Flights of fancy take off
Wild transport dreams aim for the sky, writes Paul Gover
FLYING cars, personal jet-packs, teleporters and even roller coasters across major cities — to make travel fun and fast — are among the suggestions to make motoring better in the 21st century.
More than 7000 people responded to a call from Engineers Australia for ideas they would like to see invented and made — with nearly 500 responses related to cars and transport.
Breaking traffic bottlenecks was a common goal for a range of entrants in the contest, including an amphibious car combining weekday commuting and weekend fishing trips, as well as a hoverboard device — like the one ridden by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future — for stress-free travel.
Among the other dreams are cars covered with grass to absorb pollution, transponders to help people find their cars in a carpark, automatic car covers, and a device to spray ‘‘calm down’’ gas into the face of road-raging drivers.
One of the Engineers Australia ideas is a car that can automatically drive a drunken owner home if they are over the legal limit.
One family motorist is also asking for an expandable transport package because, ‘‘ With kids and friends and relatives you never have enough seats to all go in the one car, so what I want is a people trailer attachment.’’
A large number of entrants in the contest want systems to take control of cars to prevent speeding and fatalities, with suggestions for external systems to slow and stop cars, sensors on the cars to read signs, or GPS systems to be linked into the speed limits.
Ironically, this is all technology that is already available and there are production cars — led by the BMW 7 Series — which can read speed signs.
GPS potential is not limited to cars, with visions of tracking systems to help find everything from pets to children.
Entrants with parking woes want automatic devices to find an empty space, a system of parking boxes stacked by cranes, and for car wheels to rotate sideways — like the Nissan Pivo concept car — to roll sideways in tight spaces.
Alternative energy sources are another popular subject, with many people asking for road surfaces to generate power, for cars and to feed back into the grid, using embedded photovoltaic cells, compressed air pads or solar cells under the road.
Others suggest harvesting energy from road friction, the movement of air over the car body, solar cell paint, engine heat and wind turbines attached to the roof and sides. Many want traffic flowing better, with suggestions for traffic lights to judge and change timing to minimise congestion.
Public transport is a strong focus, with entries ranging from systems of shared cars, discounts on power bills for public transport users, and free public transport for all.
The winner of the contest will be named soon. Engineers Australia plans to build the concept.
Steer clear: a hoverboard (left) like in Back to the
Future and personal jetpacks (below) were among more than 7000 ideas for geting around more easily.