Taken from our latest Extract magazine, this post examines the future of transport from a tech and innovation perspective. From public transport to manufacturing, we take a look at the future of an industry continuously striving for optimum efficiency.
Featured image credit: TfL
THE NEW BIG RED BUS
London’s new bus has launched, it is a serial hybrid range extender and the figures show promising economy. During tests the new vehicle had considerably more efficient fuel consumption and emitted less than half of the CO2 and under half of the NOx emitted by a current diesel bus. Only time will tell if this new bus can achieve the same iconic status as the old Routemaster. Nevertheless, if it is able to live as long, its efficiency will certainly justify its high purchase price, whether you love it or you hate it.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
Ten times faster than current airliners, the scramjet has the potential for significant reduction in journey times. In May 2012, NASA and partners made significant progress testing their Hypersonic International Flight Research Experiment. The test achieved a speed of Mach 8, nearly ten times faster than current airliners, resulting in great potential to reduce journey times significantly. Although a triumph in technology development, the Concorde has already taught us a valuable lesson – that cost, safety and lack of demand prevents mainstream adoption.
As for recurrent themes, if it is not flying cars it is airships. Besides the commercial applications, airships can lift large and awkward structures to many in-accessible places, which can help building infrastructure to exploit natural resources. Also airships can hang around discreetly for long periods of time aiding military observation. So, if you can’t go fast, then go slowly but very comfortably in an airship!
787 BOEING DREAMLINER
The long awaited Dreamliner is no bigger and no faster than 50 year old airliners. However it is certainly more efficient in construction and use. The 787 is 50% composite and has only 10,000 of the 1 million holes drilled in the aluminium fuselage of the 747 Jumbo. Plus, fuel costs are airlines’ second largest expense after labour and the Dreamliner is attracting orders by offering 20% more fuel efficiency than its competitors, associated with 20% fewer emissions.
EADS and GKN’s new Additive Layer Manufacture, developed for primary use in aerospace components is blurring the boundary between rapid prototyping and rapid manufacture. Unlike traditional milling, components can be designed closer to the pure engineering considerations. Early indications are that this could reduce manufacturing waste by 90% and produce parts with a lifetime of efficiency gains to pass onto the aircraft.
Image credit: PDD
Progress in safety, comfort and entertainment has made cars heavy. Conventional internal combustion powered cars benefit from being lightweight, which is even more of an asset for the new breed of hybrid and electric cars. Composites, the use of aluminium and lightweight materials contribute to these lighter versions of cars, but a further step in weight reduction could come from reducing the amount of material supporting ancillary features.
Extract is a quarterly supplement created by PDD that takes a look at different sectors and asks “what will they look like in the future?” If you would like to receive a copy of Extract: Transport edition or find out more about other editions please contact Susie – firstname.lastname@example.org
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