Transportation is going to be disrupted beyond recognition.
Every facet of transportation land, sea, air and space is going to be unrecognizable in under two decades. Transports disruption has started slowly over the last decade, but in the last five years, it’s impossible to ignore the changes that are spreading across every city in the world. The advent of ride sharing has disrupted traditional taxi services to the point of violent protest and demands for caps on the number of ride-sharing vehicles permitted in city centers.
Traditional vehicles are also changing in front of our eyes, with the rise of fully electric or hybrid vehicles has increased in both commercial viability and usage in the past decade. Traditional diesel-powered buses are going to be eliminated from the market due to their staggeringly bad fuel efficiency, which is disrupting the oil industry as, “For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market.”
Currently the Chinese are global leaders when it comes to using of electric busses, and it looks like the trend is hoping to catch on globally as zero emission transportation is going to be increasingly important as populations in urbanized areas continue to increase. China has an extraordinary 200 million electric two-wheelers, 3 million to 4 million low-speed electric vehicles, and more than 300,000 electric buses. Across the globe, several major city mayors agreed to purchase only zero-emissions vehicles for their bus lines until 2025. Those cities included Los Angeles, Mexico City, Paris, Vancouver, Seattle, and London.
Low fuel efficiency vehicles, like garbage trucks and HGV trucks, are changing their image as gas-guzzling behemoths. Large hydrogen batteries and hybridization simultaneously solve emission problems and revolutionize industries that have been dependent on clunky tech and inefficient transportation options. Toyota has more than 16,000 trucks that are using heavy duty hydrogen batteries in operation at the two ports in Southern California producing zero emissions. These trucks are excellent for industries involving lots of stop-start maneuvers and idol standby time.
Industries evolve and now so must the brands behind them.
Iconic motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson has even had to expand into electric motorcycles and even scooters. This is in part due to a new market emerging and the simultaneous decline in sales of traditional motorcycles over the last three years according to figures. TechCrunch even reported that “E-moto and scooter sales in the U.S. — currently 12.9 percent of the market — are expected to grow to 598K units worth $304 million by 2024, according to Global Market Insights. GMI projects global electric motorcycle and scooter sales to exceed $24 billion by 2024.”
We are currently in a unique time as there has never been such an active number of space flights, improvements to propulsion technology and a renewed enthusiasm for the field. SpaceX, and its polarising CEO, Elon Musk, could arguably be one of the reasons that space expansion has become so popular again or certainly more feasible. Musk is not alone in this endeavor, but his contribution is by far the largest.
Thus far, SpaceX has been able to disrupt the idea that any space exploration must come from a governmental agency. SpaceX has the ability to work as a private firm capable of launching inexpensively, launching more frequently and as a result has lowered the cost of getting a satellite into space by a colossal amount in an extremely short period of time, with some analysts suggesting SpaceX alone has reduced launch costs by 25% for the whole industry.
Space tourism is about to become a part of our world, and for the first time in human history, this is no longer just a possibility reserved for sci-fi movies.
Space “tourism” certainly is a niche market and is unlikely to be a massive stream of revenue for any of the companies involved. The technology behind the new age of space exploration is certainly the most indicative aspect of how fast and disruptive private companies exploring space can be. SpaceX newly tested reusable engine technology and the amazing test for emergency braking procedure performed by Blue Origin shows just how far the tech behind jet propulsion has come in the last year alone. It seems that the new age of space exploration getting off the ground is primarily due to the technology behind these new advances are coming cheaper and faster to the multitude of companies vying for a place in the market. An even more novel concept, ride sharing for companies launching satellites, is later this year going to have its first mission in an epic 71 satellites sharing one ride on the Falcon 9.
The trio of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos seem determined to make space tourism a tangible reality in the next decade. Virgin is certainly making sure they are going to be the first company to successfully take tourists to space, as this has been something that Richard Branson has been working towards for over a decade. They also have the vehicle for the task at hand. During the third flight of the VSS Unity vehicle, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 52km, just over halfway toward the Kármán line, this is the first time that Virgin Galactic has flown into the mesosphere.
The hyper loop that Elon Musk wants to construct under Chicago is also a model for the transportation system of the future as it would be exactly the sort of system that would provide many benefits from one simple solution – putting things underground. The removal of vast quantities of particulate from the air, the allowance for traffic-free commutes and more importantly the removal of collision risk.
Virgin is of course on the same mission as Tesla with their hyper loop endeavor involving a half a billion dollar super lab being constructed in a tiny Spanish village. Why there? Well as the Verge reported, “According to Virgin Hyperloop One, the region has over 9,000 companies in transport and logistics, as well as the second largest aerospace cluster in Spain, and 20,000 employees in R&D. The company says it will be looking to hire 200–300 high-tech workers to staff the new facility.” Virgin also has partnered with Dubai’s DP World hoping to launch an ultra-fast system for shipping goods that would remove the dependence on many systems instead DP World Cargospeed aims to “Transport shipments of goods at speeds of up to 620 mph and link to existing roads, rail, and air infrastructure.”
The future of transportation seems to be no longer focusing on making the vehicles autonomous but rather taking the technology we currently have and making it more efficient and sustainable for the times we live in.