Salmon delivered by hyperloop and mail by drone?
Research scientists have been gazing into their crystal balls. These are the technological trends that will affect the transport systems of the future.
Developments in technology will leave their mark on Norwegian roads. More advanced IT systems make selfdriving cars possible, as well as drones that can deliver parcel post – with built-in intelligence. Hyperloop technology is not just fantasy: this means of transport, based on very low air pressure and induction technology, can become a reality. Test circuits are being planned at several locations.
At first, it is unlikely that the method will be used to transport passengers, but to ship goods such as freshly killed salmon, where speed is important. At least, that’s the view of a wide-ranging team of research scientists in many different technical fields at SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations established in 1950 by the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTNU).
The SINTEF report “Teknologitrender som pavirker transportsektoren” (Technological trends that affect the transport industry) has been written on behalf of the project group behind the Norwegian National Transport Plan. The time frame extends as far as 2060 and according to the research scientists we will experience radical changes.
These are some of the SINTEF scientists’ predictions for the next 30 years:
More and more vehicles will be fitted with computers which in turn will run advanced software. In addition, sensor technology will be brought into use in more vehicles. According to the researchers this will affect both traffic and our driving habits.
At present, cars contain from 60 to 100 sensors, but researchers believe that a new car in 2020 will be fitted with up to 200 sensors. Data from these sensors can be used both in monitoring the vehicle (for example safety equipment such as ABS brakes) and for maintenance purposes.
This can potentially make travel on Norwegian roads safer: The trend is that more and more data are distributed directly and in real time to the manufacturer of the vehicle and to the operator of the road network. This information can be used in IT-based safety services such as collision avoidance and monitoring the technical status of the road network.
The researchers also predict that more digital systems will mean that we will receive even more data: about everything from energy consumption to driving and movement patterns. As a result, SINTEF is highlighting the need for debate around the future ownership of this mass of data.
In years to come we will see even more electric vehicles – cars, buses and bicycles – particularly in urban areas. This will affect the electricity supply grid and will in some cases cause local electricity supply problems. Research scientists believe that this will result in an increase in local generation of clean energy, for example using solar cells which are integrated into buildings, or small local wind turbine installations. They also foresee that road vehicles will in future be used more efficiently than at present, because people will increasingly opt for car pooling, especially in towns.
When it comes to transport over longer distances we will also notice increasing electrification, both on water and in the air. There will be more electric ferries and researchers also expect electrification of the aviation industry to take place by 2040.
At present, most people associate the word “induction” with kitchen cookers, but electrical energy transfer by way of contactless induction technology will make its entry on our roads. Inductive charging systems will first appear in stationary charging of electric road vehicles and for charging electric buses at bus stops.
Inductive charging of buses at bus stops has already been demonstrated for more than 15 years in Italy, and similar systems are now being tested by Scania in Sweden. Systems providing stationary charging of electric cars are already on sale in the United States, and most major car manufacturers are now preparing for the integration of such technology into their electric vehicles. A concept for battery charging in electric ferries using high power inductive energy transfer has also been developed in Norway, and is currently being demonstrated in the hybrid ferry “MS Folgefonn” at Stord.
Technology for inductive energy transfer can also be integrated into roadways to charge batteries in moving vehicles. Here, the receiver unit in the vehicle does not have to be stationary for the battery to charge. Various forms of dynamic inductive charging for moving vehicles have already been demonstrated in buses and trains in South Korea, as well as in trams and goods vehicles in Germany.
One of the greatest advantages of inductive energy transmission technology is that there are no parts subject to mechanical wear. It also becomes simpler to automate battery charging when no physical contact is needed. For this reason, researchers believe that inductive battery charging will be used not only in self-driving and autonomous road vehicles, but in time also for charging drones, ships and various types of machinery, among other things. trains, but Norwegian
While batteries both store energy and provide power directly, the hydrogen system generates electrical power by oxidising hydrogen to produce electricity and water. The energy is stored as hydrogen in a tank, and fuel cells supply power.
High-speed boats and ferries powered by hydrogen are expected to be in use by the end of 2020. The same is expected for trains and goods vehicles for long-distance transport. Hydrogen will also eventually be powering some aircraft.
With the introduction of mass-produced hydrogenpowered cars by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, among others, in coming years, the regulatory framework and the basic infrastructure for the use of hydrogen in land-based transport will be in place by 2020 in many countries.
Hydrogen is a particularly appropriate fuel for larger vehicles and means of transport, or when needed for longrange transport. This means large passenger and goods vehicles, long-distance buses, lorries, trains and ships.
For maritime use, hydrogen in gaseous form will be less suitable as an energy carrier for the longest journeys and for larger vessels. For such applications, hydrogen will be stored in liquid form. However, for small ships and moderate distances, volume is not a problem, and compressed hydrogen gas can be used. The first tank vessel for transporting liquid hydrogen is already being built in Japan. When completed in 2020 it will transport large amounts of hydrogen from Australia and Brunei to that year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Goods transport, for example of consumer products, is at present booked complete, from start to finish. Things will be different in the future. There will be a more flexible form of distribution: Researchers envisage that “all” goods will be sent to a large goods terminal where they will be packed and then distributed. This allows us to have an overview of the entire stock and thus plan the best and most efficient way to ship goods from there.
The concept involves fitting the goods with intelligence – which in practice means that a product will carry electronic information about what it is, what transport requirements apply to it and where its destination is. Using this sort of concept, goods can monitor their own shipping and send