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BBC Future

Ten weird and wonderful transport concepts of tomorrow

About the author

Stephen Dowling is BBC Future's associate editor.

Twitter: @sjdowling

He also blogs about analogue photography: Zorkiphoto

 

  • Hyper plans
    Elon Musk unveiled sketches for the Hyperloop, a high-speed transit system that could ferry passengers along a large pneumatic tube between cities. (Copyright: Tesla Motors)
  • Sky train
    The Clipair is a flying wing aircraft and special passenger-carrying capsules which could travel by rail to the airport and then be attached before flight. (Copyright: Clipair)
  • The boat that soared
    The Soviets ekranoplan design, a large aircraft flying a few metres above the sea quickly and efficiently , is being investigated again. (Copyright: Sergey Rodovnichenko/Flickr)
  • Lifting off
    Mothballed after 1930s accidents, airships may be returning to the skies, helped by safer fuels and techniques which do away with labour-intensive landings. (Copyright: Aeroscraft)
  • Follow the leader
    Satre is the name of a plan to radically change road transport, using semi-autonomous trains of vehicles under the command of a lead vehicle. (Copyright: Satre)
  • Rotor revolution
    The extra rotors on the Eurocopter X3 aid stability and increase speed. Future helicopter designs are expected to reduce cabin noise and increase speed. (Copyright: Eurocopter)
  • Train of thought
    One Chinese concept is a bus which travels around traffic on special tracks, carrying passengers above the vehicles. (Copyright: Shenzen Hashi)
  • Jet set concept
    The Swiss-designed private jet seats two people and is aimed at the moneyed elite who want something a little smaller than the normal corporate jet. (Copyright: AvaOne)
  • Man power
    New Zealand’s Martin Aircraft Company has created a working jetpack design, which could one day be used for search and rescue missions. (Copyright: Getty Images)
  • Driving the skies
    US aerospace start-up Terrafugia unveiled the TF-X, a road-worthy airplane with folding wings that allow it to fly and ply the highways. (Copyright: Terrafugia)
US entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled his vision for the Hyperloop, transporting people in a tube between cities at supersonic speed. Here we look at some of the other transport concepts pushing the boundaries of what's currently possible.

Elon Musk is a man who thinks big. He has already pioneered space exploration with the Space-X Dragon vehicle, the first space vehicle launched by a private company.

But his latest idea is closer to Earth – how to cut the journey time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Called Hyperloop, it will transport people between the two cities in aluminium pods contained within a giant tube – at speeds of hundreds of miles an hour. Musk thinks it could be a fifth mode of transport, after planes, trains, cars and boats, and could cut the journey time down to under 30 minutes.

Whether Musk’s vision will come to fruition is difficult to say. But his bold idea is one of many trying to profoundly change transport as we know it, from cars controlled remotely by a robot truck to road-worthy vehicles with folding wings that allow it to fly. Here, BBC Future looks at some of the more revolutionary concepts that may possibly get us from A to B years from now.

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