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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!



About The Author

Turner Wright

Turner Wright is a marathon runner first, an adventurer second, and a writer through it all. Apparently, he has a thing for island nations, having lived in Japan, and soon to be headed for New Zealand. Check out his adventures at Keeping Pace in Japan.

  • Brian from

    Since we are talking transporters, we should have the warp drive for off planet adventures. The rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, going beyond Pluto…imagine the possibilities!

    Granted you won’t be able to land on the planet and breathe the air, but you can say you were there.

  • david miller

    the greatest form of travel already exists. it’s called surfing.

    • DHarbecke

      Isn’t that more like the greatest form of returning to where you just swam out from? :)

      • Lola


  • Christine Garvin

    South Pole and Thai fried bananas–what a combination!

  • Tom Gates

    I wish you were on train rides with me. This is what I think about. I start out thinking about world peace or something important, then end up here.

    • Carlo Alcos

      Maybe this IS the answer to world peace. Don’t sell yourself short.

  • DHarbecke

    I take McCoy’s side on transporters. You’re essentially disintegrated, then recombined… this isn’t transportation, it’s replication. The real “you” just dematerialized! You are no more! You have ceased to be! (Sorry, channeling Monty Python…)

    Tube transport won’t catch on because your hair would get mussed. Call me a pessimist.

    Hovercars need hoverbrakes. Until then, I ain’t hovergoing.

    Jetpacks would be OK, until traffic got bad. Plus, you know how bad truck bombs are… imagine one coming from 10,000 feet! Nasty.

    Wormholes. That’s the way to do things. Like going through a door, except wormier. And no subpar food en route! The only drawback would be those sloppy arrivals like they did in Sliders. They’ve got the technology to cross dimensions – is it so hard to aim for something soft? BOOF! on the big comfy bed…

    Wormholes, baby.

  • Carlo Alcos

    Funny post. I’ve often wondered the same thing. 2000 was so futuristic back in the 80s, we were supposed to have colonized the moon by now.

    Of course I realize this is tongue in cheek, but to take all the fun out of it for a sec…part of traveling and some of the best experiences come from the journey, so I’d like to keep kickin it old school. So to speak.

    Besides, teleporting would be sure to attract all the Trekies, and I’d like to avoid those people.

  • Shreya

    Disapparition? Floo powder? Invisibility Cloaks? Separate jail cell for Harry Potter nerds? Yes.

    Great piece, Turner

    • Turner Wright

      I never even considered the magical ones… I guess I was thinking of the “impossible” yet possible

  • Jean – OurExplorer Tour Guide

    Very interesting and imaginative! Well, years later, when some of these actually turned out real, would be amazing. Like submarine appeared in writing earlier than in our real world.

  • prasetio

    quantum leap is the way to travel around the world. maybe in the 50 next century.


    Fun post. It would nice to have a Wormhole Opener or Jet Pack. I too would like the Harry Potter Magic Wand or use Floo Powder. What about the hand-held device called an Omni (looked like a large pocket watch) which they used on the 1980s TV series Voyagers. Just enter the time and place and WOOSH, you’re either back in time, visit the future, or stay in the now. The choice is yours!

  • Turner Wright
  • Seal

    I just love that you referenced Sliders- that completely made my morning. However, I vote teleportation!

  • Darin Selby

    Imagine the addition of an elegant CHARIOT to travel to-and-fro in, and have at festival events!  This is not your typically-operated vehicle, though.  It travels much like the motion of a clock escapement mechanism in a grandfather clock. 
    The runner/driver of this balancing rickshaw gets their own weight lifted up by the weight of the cargo.  A ”rolling teeter-totter”, no less!  Instead of a driver weighing 170 pounds, now they weigh 50 pounds, and are able to make 15-20 ft. leaps while operating this vehicle! rickshaw-philosopherThe runner/driver gets to actually moonwalk when pulling around this balance-mobile chariot.   High pressure, 100 psi. tires are the key to the rolling resistance going down to virtually nil.After the performance, the entire chariot can then be folded up to be towed as a flatbed trailer behind a vehicle!Imagine many balancing Dreamcatchermobiles, which interact with the audience, allowing them to participate by actually entering and riding in a magical vehicle during a show…with other vehicles; all could be moving together in elegant flowform flower patterns (much like the synchronized swimmers of the ’60′s).   A chariot can also be covered in skin, to be the skeletal structure of an articulated talking dragon puppet!  The front legs of the dragon are the disguised chariot driver’s legs.  So the illusion of galloping can be created! (Puppethopper drawing) (different designs)  (Santa Barbara Chariot) (A Chariot that folds up into a flatbed car trailer!)  (A Solar-powered Chariot/Trailer idea, which utilizes a tail fin to steer it!  Yes, this concept depicts the operation of a true ’land plane’  For, just as a plane is balanced upon its fulcrum wings, this too is perfectly balanced upon its fulcrum wheels!) Future models of what I call the Snowhopper will demonstrate the steerability with a tail fin, far surpassing the steering of the’front skis’ on a traditional snowmobile.       

  • Prathap Balam

    Future of mans lives…

  • Jared Joseph

    The basic concept of teleportation is particle dis-assimilation and re-assimilation which is impossible to do to a human. Breaking down and building back from such a degree is impossbile to be carried out at such an extent. This will exert tremendous pressure on the human body. So this wont be happening anytime soon.

  • vin

    jetpack is perfect – fast, traffic-less, and making us feel like superman

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