Amazing future transports promise to supercharge our commutes

You can keep your Teslas, your McLarens, and your Aston Martins (we’ll take them if you’re dead set on getting rid of them, of course!). Here in 2018, the ambition, scale, and adrenalin-pumping excitement of the most cutting-edge transport options put even the most drool-worthy vehicles to shame.

Without further ado, here are some of the amazing modes of transportation we have to look forward to. Bored of waiting for public transport? Don’t worry: your commute to the office is about to get a whole lot cooler.

Self-driving cars

Aptiv self-driving car

It’s a testament to just how quickly things are moving in the world of transport that we had to stop and consider whether or not to even include self-driving cars on this list. Far from science fiction, these autonomous vehicles are now being developed by dozens of companies around the world, and have completed thousands of miles of test drives all over the planet.

The tech is still developing, but chances are the stats will show you’re actually safer in a car driven by a computer than one driven by a person. Our next big question: Will kids born today even bother getting their driver’s license at all?

Flying jet suit

iron man style jetsuit now on sale at sec 2

If there’s a person out there who’s never wished to jet around like a real-life superhero in their own jet-powered Iron Man-style suit… frankly, we don’t care to meet them. Thankfully, all of us in the other pro-jet suit camp are finally getting what we dreamed of, courtesy of British inventor Richard Browning’s amazing jet-propelled suit.

The amazing flying suit recently went on sale at high-end U.K. department store Selfridges. You don’t need a license to operate it, and learning reportedly takes just a few minutes, thanks to an intuitive design that creator Browning told Digital Trends, “taps into an innate human balancing ability in a really uncanny way.”

Unfortunately for most of us, it’s pretty darn expensive — with the initial versions selling for $446,000. We guess that one person who never fancied his own Iron Man suit may get the last laugh here, after all. At least, until the price comes down!

Flying cars

lilium vtol personal jet aviation

What self-respecting look at the travel options of the future could ignore the humble flying car? Promised to us since the days of The Jetsons, the failure of this technology to come to pass has long been a crushing disappointment. After all, who wouldn’t trade the cesspool of social media for their very own airborne automobile?

Fortunately, flying cars finally appear to be on the way here in 2018. Case in point: Californian startup Opener’s BlackFly vehicle, hailed as the “world’s first ultralight all-electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.” Then there’s German aviation startup Lilium Aviation’s own two-seater VTOL vehicle, the human-sized CityAirbus quadcopter, the Kitty Hawk Cora that’s backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, and more.

With interest in flying cars at an all time high, the dark days of  riding the boring, old-fashioned bus to work may finally be coming to an end!

Elon’s city-to-city rocket system

spacex bfr earth city travel elon musk

It’s 7 o’clock in the morning, you’re still in Portland, and you need to be in Sydney, Australia in two hours’ time for a crucial work meeting. Do you throw your hands in the air in horror, and start dashing off a new CV to other potential employers? Of course not: You simply hop on your local intercity rocket, capable of getting you to any other point on the planet in less than an hour.

The scheme was first laid out by Elon Musk, whose vision of “point-to-point” Earthbound travel includes SpaceX’s reusable BFRs (Big F’ing Rockets) and launchpads in all major cities. Proposed routes for the city-to-city rocket system could include New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes, and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes.

It’s not up and running just yet, however, so here in 2018 you’d still miss your Sydney, Australia meeting, unfortunately. We guess that’s what Skype is for!

Hyperloop

hyperloop pod reaches fastest speed yet in latest contest warr
WARR Hyperloop

Don’t like the idea of being briefly shot into space as part of your morning commute as with the above concept? Concerned about putting your life in the hands of a rocketry system before you’ve even had your first coffee of the day. No problem: The underground Hyperloop system promises to transport commuters in a kind of a futuristic subway system by firing them at speeds of up to 760 mph.

Having been first suggested by (who else?) Elon Musk, the idea has since been picked up by other researchers from around the world. At the most recent SpaceX pod contest, Germany’s WARR Hyperloop picked up the record for fastest self-propelled pod ride with a design capable of traveling at 290 mph.

We’re still years away from this system being implemented, but the technology is advancing astonishingly quickly. Pretty soon, journeys like Los Angeles to San Francisco could be reduced to a mere half hour, as opposed to six hours by regular car. Or you could just get a job that’s a bit closer to home. But where’s the fun in that?

Telepresence robots

telepresence robots study vgo student in class hires
A telepresence robot made by the company VGo. VGO

Let’s face it: Here in 2018, who’s really “there” and “present” at all? If we’re hanging out with buddies, we’re looking on Facebook to see what are other friends are doing. If we’re in a long meeting at work, we’re trawling LinkedIn for more exciting job opportunities. If we’re standing at the alter, waiting for our spouse-to-be to arrive, we’re furtively checking the Tinder app on our wearable in case there’s a last-minute better option.

With that kind of connectivity, it’s no surprise to hear about the rise of so-called “telepresence” devices. These robots combine Skype or FaceTime-style video call capabilities with actual movement, which is carried out by a robot. Whether it’s performing a site visit or allowing a sick kid to attend school, telepresence robots have a valuable role to perform.

Even though, given the option, we’d totally prefer a flying car!

Emerging Tech

NASA is building an inflatable space robot named King Louie

NASA is funding an inflatable robot called King Louie which could travel to the stars in deflated form and then be blown up when and where required. Here is why that's so exciting.
Cars

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best Top Gear episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, Top Gear has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 26 seasons.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Cars

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.