Business Life Lessons

The next revolution of transportation technology – high-tech bikes, flying cars and intelligent machines

I just watched Discovery Science on TV.  The episode featured the next revolution of transportation technology.

In Europe they have this high-tech bikes equipped with built-in GPS.  These bikes can never get lost.  Anyone can ride the bike, go somewhere then leave the bike at the station nearest to their destination.   The bike is free of charge for the first 30 minutes.  Longer than that and there’s this smart card they use to pay for the bike rental.  This lessens the dependency on cars.  It lessens traffic.  It solves the problem of parking.  It’s environment friendly.  It’s seamless.  It’s even good for the body.

In the future, they even envision these bikes to be able to generate energy out of the pedaling action of its users.  The energy generated by each bicycle will then be collected once they are parked in the station.  Each bike might give out only a fraction of energy.  But when thousands of bikers each contribute, the total energy becomes massive and could be a viable source of energy.  Perhaps, in the future when this technology becomes sustainable, and more of these energy creating ideas become mainstream, the world will no longer need to depend so much on oil.

There’s also a hydrogen-powered bike, which looks like a scooter more than a regular bicycle.  It can accommodate two people at a time, which is great.  It looks very easy to use, and no balancing required.  Even kids can use it.  It is also nature-friendly as it combines hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity and disposes off its very safe by-product which is water.  Its slick design, ease of use, and “green” technology is a powerful combination that solves peoples problems.

According to the show, the future will also allow everyone to fly their own cars.  That will definitely solve the problem of traffic.  The two-dimensional problem of roads can then be solved by the three-dimensional solution of flying.  In the future, they expect anyone, even those with totally no background in air flight technology, will be able to drive these flying cars.  Boeing is developing these virtual three-dimensional lanes similar to roads but hanging on the sky.  The intelligence built into the flying cars will be able to detect and prevent any collision as well as dangers brought about by the weather.  To solve the same problem, some scientists are also studying how swarm of insects and/or bats efficiently maneuver themselves without ever colliding with each other.  They simulated these insects using mini flying robots which look more like helicopters with built-in cameras and transmitters than insects.  The data coming from the camera feed are transmitted to the computers and the artificial intelligence kicks in so that each of these mini-helicopters could communicate with each other.  For example, in the advent of a pending collision, one of them could tell the other that it is trying to go to the right. The other then receives this message, processes it and decides to go to the left to prevent collision.

While watching these marvelous and futuristic inventions, I could not help but reflect how far will technology take us.  At what price will humanity need to pay for these great inventions?  Can the bike of the future make us more human?  Can the ability to fly make us reach out more to each other?  Can artificial intelligence bring more meaning to our empty souls?  Perhaps only time will tell.