Flights of fancy take off

Wild trans­port dreams aim for the sky, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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