Future is Now: Revolutionary Technologies For the Near Future
The world is facing an unprecedented growth in innovation, where it seems like science fiction is becoming real life. These companies will reveal a small glimpse into the world we will be living 5 to 10 years from now. Predicting the technology of the future, called futurology, can be obsolete when time comes, but it is still beneficial to be informed of what is coming.
Aerospace — Boom Supersonic is a company designing a Mach 2.2 (2.2 times the speed of sound) 55-passenger supersonic transport with a range of 4,500 nautical mi, to be introduced in 2029. Supersonic planes like Concorde failed in the past due to extreme noise and short distance, only flying over the Atlantic, with the last flight in 2003.
However with revolutionary improvement in technology, Boom Supersonic will achieve what many have dreamed of, reaching Los Angeles to Seoul in 6 hours and 45 minutes or New York to London in 3 hours and 30 minutes with the added benefit of luxury and comfort. The aircraft will cruise at 60,000 ft, with 30 percent more efficiency than the Concorde. Boom participated in Y Combinator, a startup accelerator, in 2016 and as of 2020, Boom Supersonic is valuated at $1 billion and could start test flights by 2026.
Infrastructure — Hyperloop
Elon Musk created a company called The Boring Company that will dig tunnels to create a magnetic levitation and propulsion tubes that seal the pod, which can reach speeds up to 670 miles per hour. It is proposed to deliver both passengers and cargos, partnering with companies like Virgin Hyperloop and Hyperloop TT.
In November 2020, Virgin Hyperloop has successfully completed word’s first passenger test, conducted on a 500 meter vacuumed tube in Las Vegas. The target for Hyperloop is to travel between cities less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart.
Autonomous Vehicles — Autonomous Vehicles (AV) will be self-driven vehicles that will help prevent millions of death in motor vehicle accidents. AV will arrive shortly, patiently waiting for the states and municipalities to enact laws that lay out the morality of the vehicles. Currently, there are vehicles that are semi-autonomous, like Tesla, on the road. There are also other vehicle companies like Waymo by Google, that can implement full autonomy.
Once states do pass bills allowing vehicles to be self-driven, this will fundamentally change every industry. There will no longer be a need to possess cars in cities, creating demand for car sharing apps like Turo, or creating vehicles that are subscription based like Canoo. Other companies like Uber and Amazon will implement vehicles that can bring greater efficiency to their services.
The trucking industry will also be greatly impacted, as autonomous trucks can travel further distance at greater productivity. Many construction companies like Caterpillar are already implementing autonomous trucks. For example, SafeAI, a company that retrofits heavy equipment for autonomous vehicles, partnered with Obayashi, one of Japan’s largest construction company, to create a solution for autonomy in worksites.
Space — With the establishment of the Space Force by President Trump in 2019 and with ever-growing interest in space exploration from the public, space will be the next domain for the future. Currently, there are many aerospace companies looking to venture into space, all with different purposes.
For example, Virgin Galactic is currently aiming to bring space tourism by using commercial spacecrafts. In 2018, Virgin’s VSS Unity soared 51.4 miles above Earth and Virgin is aiming for customers to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth, with the ticket price of $250,000.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, manufactures spacecrafts that can be reusable, with the goal of lowering space transportation cost. The ultimate goal for SpaceX is to reach Mars and create a colony. SpaceX generates revenue by delivering commercial and military satellites, including Starlink.
SpaceX has successfully launched two NASA astronauts into orbit in 2020, making it the first private entity to accomplish the mission. Currently, SpaceX is scheduled to reach Mars by 2024 using ‘Starship.’ The 120m Starship will be fully reusable, with capabilities exceeding its own Falcon 9 by folds. SpaceX is expected to use Starship to reach Mars.
Founded in 2000, Blue Origin was created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with the aim of building orbital infrastructure. Blue Origin created the Blue Moon, a robotic space cargo carrier for making cargo deliveries to the Moon, with timeline of 2024. The vehicle can also be used for NASA missions. Bezos’s ultimate goal is to colonize Mars due to rising energy consumption on Earth and ‘limitless’ resources outside of Earth.
3-D Printing/Additive Manufacturing — 3D printing is already hailed as one of the greatest inventions for the 21st century. The possibilities are endless with 3-D printing, as almost anything could be printed. For example, Divergent Technologies created a road legal 3-D automobile called Blade, and although it is a prototype, has been created entirely by 3-D printing.
Other automotive manufacturers are implementing these technologies as well. Bugatti automobiles created the Bugatti Divo, a 1500 horsepower, $5.4 million dollar car that contains 3-D printed titanium brakes. The intricate details, with the thickness from 1 mm to 4 mm, can only be created through 3-D printing, ultimately saving weight by 40 percent compared to previous calipers while also enduring 1,850 F degree temperatures.
3-D printing offers greater efficiency and cost savings to all industries, including residential construction. Companies like ICON built the world’s first 3-D printed 50-home housing community in Southern Mexico, with the walls being printed in 24 hours and reduction in labor, which meant low cost for consumers.
The downside is that only the walls of a 3D-printed house can be 3D-printed as this time, with not a lot of variance in materials. Currently, a 400-square ft home can be printed in 24 hours, with greater flexibility in design. The technology already allows half the cost at half the time, and will ultimately be implemented for newer homes.
Bioprinting is another success of 3-D printing. Currently, skins, tissues, and organs like liver, kidney, and heart, can be created for transplantation. For example, a team of Israeli researchers developed a bioprinted heart created from the patient’s own fat tissue, with the printing process of 3–4 hours. Companies like BioLife 4D are able to create the perfect genetic match for the patient, reducing the wait time for transplant.
5G — 5th Generation mobile network is a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices (Internet of Things). 5G will impact every industry, making safer transportation, remote healthcare, precision agriculture, digitized logistics, and more.
For example, In order for full autonomous vehicles to operate, 5G must exist first, as vehicles need to communicate with each other through 5G (Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication). Autonomy may only occur when democratization of 5G networks occur first.
Starlink — In partnership with SpaceX, Starlink aims to deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. As many rural locations do not have the infrastructure, many companies create monopolies and Starlink can bring competition, lowering the cost for consumers. Starlink is projected to launch over 30,000 satellites, with the permission from the International Telecommunication Union, on top of the 12,000 already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The satellites will operate in low Earth orbit at altitudes ranging from 328 kilometers to 580 kilometers. The complete orbital array will provide fast, uninterrupted internet to the entire planet. However, the negative side of increasing satellites is the reflection of light, greatly impacting astronomy. NASA predicts that the constellation will be ever harder to see clearly, with ever growing concern of light pollution. Even with low reflectivity materials for the satellites, the night sky may not look the same.
Technologies will continue to innovate at the rate which many cannot fathom. What we predict now can be completely different in 10 years. These technologies will revolutionize the way we live forever, impacting not only us, but also our future generations. As Eleanor Roosevelt has said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. “