The future of travel is, quite literally, now. The ability to virtually visit anywhere in the world in near real-time, board a plane with the swipe of your palm, and leave your car running at the airport while a robot “valet” whisks it to an automated parking garage are coming very, very soon. In fact, the technology for these travel innovations already exists, and will soon redefine the way we travel.
See the World Like Never Before Through Augmented Reality Glasses
Remember Google Glass? The company would rather you didn’t. Fact is, the innovation was just too ahead of its time. Fast-forward a few short years, and it’s already difficult to imagine travel before essential mobile apps like Google Maps, TripIt, and Uber. Now, picture the convenience of being able to access those same apps from your field of vision at all times. Products like Vuzix’s M300 smart glasses (similar to Google Glass) provide that level of access and the ability to interact with those apps via speech and basic hand gestures. Consumer versions would allow travelers to access directions, hail a rideshare, make a dinner reservation, and research every fact about their current destination — all laid over their field of vision Terminator-style — without ever touching their smartphone.
Traditional Boarding Passes Will Give Way to Biometric Technology
Mobile boarding passes have already made ticketed air travel obsolete. The next step will be to remove the concept of a “pass” altogether. As of mid-2017, JetBlue and Delta are trialing biometric boarding and luggage processes at select U.S. airports. Facial, retina, or palm scans will ultimately replace all of the above. Air travelers will simply need to step to airport security, wait a few seconds for their face or eye to be scanned automatically, and continue to their gate — all without ever presenting their smartphone or a paper ticket.
Fully Automated Robot Valets Will Eliminate Airport Parking Hassles
Airport parking has always been a hassle that often involves parking in what feels like a different zip code from the terminal and praying that a shuttle shows up. Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport is working to eliminate that headache entirely with a robot “valet” that automates the process. Flyers leave their car at a designated cabin, and the system picks it up and parks it neatly in the garage. Removing humans from the equation means the system is capable of packing twice as many cars into the same space, effectively doubling garage capacity.
Pilotless Planes Will Redefine “Auto Pilot”
Driverless cars are slated to become commonplace on U.S. roads in the next few years. Not long after, it’s possible that pilotless commercial airplanes will take to the skies. Most passengers are surprised to learn that today’s modern airliners can already takeoff, fly, and land with little to no human intervention. UBS reports (via CNN) that we could see the first remote-controlled planes and helicopters by 2025, with fully automated aircraft to follow five years later. The problem right now is that less than 20% of air travelers polled would agree to fly in a pilotless plane. Would you?
Hyper-technology Will Provide Lightning Fast Ground Transportation
It’s unlikely commercial air travel will disappear anytime soon. Instead, lightning fast ground transportation will complement our travel infrastructure. Impossibly fast maglev trains like those used in Japan or the Elon Musk-backed Hyperloop could be the way forward. The electromagnetic tube technology for the latter promises to whisk passengers between New York City and Washington, D.C., for example, in just 20 minutes at up to 700 miles per hour.
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