Driverless cars and flying pizza: our electric future

Future transport Jul 18, 2020

10 years ago we at Hypervolt had our first go in an electric car: a G Wizz, one of just 5,000 sold globally. EVs were very different then: it could drive 50 miles on one charge, top speed: 50mph.

Driving that G Wizz you might have laughed if I told you that one in every 12 cars sold in the UK  in 2020 would be electric. EVs are now as fast as and cheaper than petrol or diesel, so we’ve come a long way since then, although not in the G Wizz...

That’s got us thinking about how far we’ll go in another 10 years. Our minds have been blown by the innovation out there - here we share a few of our favourites.

The G Wizz - two in the front, one sideways in the back. Credit: Liftruck

Driverless cars

Of course, autonomous driving is already here to an extent. Tesla and Nissan owners are cruising hands-free, and many of us have vehicles that park themselves or at least beep incessantly if they think you’re doing it wrong. But all these require the driver in the seat and paying attention.

Recent breakthroughs in “driverless” technology is quite another thing. The race between Tesla, Waymo, Cruise and Luminar could see unsupervised driving (so-called 'level 5 autonomy') in certain areas from 2022. That means hands off the wheel reading a book, or no steering wheel at all. Asides from getting more reading done, there are huge upsides in urban planning and sustainability from increased car-sharing, autonomous ride-hailing, reduced congestion, faster journeys and freed-up parking space. Dubai targets 25% automation by 2030. Mind-boggling stuff.

Driverless taxis. Credit: Cruise

Ships and mega-chargers

23% of global transport emissions are from non-road travel including shipping, aviation and rail, which has got to change. Electric rail? Easy peasy. But a “big” issue with electrification of ships has been the size of the on-board batteries and shore-side charging equipment required.

Not any more. Fully-electric short-haul car ferries are already in operation In Norway, with 1MW+ chargers on each shore plugging in for 15-20 minutes charging between journeys. Companies in China have gone a step further launching fully electric cargo ships with 1,000+ tonne capacities. Soon your new electric car will be delivered on a new electric ship.

Fully-electric ferry on the job in Norway. Credit: Ampere

Planes

On pre-coronavirus trajectories, 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 will come from air travel. But as batteries and hydrogen technology continue improving at eye-watering speed, electric commercial flights are expected within 10 years. This helps not only with climate change, but is also great for passengers: electric planes fly higher in thinner air, reducing drag and journey times.

2-seater electric planes are available to buy, 9-seaters have been tested, while EasyJet, Airbus, Siemens and Boeing target electric 150-passenger aircraft from 2030. Norway has banned fossil-fuel powered short-haul flights from 2040, so save up your annual leave until then.

Plans are shaping up for fully-electric commercial flights. Credit: Boeing

Flying pizza

We believe electric vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles (eVTOL UAVs) will grow to provide the majority of last-mile delivery services.

Dreams of avoided congestion, reduced infrastructure costs and rapid deliveries are driving innovation in this sector, and rapidly advancing battery and drone technology with declining costs are making it possible. Uber Eats, Amazon and Google have all already successfully tested eVTOL UAV food deliveries in cities in the US, and are planning commercial launch later this year.

McDonald's meals have been delivered by Uber drone in San Diego. Credit: Uber Eats

Flying cars

...but even more exciting, Porsche, Boeing, Uber and several others are now talking seriously about aerial passenger taxi services from the mid 2020s. Uber and Volocopter have the most ambitious plans, targeting launch as soon as 2023.

Today air travel is characterised by long distances, large jets, and large airports with scheduled boarding times. In future we could instead have a complex network of many smaller vehicles with rooftop or road-side walk-on/walk-off services. Unlike the significant infrastructure investment required for the tunnels envisioned by the Boring Company, with flying cars the sky's the limit.

Flying driverless taxis. Credit: Uber

We’re super excited about our electric future, and are buzzing to be a part of this industry. To find out more about Hypervolt’s advanced charging technology and to learn how our users are helping save the World, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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