Where are the hover cars? The jet packs? Turner Wright laments the lack of transportation technology that should have arrived by now.

As a kid, I was told the future would be vastly different. “A hover car in every garage!” my parents said. “Vacations on the moon!” they said.

Most of it hasn’t come true. While personal gadgetry has certainly advanced (an entire record collection now fits on an iPod), revolutionary transportation options lag far beyond.

For this reason, we’re forced to imagine through movies and tv shows the changes we can expect. What forms of travel don’t exist yet, but should?

1. Tube Transport System (TTS)

Illustration: Futurama

Why rely on pneumatic tubes to deliver inter-office memos when one can merely state any destination in New York and get sucked along for the ride?

Futurama’s tube transport system is revolutionary and scenic, allowing tube-goers the opportunity to pick up some fresh Popplers at Fishy Joe’s “tube-thru”, and see the best of the city from above and below.

Unfortunately, even this form for transport isn’t beyond rush-hour traffic; city officials may have to commission the construction of several new tubes, causing delays throughout the system.

WARNING: The tube should be entered headfirst. Failure to do so will result in serious head injury or death.

2. Wormhole Opener

Photo: Sliders

For every action we take, there exists an infinite number of alternate actions that play out in parallel universes, continuously splitting like forks in the road.

Now suppose you had a wonderful device (like in the tv show Sliders) that allowed you to travel in and out of these alternate worlds… “a world where the Russians ruled America.. or where your dreams of being a superstar came true… or where San Francisco was a maximum security prison.”

Perhaps you might even come across a universe identical to our own in every way, except there no one argues about the difference between a tourist and a traveler.

3. Teleportation Deck

Photo: Star Trek

Teleportation may not be too far off. Instead of dealing with ridiculous security sweeps, checking baggage, sitting for hours, and eating tasteless food, why not eliminate it all by standing on a transporter pad and arriving across the world in less than a second?

Haven’t you ever imagined where you would go and what you would do if commuting times were essentially reduced to zero?

Live in Paris, grab a sushi lunch in Tokyo, kayak down the Amazon in the afternoon, relax with some meditation walks across the barren South Pole, then follow it up a real Mexican dinner and Thai fried bananas fresh from the street stalls for dessert.

4. Hover cars

Despite the promise of these wonders as a child, hover cars have yet to arrive – though MIT students may have accelerated the schedule by producing a prototype.

The Terrafugia personal air vehicle is to be released by 2011 and provide all those who can afford it the chance to drive their “plane” from their home to the airport for takeoff.

Perfecting this flying car technology should be the least of everyone’s concerns, however. We all need to make sure it’s kept out of the hands of The Fast and the Furious creative team… just think of it… a movie with flying cars, Vin Diesel, and no plot whatsoever.

5. Jetpacks

Illustration: Rocketeer

All the early 20th century sci-fi books promised everyone in the future would be zipping around in jet packs to go to school, play high-altitude basketball, and enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon flight.

Well, now it’s the future, where’s my jetpack? The latest developments in jetpack technology seem to come from Glenn Martin of New Zealand, whose own design has been proven to hover at three feet for at least thirty minutes.

Although regular commuters may as well stick to the transporter, there’s something about having complete mastery of the skies, nothing between you and the Earth for thousands of feet.

6. Infinite Improbability Device

Photo: capt tim

With this technology from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the more improbable it is that something will happen (e.g. your arm turning into a delicious looking bag of potato chips), the more likely it is to happen with the drive engaged.

“…based on a particular perception of quantum theory: a subatomic particle is most likely to be in a particular place, such as near the nucleus of an atom, but there is also a small probability of it being found very far from its point of origin (for example close to a distant star). Thus, a body could travel from place to place… if you had sufficient control of probability.” – Source

Travelers should be careful not to turn the device to full infinite probability, as it would cause everyone and everything in the universe to vanish in an “unlikely” explosion of ice cream.

I think I’d still prefer this over dealing with the airlines…

Feature illustration: Steve Thomas

What forms of imaginary travel do you wish you could use in the real world? Share your ideas in the comments below!