So let’s say you’re thinking about traveling again, perhaps even flying. Perhaps you’re wondering what happened to the efforts to make a new supersonic passenger aircraft since I posted about it in November 2019.
Hey! Since we here in the United States are not traveling so much on this traditional week of travel, how about we take that time and read this longform article by Jonathan English all about mass transit in the United States. It unearths some assumptions about what mass transit is and can be and how those assumptions developed over the past 100 years or so.
Besides the fond memories evoked by seeing the picture above (I was there for the grand opening of Washington’s Metro — you were able to ride free all day), I also found his premises interesting.
Fast forward (though not supersonically so) to 2019 and Boom has been busy. They’ve been rolling out the PR and getting reactions from the press. James Wynbrandt in a piece for AIN Online this past June adds some numbers to get a better idea of Boom’s business model and timeline.
More recently, Rohit Jaggi over at the Robb Report gives a summary of where Boom and other companies (including Lockheed Martin) are in working to get supersonic transport revived again.
I still remember researching electric cars being developed during the beginnings of the auto industry and being surprised when my dad mentioned that there were still electric vehicles on the road when he grew up in the 40s and 50s. Old models of delivery vehicles were still being used by thrifty businesses — and, in fact, the Walker Vehicle Company made such vehicles up until 1942 in Chicago.
The reason the vehicles were still on the roads was because electric motors cope with lots of starts and stops… such as delivery vehicles make. Delivery vehicles usually also don’t need to worry about extended range. They’re headed across town, not cross-country.
Being the practical engineer type, my dad was always befuddled by the fact that no one had decided to continue making electric vehicles for the urban environment.
It might not come as any surprise that many practical engineer types have had similar thoughts of late, only this time with buses versus delivery vehicles. In fact, they’re on track to be a significant percentage of all buses inside the next 10 years. Not only that, their use is already making a noticeable dent in oil use. My dad would especially like the passage in the latter article where the electric bus company was laughed at for making a toy not too many years ago. There’s no hubris quite like status quo hubris. (Especially since many people have mused about this happening, as you’ll see in a similar article from last year).
Of course, the only surefire way to have local governments adopt electric buses is to come up with a catchy song. You, know, something like…
As the engines of disruption continue in the form of automation, one trend I keep following is the coming changes to transportation. No, I don’t mean the fabled hyperloop (though I’m following that too). I’m thinking of electric vehicles.
I’d say their predictions would place the collapse or restructuring would happen closer to the 2025 – 2030 timeframe, but it I’m wondering how many more cars any of us will individually own in the future.
One of the trends I casually, yet actively, watch is how “self-driving” automation is coming along. I’m sure many of us have followed Google’s efforts as well as Tesla. So I was shocked to read Alex Davies’ piece in Wired about the self-driving technology of Cadillac… which I suppose may mainly point to my pre-conceived notions of Cadillac.
This article, also from Vox, goes into how three different “disruptors” to transportation will really shake up Detroit. As the title suggests, it’s more focusing on Silicon Valley/tech companies shaking up Detroit/car companies, but it follows on some of the same themes, especially where self-driving cars are likely to be first adopted and why.
One of the reasons I’ve become more interested in learning about basic income and future potential economic models has been what appears to be the growing automation of everything. In other words, we’ve moved beyond automating factory and manufacturing processes (though we still automate that and refine that automation), and into automating service and analytical processes.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the race to implement the self-driving car, because when the self-driving car becomes more omnipresent, it will absolutely shake up delivery and transportation paradigms we live with today.
I’ve read a number of different pieces about various companies’ attempts to implement the self-driving car and their varying successes. This longer piece by David Roberts in Vox goes into how the future of transportation will radically re-define “how we get around” in terms of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, vehicle electrification, and the integration between those two.
Somehow, this seemed fitting on the eve of one of the great commuter holidays.