Lilium 5-seater jets are expected to be in use in London by 2025.

2050 Paper’s Series Begins with Automated Electric Planes & Taxis

The Financial Times, a leading London newspaper, created a 6-part series on what futurists and tech experts predict will be the standard way of living in 30 years. The first part examined theories about how cities will be hubs for AI-run transportation, which will be ubiquitous, as well as including the use of bicycles and small machines to get around on sidewalks.

In its first story, the futuristic series, sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, examines the way traffic will move and how mobility will be heavily influenced by AI.

Here’s an excerpt:

Electric, self-driving cars could also radically change the look of cities. By 2050, we will have full “Level 5” autonomy” in vehicles, says Paul Newman, founder of Oxbotica, a company making such software. “This is when we get to cars with no windscreen and no steering wheel,” he says. Such cars could change the way cities are laid out, says Willem Strijbosch, head of autonomous driving at TomTom, the mapping company. “It could free up a lot of space. If the vast majority of transport is done by autonomous vehicles the streets could be narrower,” he says.

Self-driving cars communicating with each other through a wireless network would be able to pass each other with centimetre precision. “You may be able to fit four lanes in where you previously had three. Traffic lights will be no longer needed. Cars will communicate via maps and will figure out right of way at crossings in a different way.”

Elon Musk’s hyperloop is mentioned, too, involving traveling at high speeds in pods inside vacuum-sealed tubes. Anita Sengupta, a rocket scientist and ex-NASA engineer, co-founded the Detroit-based start-up Airspace Experience Technologies, which is developing the flying taxis. She says calling them for use will be more efficient and faster than a car service. The catch is that they would need “an airspace bubble” around them in terms of space. An AI air traffic control system would have to keep them safe by monitoring space use.

Because every city will be different, Simon Whalley of Skyports, which builds drone infrastructure, says air taxis will be the solution for some. Volocopter is working with Skyports to build prototype air pads for cities. Electric planes, too, will make regional travel easier.

Because of the possibility of super-fast travel, a story in the first part of the series explores how vacations will change. One in two people will be able to take an international trip instead of one in seven, leisure time will expand and short city breaks will be popular.

read this story about Eviation, the first electric jet company, based in Israel and manufactured in Prescott, AZ.