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Vehicles in the  Future

Flickr | Taco EkkelAs we know, some of the greatest contributors to air pollution are motor vehicles. They are one of the most prolific, life changing inventions that are deeply ingrained into modern living.

Karl Benz is credited as the main inventor of the motor vehicles, creating the first petrol powered one, with an engine that actually propelled it using the gasoline.  He did this circa 1885, from there he eventually joined forces with the Daimler company with which he created the Mercedes Benz. Cars were made widely available to public by 1908 and by 1970, there were 250,000,000 on the roads! In 2010 it was found that there were over 1 billion on the roads worldwide, yes that’s right, more than 1,000,000,000!

Hot Wheels: Cars and Climate Change

Today, for all the convenience and leisure they offer, motor vehicles as a whole have ended up causing more trouble. Being ubiquitous around the whole world, it has become hard to conceive a life without such transportation. Today, we realise that our on-road technology is a leading cause of air pollution and therefore a massive contributor to climate change.

Flickr | CthomasuscgWe’ve known for a long time that we need technological reform in the transportation arena. Recently, there have been drastic changes to the transport industry. Electric vehicles are a big contender in replacing our current fossil fuelled cars, vans, motorcycles and lorries. They use energy that is stored in rechargeable batteries. There are no harmful pollutants of particles emitted by the vehicles themselves and a great reduction of gas emissions have been seen after the introduction of more electric vehicles on the road. Ironically, even oil companies such as Shell are investing in renewable energy.

However…electric cars might not be the final answer to our pollution related strife. Although there are no tailpipe emissions, electric cars still have long-tailpipe emissions, meaning that in its production line, those same fossil fuels are used. Concerns have also been raised regarding the extraction of metals and minerals used in the electric technology. These seemingly revolutionary vehicles actually rely on rare elements that are sourced by drilling deep into the earth, leaving a lot of damage behind. Cobalt, graphite and Lithium Carbonate, which are also used in smartphones, have been used for decades and have resulted in many unregulated sources, often using child labour and techniques that cause irreparable destruction to the planet.

Personal Transport

As we look to the future, we know that we need super-efficient, fast, environmentally friendly vehicles linked to intelligent energy generating networks. So, what other options are there?

Flickr | Mike ProsserSince we have to work with what we’ve got for now, manufacturers are looking to create more compact electric vehicles that will use less energy to create and to use. Companies like Renault and Volkswagen have already presented tiny electric vehicles that are perfect for city life, they’re easy to park and manoeuvre, and it’s predicted they’ll be seen in droves on the roads soon.

Flickr | Tony HallSlowly moving away from electric dependency as we already know the downfalls, Australia’s EVX Ventures has already created a hybrid. Their Immortus car is a solar-electric concept. It can basically, in theory, create and run off its own power…forever! Using the silicon photovoltaic cells on the roof, the car transforms solar energy into electric energy to power it. It can do 350 miles at 50kmph on a sunny day and about 250 on an average day. Although, we’re not sure how well this will work here in the UK with the amazing lack of sun. Still, the design is pretty cool!

Flickr | Automobile Italia

Public Transport

We noticed that news on vehicles of the future usually focus on snazzy cars for us to own, but what about something that has been so integral to working life? Public transport is used by millions of people per week. In London alone, 4.7 billion journeys were made by bus and tube in one year. What are we doing to make public transport sustainable?  Well, you know we could not have written this without mentioning Elon Musk, we know he’s been a pioneer in sustainable, green transport with the release of stunning Tesla series. In addition to all of this, he also has plans for public transport. The Hyperloop is a train that offers speed and emission free travelling. You can make journey from London to Edinburgh or LA to San Francisco in under 30 minutes.

Flickr | Sam ChurchillThe system works by propelling passenger capsules through a tube or pipe like structure, using magnets and fans to power it. Musk has described it as "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table". So, needless to say, it’s going to be revolutionary and awesome.

Flickr | Headlines & Heroes
We have seen technological innovations beyond our wildest dreams, so we’re sure we can make efficient green transport a worldwide reality; it’s something that has to happen if we want to save our planet.

By Hanna-Johara Dokal - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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