Imagine a world without modern transportation. No subways, no trains, and no cars. The only way to get somewhere would be to walk or ride a horse. Civilization would be set back because people could not go to school or work very far from their house. Trade between continents would practically cease. There would be no air travel. Sea travel would be severely set back; traveling between continents would take a very long time. We have made a lot of progress in the past 50 years, and the future 50 years will bring continued revolution to the way we think about traveling.
In the future, land travel will be maglev and green vehicles. The emissions of today’s cars contribute to global warming, acid rain, and smog. Gas powered travel will become a thing of the past. We will be using that precious, finite resource to produce energy. Future air travel will be mainly solar powered. Public transportation will be on maglev vehicles. Personal vehicles will be green, powered by water or solar power.
Although there are maglevs now, they are few and far between. Maglev vehicles work by using electromagnets. Using the principle of “like forces repel and opposite forces attract,” an electromagnetic field is created, repelling the train off the ground. Because the train is not in contact with the ground, there is no friction between it and the ground, enabling it to go very fast. Generators in the track produce powerful magnetic waves, which causes the train to move forward. To stop, the generators simply stop producing magnetic waves. Although maglevs can use more power (electricity) than a subway or light rail, they do not use fossil fuels, such as gas or coal, and provide a quick, smooth ride. No bumps are felt because the vehicles are floating on a cushion of air. This technology will be everywhere, and people will be able hop on to a maglev train for an easy, quick ride.
Personal vehicles will be very green and efficient, yet sleek and stylish. There will be two main types, hydro-electric powered and solar powered, and a minority, electric powered. The hydro-electric cars will work using electrolysis, the process of splitting a compound by pushing an electric current through it, separating the elements. When the water is separated into its two components, hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O), and oxidized into fuel, it results in an energy release 2 ½ times more powerful than gas. And instead of nasty emissions, the byproduct is water vapor, which is completely environment-friendly!
Solar-powered cars, as I said, will be efficient, yet sleek. The solar panels will be the material of the roof, not simply attached to the roof. Very thin and light, they will barely add any weight at all to the car. Incredibly efficient, the car will be able to run 100% on the sun’s rays. And even when not in use, the solar paneled roof will be storing up energy. At night, the car will have stored up enough energy from the day to continue running even after dark. Along with being sleek, efficient, and thin, the solar panels are made of very durable material, so you can leave your car out in the weather if you need to, or just to charge up. Either way, your roof will be fine in all kinds of weather. Whether you choose solar or hydro-powered, the earth will thank you. Because you are not using fossil fuels for your car, you no longer emit those awful chemicals. You no longer are contributing to global warming, acid rain, and smog. Research shows that ozone and particle pollution can be deadly, and most certainly harmful. The world will be a much greener place, thanks to new technology.
Solar powered airplanes will be the normal in 50 years. They will be covered in sleek, unbelievably efficient solar panels that will store enough energy to last through the night. Commercial and private airplanes alike will be solar powered. When the sun goes down, the plane will have enough energy stored up to continue flying overnight, if needed, although most commercial airline flights are in-country and only take a few hours.
In the past 50 years, in the area of transportation, we have made steady progress. Car models have changed over the years, and their emissions have been reduced by the Clean Air Act in the 1960’s. Over the past 50 years, hybrid vehicles have been continually improved and more available to the general public. Continued advances will make greener and more efficient transportation available to the general public and the future of our world brighter.
The winners of the 2017 EngineerGirl Essay Contest have been announced! NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. said, "Students’ devotion to protecting endangered animals is always inspiring to me, and their doing so through engineering, which is about solving problems of people and society, is doubly so. Congratulations to the winners!" Check out the link below to read the wonderful essays.