3(8) and 4.1.6(1)(h), the specification for accessible public entrances. In Appendix B to Part 36 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, the Department of Justice decided to comment on its detractors:
Commenters representing small businesses recommended retaining the 1991 requirement for fifty percent (50%) of public entrances of covered entities to be accessible. These commenters also raised concerns about the impact upon existing facilities of the new sixty percent (60%) requirement.
The rule in question involved a slight increase in the number of wheelchair-accessible entrances, even though, as the Department wrote that requiring at least sixty percent of entrances to be accessible “is not expected to result in a substantial increase in the number of accessible entrances compared to the requirements of the 1991 Standards.”
By comparison, the 1991 publication employed opaque language that I expect was difficult to implement correctly. In the same sections, at least 50% of public entrances were required to be accessible, with an additional stipulation that the number of accessible entrances be equivalent to the number of exits required by building and fire codes. Thus, beginning in 1991, newly contructed facilities should have been accessible from both mandantory entrances, a point the Department acknowledged, too, writing in 2010 that they believe “commenters misunderstand” the previous regulation.
I believe this subtle change in regulatory policy explains the uptick in claims regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. While some publications (namely Insurance Journal) seem to have beat me on this otherwise timely analysis, all media outlets nevertheless read it as a negative. To the contrary, I believe this theory explains a trend that is overall positive, but I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t reveal how the ADA has already helped me.
Remember that I mentioned how important accessible public transit has become for me in recent months? Denver’s metro transit agency, RTD, recently settled a complaint wherein they will retrofit 172 lightrail trains to improve accessibility. These coming changes are the result of a 2014 lawsuit by the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating a progressive disability rights agenda. The lightrail operators, RTD says, will be receiving annual mandatory training to refresh their memory on ADA regulations. (Though when I reached out to the RTD on a recent trip after the driver shrugged off a bicycle occupying a wheelchair space, the universal response from all RTD staff seemed to be a similar shrug.)
How H.R.620 Alters the Legal Process
Early on in this post, I cited the White House who called the ADA a piece of civil rights legislation. This was not by accident. Access is a civil right, a point underscored in my personal life since moving to Denver, home of the legendary “Gang of 19,” who threw themselves in front of city buses and blocked intersections with chants of “We Will Ride!” This year, Denver’s Atlantis ADAPT did the impossible and stepped up their activism; holding Senator Cory Gardners office for almost 58 hours, asking that he withdraw support for the Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort and consider bipartisan healthcare proposals.
Activists like myself don’t intend to sit idly by while our rights are stripped, but we need allies. It’s important that you read and understand this argument. H.R.620 has the potential to decimate disability litigation as we know it, and put a stopper in the progress towards total accessibility nationwide.
In brief, H.R.620 has been introduced during the 2015-2016 legislative session by Representative Ted Poe [R-TX] in the house, before being read twice in the Senate under the number S.3446 when sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake [R-AZ]. Since the bill is a short five pages, we’ll read through it beginning in Section Two:
Based on existing funding, the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice shall, in consultation with property owners and representatives of the disability rights community, develop a program to educate State and local governments and property owners on effective and efficient strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability (as defined in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12102).
The main issue I take with this bill is that only existing sources of funding can be sourced for disability education programs. While I cannot be sure, I expect this directive will be used to justify siphoning off funds from other areas of civil rights enforcement.
Much like the recently convicted (and even more recently pardoned) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Poe is another national figure who seems immune to shame. A former Texas judge, this “King of Shame,” insisted that “people I see have too good a self-esteem,” so he imposed unique punishments to abase them. “It wasn’t the ‘theater of the absurd,’” he once quipped defensively in an interview. “It was the theater of the different.”
For his part, Flake has taken a similarly intellectual tack. “That conservatism has become compromised by powerful forces — nationalism, populism, xenophobia, even celebrity — explains part of how and why we lost our way,” Flake wrote in a recent book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” Much like another Senator from Arizona, both seem publicly vexed by our current political climate, but lack guts to do anything about it.
If we look even briefly at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights case summaries, it doesn’t take long before we uncover worthy causes, like United States v. Tennessee, a case which recently concluded and brought an end to intitutionalized care at Clover Bottom Developmental Center, the state’s oldest facility that housed individuals who were intellectually disabled.
Next, Section 3 of H.R.620 would create a “dispute resolution” process whereby the affected person(s) must notify the property owner in writing, requesting that accessibility accommidations be made. The property owner is required to provide a written description of improvements to be made within 60 days. As I understand the text, if the total time since the initial request extends past 120 days, then and only then may additional civil remedies be pursued.
Or, should I need to summarize that paragraph, access is not assumed to be a right.
This bill even goes so far as to prescribe content for the written notice, specifying that it must detail the circumstances under which you were denied access to a public area (including the property address), the specific ADA codes that were violated, information concerning previous requests for access, and whether the barrier to access is temporary or permanent.
Access is a Right
H.R.620 places unnecessary responsibility on the disabled individual who only seeks access. It upends 27 years of established legal precident. For my sake, and the sake of disabled individuals everywhere, please contact your congressperson and ask them to oppose it.