5 inventions set to change the way we look at travel
With the new Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, travel is elevated and exciting. As the industry changes, and dozens of transportation inventions take shape, it's the card designed to stay ahead. Every day, and with technology improving all the time, there appear to be more and more innovative ways to travel. The future will be here faster than we think.
Here's a look at five travel innovations that are set to rock our world in the coming years:
1. Driverless vehicles: With many legal codes now under development to pave the way for driverless vehicles, the private sector has already invested significant sums of money into research and development (R&D) that will make these cars a reality in the near future.
At the forefront of this R&D is Uber, the on-demand ride-hailing service. Recently, Bloomberg reported, "Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved."
Ford recently announced plans to produce driverless cars in the hopes of partnering with ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Additionally, other firms like Google and Tesla are actively testing their autonomous vehicle technologies.
Although Uber will be the first to market to allow passengers to utilize self-driving vehicles, remember that AskJeeves and Lycos entered the search engine market before Google. The race is on and, at this stage, it's any firm's game.
2. Space travel: Richard Branson is a dreamer—but a dreamer with a track record of making big things happen. In 2004, Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, created his Virgin Galactic brand and promised to deliver flights for "space tourists" to explore parts of the galaxy only astronauts from the space agencies of America, Russia, and China have thus far seen. Yet democratizing entry into outer space still comes with a hefty price tag: a $250,000 fee is required to enter Branson's astronaut school.
Despite Branson's enthusiasm, his technology stumbled publicly when the VSS Enterprise test spaceship crashed in California's Mohave Desert in 2014, killing one of its two pilots. Though it remains unclear when Galactic's first private space flights are set to launch, Branson announced that further test flights will resume soon. The dream of private space travel remains alive.
3. Hyperloop: Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO, wants to revolutionize travel, but not just with luxurious, environment-protecting, electric cars. One of his other companies, SpaceX, is trying to create a high speed transportation mechanism that will push both passengers and freight through tubes that will be propelled by air compressors and linear induction motors. Musk calls this technology the "Hyperloop."
To put the Hyperloop into perspective, imagine it as a train that is propelled forward by a rocket. The Hyperloop will be able to cross the earth at an average speed of 600 miles per hour, and a top speed of 760 miles per hour. This means that a Hyperloop trip between New York and Boston could take about 20 minutes and a trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles could take about 40 minutes. This year SpaceX created a scaled Hyperloop model in Nevada and is now testing this technology.
4. Transit Elevated Bus: If there was ever a better way for buses and private vehicles to share the road, the Transit Elevated Bus may be it. At the 19th Annual China Beijing International High-Tech Expo in May, Song Youzhou, chairman of the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. announced that the Transit Elevated Bus will be deployed as a protoype in the Chinese city of Quinhuangdao this year. Four additional Chinese cities, Zhoukou, Shenyang, Tianjin, and Shenyanh, have also signed up to construct test tracks starting in 2016.
The superbus is designed to combat traffic by literally soaring over cars. The smartly designed bus, first proposed in 1969 by American architects Craig Hodgetts and Lester Walker, is similar to a train because it drives on tracks. However, the bus is built on stilts that enable it to hover above cars, providing a win-win situation for both public and private travelers. This bus may be the solution to many urban transit problems.
5. Hoverbike: If you're the kind of person who likes to commute by bicycle or motorbike, but you frequently get snarled by cars, bad weather, or other roadblocks, the Hoverbike could be for you. Part hovercraft and part motorcycle, Colin Furze, an inventor and YouTube content creator, created the Hoverbike. While video proves that Hoverbike can work, it likely needs significant refinements before it's ready for popular, non-stuntman, consumption. Until then, we'll stick to our 18-speeds.
For those whose passion is seeing the world, these travel and transportation breakthroughs present exciting ways to do just that. Similarly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card sets a new standard for credit card benefits, including 3X points on travel and dining purchases, flexible redemption options, and travel credits. Explore the premium travel rewards of Chase Sapphire Reserve at chase.com/SapphireReserve.
Stephen Robert Morse contributes regularly to the Financial Times and Fast Company. He is completing his MBA at the University of Oxford.