Frictionless-Vehicles-11Frictionless 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.

Frictionless Vehicles

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Binary Power

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.

In closing…

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

12 Responses to “2050 and the Future of Transportation”

Comments List

  1. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Amitabha Mukhopadhyay</a>

    Well it appears the line of thinking in this article on future transportation systems has striking similarities with my line of thinking given in a science fiction novel MEGALOPOLIS ONE 2080 A.D. only difference being the emergence of hydrogen as fuel of tomorrow.The vtol aircraft fully automatically piloted as well as automatically driven automobiles running on magnetic strips and sensors completes the picture. So for a glimpse into the world of future transportation system please visit
  2. Alan Klees

    I have about 1 million miles behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle. I do not see how heavy freight will be moved without highways. A big truck now can carry about 45,000 lbs of freight easily to any location. This is an incredible technology. Our road system, though in disrepair in some spots, is a technological wonder. If you have ever driven the West Virginia Turnpike for the first time, you will see what I mean. We have come along way from the time when this movement was a travail for our pioneer ancestors. What we have is not bad! For several years I have been working on alternative transportation systems. I have seen the weaknesses of our system. We do not have a "back-up" transportation system. This is a mistake. The gridlock of LA is an example. Gas Wars may be a bigger problem. What is most easily forgiven in human behavior I think is shortsightedness. You may recall the story of Henry Ford having to knock down a wall to extricate his car from the first garage. In some ways I think people are smarter now. There is bad judgment everywhere if you look close enough with information not available when judgment is made. HR 1260 Patent Reform is a bad idea. "First to file" will kill entrepreneurship in America. I am interested in working on transportation problems. I have experience inventing and problem-solving. I am self taught in higher math, everything beyond trade/tech school algebra. I am looking only for credit for my ideas--if they are viable. I have no expectation of even preserving this desire. I have given up on trying to patent an invention at the present time.
  3. Jain Antony

    Am just afraid of my career, bcoz am a transmission engineer.You are introducing Friction less technologies great to hear but, friction is a base to my field.... Any how I Love this article & also love to see the 2050, if nature allows me.....
    • admin

      I would love nothing more than to declare an end to "friction". But alas, friction is an old friend that will not leave willingly. Not to worry, your work will not be obsoleted anytime soon.
  4. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>FJB</a>

    Some more views on the vehicles of the future -
  5. Andrew

    Hey, this is really nice, but you have to remember about some of people's predictions that did'nt come true like 2001, a space Odyssey, and many others.
  6. Gaspare V Calandra

    This is what my ideas have been about since I was at school back in the early 70's. Cities today do not seem to have attempted to embrace new technologies by using a completely "unconventional" way of thinking for their town planning! I have some amazing ideas and would love to join a company who are at the forefront of a thinking machine to develope future cities. We do not have to wait for the year 2050, it could all start today. The future is now!..Gaspare V Calandra
  7. Girl

    This is a very ambitious thinking. Some of the predictions have come true seeing as it is now 2016. However, automated vehicles are still at a far point in time in the future from being used on a wide scale, and I doubt that flying cars will appear in less than 40 years. Definitely not space tourism by 2050. But who knows.. someone once said the personal computer market was about 5 people worldwide. It would be exciting if all these came true in my lifetime (I am now 20.) Thank you for sharing.
  8. James apgar

    I beleave we need to make a common current out of transportation.a system that allows a medeum for fluids to flow from the movements of society. Tie transportation to water and drive a clean water tide to filter out waste . Float the weight of transportation to create a common energy system that is drivin from the weight and movement of transportation.
  9. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Brian Uitdenbogerd</a>

    Please visit our web site and i look forward to your feed backs to see our vision can be part in the future. Flying is costly. The cost of the fuel is not cheap. Unless we do have a binary technology of some sorts that will give us unlimited energy like in the movies or Star Track. Until than we need to work with whst we have is ground effect vehicles that can use the exisiting infrasture but will use less fuel than the conventional cars and electric cars using GROUND EFFECT. The problem with ground effect we still dont know alot except it is dangerous and unpredictable. Why because ground effect is generated when an object is traveling at a forward speed near the surface, ground. What the ground does helps increase lift and help reduce drag. That is why all airplane coming in for a landings and take offs experience floating effect just before the landing gear touches the ground. What we have been doing at IAirplatform is study this dynamic ground effect and sucessfully came up with a proof of concept on how we can generate the ground effect in a static position. This will make the dangerous ground effect manageable, predictable and make it a precise electric ground vehicle of the future that will have the safe control of ground effect and navagation system that can be easily run by a smart phone that is pricise in how much energy is used and result this will help reduce the Co2 emissions which we really need to focus on to help reduce the global warming. Currently automobiles put out around 68% of Co2 in the USA and we can predict the other parts of the world will be similar situatuins as the productivity goes up in their own perspitive countries. I heard that the airplane Co2 emissions are worse becuase it is deposited in the sapce and it takes longer time for the Co2 to get obserbed. Thus, our answer to our global warming and to reduce the Co2 emissions maybe the ground effect. As the Right brothers first fight was in ground effect. Look forward to your feed backs and if you are interested in our magic box that breaks the gravity by controlling air, I Airplatform, let us know. We need your supports to make better i Airplatform, static ground effect vehicles.

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