Technology is rapidly changing the way we commute, travel and transport our goods and COVID-19 has sped up some innovation. Discover the big changes coming to our cities roadways and skies.

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The Future of Urban Travel

Karlyn McKell

February 9, 2021

Big changes are coming to our cities roads and skies. Technology is rapidly changing the way we commute, travel and transport our goods and COVID-19 has sped up some innovation. 

Safety, speed, waste, and efficiency are a few issues transportation innovations aim to solve. Someday soon, a delivery drone may complete the last mile of delivery rather than a driver and getting to a nearby city may be as easy as hopping on an air taxi. Expect alternative fuel to become mainstream and gas to phase out as well. 

Read on to learn more about some of the up-and-coming transportation trends that will transform our cities. 

Air taxis 
One way to make streets less congested and travel faster is to take it to the skies. Commercial planes have dominated air traffic control for years but air taxis hope to gain control over some of the space soon. More than 20 companies are in a race to get cost-effective aerial rides to bustling urban centers. 

The hope is that you’ll be able to reserve an inner-city air taxi as quickly as a rideshare, allowing you to travel hundreds of miles in minutes rather than hours. Some urban mobility investors believe air taxis could be coming in the next 5 years. 

Underground tunnels
Elon Musk and The Boring Company want to turn our roads 3D to help solve traffic congestion in major cities. These underground tunnels would be weather-proof and would run on a trolley system to lower cars underground and then ship them at high speeds to nearby destinations. 

The tunnels would function like tolls, collecting a small fee from users during each use. Due to the costly infrastructure needed to make this a reality, it’s unclear whether city budgets will ever be able to fund a project of this scope.  

Electric everything 
From cars to buses, everything is getting an electric makeover as companies ditch mainstream fuel for eco-friendly upgrades. The CEO of GM just announced a plan to phase out diesel and gas-powered vehicles by 2035, proving that the alternative fuel trend is here for the long haul.

There is still some debate over how much more eco-friendly electric cars are than gas-powered — for example, if the batteries aren’t charged with solar or wind the CO2 emissions may actually be higher. Electric vehicles are also notably quieter, which can pose safety risks. Take, for example, motorcyclists — on an electric bike, it’s hard to hear them coming, increasing the risk of a crash. 

Smart highways
It’s not just our vehicles that are getting a makeover: our roads are too! Look out for roads outfitted with IoT sensors. These smart roads will cost about twice as much as conventional roads, but hope to use weather and crash data nearby to keep drivers safe and informed in real-time. 

New transportation technology is on the horizon, and our cities may never look the same. With the excitement of innovative transport comes skepticism and pushback, so expect to see regulations and debates over more controversial methods (such as air taxis) in the years to come. 

Aviation Today | The Boring Company