Flying cars and zero carbon emission aeroplanes may seem like a pipe-dream right now. But if we look at the latest developments in tech travel, it appears these futuristic ways of living and travelling may become a reality sooner than you think.
Here are seven ways technology could put a green stamp on the way we live, work and travel.
1. Wuhan, the green 'super-city'
Home to some of the world’s highest emission-producing cities, many believe China will need to take dramatic measures to convince the world of its green credentials. Cue the latest developments in Wuhan, currently being transformed into an 'environmental super-city' with the high tech Phoenix Towers at the centre of its business district. Not only will these edifices create renewable, solar energy, they’ll also house advanced technology that uses cool air from nearby lakes to turn huge turbines. Suspended air gardens will house 'insect hotels' and allow indigenous species to thrive. When complete, the 1 km-high structures will be the tallest pair of skyscrapers in the world. And perhaps the greenest.
2. Dubai’s Flying Cars
Ever keen to break world records for innovation, Dubai has turned its focus to transport. At the latest World Government Summit, the Emirate unveiled the latest 'Autonomous Aerial Vehicle' (flying drone car to you and me). This self-driving 'sky car' is the brainchild of Ehang in China who kitted it out with 100 per cent green technology and a battery that’s chargeable within two hours. But Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority are fully embracing this 'greener, safer and smarter' technology and plan to launch it in the city as early as summer 2017 - could this be the end of car pollution, congestion and traffic?
3. Italy’s Flying Taxis
The days of hailing a taxi - in the conventional sense anyway – could be over, as all eyes were on a high tech drone taxi at the Geneva motor show recently. Creators Airbus and Italdesign have designed 'Pop.Up', a multi-modal vehicle. And inhabitat reported that after calling for this 'air cab' through a mobile phone app, it will pick up passengers on the ground and transport them to their destination, efficiently through the air.
This futuristic vehicle is a long way off becoming a reality, but if it takes off, it could 'relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities' and help reduce carbon emissions. One thing’s for sure, it’s a lot more fun than taking a cab.
4. Slovenia’s Green Capital
The technology in Slovenia’s capital city may not be quite as advanced as the likes of China and the UAE. But we must praise Ljubljana, the official European Green Capital for 2016, for its efforts to use small tech-driven steps to make huge changes to the city’s environmental impact. Thanks to a multipurpose Urbana smart city card, residents and tourists now have an incentive to ditch the car and use the city’s environmentally-friendly buses, city bikes and the park and ride system to get around. Those who find it difficult to get around on foot can also use their electronically-powered 'kavalir' tourist train.
5. America’s electric planes
With over 780 million tonnes of CO2 produced by worldwide flights each year, the pressure to offset the carbon emissions produced by air travel is more serious than ever. But a start-up company in the USA claims to have the answer. Wright Electric claims they can save our planet by building a 150-seater aircraft that’s capable of flying 300 miles solely on stored up electricity. So far, it’s claimed one UK budget airline is interested in the new technology. In their blog, the company says they aim for "every short flight to be electric within 20 years".
6. Sweden’s toilet to truck technology
It may sound bizarre, but human waste has more uses than you might think. And in a move to reduce its greenhouse gases, Stockholm is getting savvy with its sewage.
As part of the Grow Smarter project, The Scandinavian city is making bio-fuels from household waste available at petrol stations across the city, which motorists can use to fuel their vehicles. Soon, the city will also have a high tech system in place to convert waste energy into household heating. European cities are expected to follow suit and the city could be fossil fuel free by 2040.
7. China’s straddling bus
The challenge to help city dwellers get from A to B whilst still tackling climate change is tough. But thanks to the technology wizards behind China’s 'straddling bus', we may have an answer.
Unveiled at the 19th International High-Tech Expo in Beijing last year, the futuristic transport system would cross two lanes of traffic. Yet thanks to its smart design that takes the vehicle above the street level, it would also allow cars to pass underneath it.
The straddling bus could carry more than 1,000 passengers across a city and according to a report on CityLab, it could cut China’s fuel consumption by 800 tons a year. Perhaps this invention’s got legs? Or perhaps not.