Rubber hits the future road at 300km/h plus
Road travel of the future will be faster than a VFT, cheaper than a bus, far more environmentally friendly that a plane and way safer than a bike. And it could be here a lot sooner than we think.
Imagine driving your comfortable, super-efficient electric car onto a highway, switching to auto, swivelling your seat around to work, play or engage with your passengers while the car whips you up to 300km/h, monitors and responds to all hazards and alerts you when your destination is approaching.
All the while the car is powered and piloted by the road.
Each piece of the overarching concept is already possible with present day technology.
Lets take stock of what weve already got.
Hybrid taxi workhorses have proven reliable and cost effective over billions of hard driving kilometres across the globe. What was a point of curiosity and conversation only three or four years ago is now literally unremarkable.
Weve heard about the world-changing Tesla cars with their Model S fully electric punching through 100,000 sales in December last year. Some models feature insane mode launching from zero to 100km/h in a super-car-beating 3.2 seconds. Want more? Well what about ludicrous mode with the new Model S P90D ripping from 0 to 100km/h in just 2.8 seconds. (click the image below for the youtube footage)
Tesla also boasts a self-drive highway function that keeps you in your lane, maintains a safe distance from the car in front, and physically steers through corners and overtaking. It works by combining data from four sources: ultrasonic sensors to look for cars around you, a forward-facing radar, a forward-facing camera that takes in road signs like speed limit, and high-precision GPS mapping data. (The fatal crash of one of these vehicles made big news, while the other 3,500 daily road fatalities worldwide go mostly unremarked).
Genovation is a less well known player. Theyve just taken the record for the fastest street legal all-electric car clocked at over 300km/h.
Now take the taxi workhorse, add the heart thumping Genovation, with a bit of Tesla, including self-drive, and a good dash of autonomous car spiced by Google, Ford , Apple and others and were not too far from our car of the future today.
Then our road takes over.
It is paved with super slim solar panels that do trucks and traction in easy measure. The French government is retrofitting 1,000 kilometres of their blacktops with the stuff. According to Colars, the manufacturer of the panels, a one-kilometre segment of the surface will power a town of 5,000 people.
Add a touch of magic from the UK government and well be continuously charging while we drive. Highways England is trialling dynamic wireless power transfer which taps into Nikolai Teslas thinking that gave us the Tesla coil back in 1891. Cool.
While on the retrofit, roll out some phat fibre optics and battery storage stations with a good dose of future proof thinking.
New road construction will start with basic civil works that make way for a fast flow gantry with a huge 3d printer. The first printer squirt could be Lithification, a new technology that converts the top 30cms of soil into solid rock. Following nozzles will self-level or camber while pumping out asphalt, concrete, composites or even recycled materials including tyres and printer cartridges for the road surface.
Each squirt will be bespoke selected for the centimetre of ground it covers, drains and supports. Each will be intimately connected to the last and the next. Follow that with a photovoltaic layer and next gen fibre optics, imbedded updatable traffic signals and electromagnetic transfer options.
For difficulty geography, set the gantry to print off bridges or even print road headers or tunnel boring machines. If were in a hurry, and we almost always are, build the road in as many segments as we need, with 3d printers delivered and fed by drone and each segment seamlessly connecting to the next.
Or better still, a little further into the future, print off elevated roads in material that is stronger than steel and lighter than air. Engineering secures the road to the ground. Its a tiny footprint on the environment and likely, ultimately, to be very cost effective.
Once built, the road learns quicker that a three year old. It combines advanced AI and data from myriad sources. The entire system is managed and maintained through the cloud with advanced geospatial information and analytical systems. Equipment is remotely supplied and materials reloaded by drones and high speed automated repair vehicles that seamlessly integrate with all traffic and environmental factors.
Our car is here already its just not built yet. Our road is around the next corner.
Master Builders ACT