If Elon Musk’s vision is anything to go by, the way we live in five years’ time will be unrecognisable. Known for his fantastical ideas, the entrepreneur has big plans for the way we interact with the world. At the centre of these is transport.
Elon Musk brought the concept of the Hyperloop to the foreground in 2013, when he released an open-source document detailing the high-speed, long-distance transport system. Then no more than a concept, the idea took flight in the subsequent years, with several start-ups developing their own renditions of the technology. In August of this year, Musk announced that his company (The Boring Company) would begin developing the project themselves. In a statement, the company states that they “plan to build low-cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems.”
The idea behind a Hyperloop was born from the need to provide more efficient transport. While it may be too early to speculate on its appearance in local cities, the goal isn’t too far removed from efforts around the country to provide more reliable and sustainable transport solutions.
Traditional cities were designed, to a large extent, around cars. With population growth and urbanisation on the rise, it’s the cities that have been hit the hardest. Traffic congestion and pollution levels have soared. In the much-publicised Tom-Tom traffic report (based on 2016 data), Cape Town was reported to experience a congestion level of 35%. This is an increase from the 25% measured in 2009. East London scored a 29% congestion level, up from 16% in 2009. By contrast, Recife in Brazil managed to lower its congestion levels from 45% (in 2009) to 37% in 2016.
Less radical, but no less interesting, the rise of electric cars changed how cities operate. Cape Town’s MyCiTi recently announced a pilot project in using battery-operated electric buses.
According to a July 2017 article by Business Tech, popularity of electric and hybrid cars are become increasingly rational in resource-scarce South Africa. Fluctuating fuel prices, paired with the clear environmental effects of conventional vehicles, mean that alternatives are more important than ever. In reality, however, we are unlikely to see the scale of change witnessed in global community. This is due, in part, to a lacking infrastructure and oftentimes unreliable electricity supply.
Internationally, Tesla seems to lead the way on publicising electric cars. The much-anticipated Model 3 went on sale earlier this year, with a waiting list for deliveries spanning to at least mid-2018. The company predicts that it will commence production of right-hand drive vehicles from 2019 onwards.
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