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This article considers modern and future transportation modes and their developing technology.
- 1 Origins
- 2 History of mobility
- 3 How vehicles changed the world
- 4 Transportation Modes
- 5 Oil powered
- 6 Wind powered
- 7 Electric Cars
- 8 Air
- 9 Space
- 10 Projects
- 10.1 Traffic In Urban Areas
- 10.2 Sustainability
- 10.3 Autonomous Driving
- 10.4 Other
- 11 See also
Why did people need to be mobile?
History of mobility
How vehicles changed the world
The modern car was invented in 1866 by Karl Benz and became widely available in the beginning of the 20th century. It is rather used to transport people instead of goods.
In 2013 5.3 billion passengers were transported by bus in Germany, making it the most popular mode of public transport by passenger count. 37 billion passenger km were traversed, second only to rail (88 billion passenger km). Busses are mostly used for short distance trips like inner city commuting. On average, an inner city commuting bus emits .18 kg of CO2 per passenger km, and a long distance (>32 km) bus emits .05 kg of CO2 per passenger km. Busses were first invented when businessmen in the 1820s started to use horse drawn stagecoaches to transport the public on fixed routes, and gained in popularity after steam (and later petrol or diesel) powered engines enabled an increase in passenger count and a decrease in fare.
Railroads are the second most used way to transport freight and people in local traffic.
Yearly, 7.8 billion people are using the train in Europe. That is 1484 travellers per minute. The most important trains are:
- InterCityExpress (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Switzerland an Austria)
- Thalys (France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands)
- Enterprise (UK)
- EuroCity (conventional trains in nearly every Country)
- TGV (France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Germany)
- Oresundtrain (Denmark and Sweden)
On Average, travelling via train costs 13-25 cent per kilometer, with a speed of 100-120 km/h. An average long distance (>32 km) train emits 0.12 kg of CO2 per passenger km, while an average commuter rail or subway train emits .1 kg of CO2 per passenger km.
Ships are the most important component for global freight traffic. They are able to transport large amounts of goods at low cost. Transportation is slower than rail-, road- or airtransport. International shipping accounts for 4.5% of global C02 emissions 1.12bn tonnes annually.
While getting absolutely vital for global trading, they became more and more unimportant for passenger transport over the last century. Today, passenger transport via cruiseship is the appreciable way for long distances, according to the motto "The journey is the destination", as it is the slowest modern transportation method.
There are efforts to re-invent sail transport Tres Hombres is a Dutch registered sail cargo ship which has been trading since 2009
Electric cars run on electric energy only. They are propelled by one ore more electric motors which are powered by rechargeable battery packs. They provide several benefits over cars with an oil powered internal combustion engine:
- Energy efficient. While cars with internal combusion engines are relatively energy inefficient (only ~15-20% of the energy stored in fuel is used to move the vehicle), electric cars have an energy efficiency of around 80%.
- Performance benefits. Electric cars provied instant torque resulting in a strong and smooth acceleration.
- Less energy dependence. Electric energy is a domestic energy source. Countries do not depend on foreign oil imports.
- "Environmentally friendly". Electric cars are not completely environmentally friendly. They require a lot of energy and special materials to manufacture. They contribute however to cleaner air (mostly in cities) because they do not produce harmful pollution at the tailpipe. Although the source of the energy may pollute the environment (e.g. old coal fired power plants). This is sometimes called the long tailpipe of electric cars.
There are some challenges with electric cars, that are mostly battery related:
- Driving range. Electric cars often have less maximum range than fuel powered cars. This is further limited by recharging infrastructure. The average american drives less than 40 miles (64 km) a day, so this is only a problem for long distance traveling. For everyday use electric cars provide the benefit of recharging your car at home over night.
- Recharging. Recharging an electric car takes a lot more time than refueling a conventional car. Even a 'quick charge' to 80% battery capacity can take up to 30 minutes. This might improve with better battery and recharging technology. Battery swapping provides an alternative approach to this problem. With an automated system you can get a fully charged battery in about 90 seconds.
- Battery cost. The large battery packs are expensive and may have to be replaced after some time.
Transportation by plane is fast, but unecological and extremely expensive. For freight transport it is mainly used for light and valuable goods, which have to be delivered very quickly.
Traveling or transporting through space is one of the newer and less explored types of mobility/traveling. Due to the high costs on research, production of the spacecrafts or other things which are shoot into the orbit. However, private companies with bigger budgets than governmental organisations start to make business by traveling into the orbit.
Traffic In Urban Areas
Transportation is now a dominant source of emission of pollutants, some of whose impacts are :
- climate change : traditional petrol or diesel powered transport releases gases like lead, carbon monocide, methane, and many more into the atmosphere.
- decrease in air quality : pollution caused by transport affects air quality causing damage to human health. Pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are linked to increased risk of respiratory problems.
- decrease in water quality : fuel or other hazardous chemicals discarded from vehicles or port and airport operations, such as de-icing, can contaminate bodies of water.
More information about the environmental impacts of transportation can be found here.
Waste Of Resources
In order to accomodate for a rising number of cars on the road cities' traffic infrastructure had to change. Roads had to widen, impediments to traffic flow, like pedestrians, cyclists and street crossings had to be removed and structures like parking spaces had to be build in order to make automobile use more advantageous. These changes came at the expense of other modes of transport. In extreme cases they created a dependency on cars to access certain destinations of daily life, but at the very least they made automobile use more appealing than other modes of transport, which in turn creates the need for more of these pro-car changes to take place in cities in order to keep up with day to day traffic. This causes a spiraling effect, where more cars cause more extreme changes to citie's traffic infrastructure, and these changes in turn cause more cars to be on the road. This is seen mainly as an issue of environmental sustainability, since cars are a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
Work At Home
ec2go is an e-CarSharing concept, designed by the FB5 at the FH Aachen from 2010 to 2013.
Google Driverless Cars
Some people simply cannot wait until the day when autonomous cars become the norm. A few innovators, including Google, have already dipped their toes into the self-driving car market. But the convenience and safety of autonomous cars may be contradicted by the security risks such vehicles pose.
Law enforcement agencies have said that autonomous cars may encourage criminal behavior. Criminals may evade police by changing the programming in self-driving cars to bypass the rules of the road. Having their hands free in an autonomous vehicle may enable criminals to fire weapons or handle other dangerous equipment while the vehicle is in motion, and cars filled with explosives also may be programmed to hit targets.
Autonomous vehicles also may be vulnerable to hackers. Hackers may be able to take over an autonomous vehicle in much the same way they would take control of a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Right now it seems unlikely that the current crop of autonomous cars will be state-of-the-art crime vehicles, seeing as Google's version cannot drive faster than 25 miles per hour. But these concerns are things manufacturers will have to consider before they can offer autonomous vehicles for sale to the general public.
The Future Truck concept was presented by Mercedes-Benz at the "IAA Nutzfahrzeuge 2014". It is planned to be ready for mass production in 2025.
Hyperloop is a concept for highspeed underground passenger transportation. Capsules, powered by eletricity, are supposed to drive through a partially vacuumed tube with speeds of 1200 km/h.
The EV revolution a brilliant blog by Peter Sinclair on Climate Crocks.