Do you remember watching those sci-fi movies which gave us a glimpse into the future that featured self-drying, self-fitting clothes, houses that did everything for you and of course, flying cars?
In Back to the Future’s second instalment, Michael J Fox’s jaunt into 2015 showed a world of hover boards and flying cars. In Steven Spielberg’s vision of 2054 in Minority Report, cars clean themselves and hum along in an accident-free system and travel on horizontal and vertical magnetic surfaces. These invisible roadways criss-cross in all directions, enabling cars to travel up an apartment building and dock outside the owner’s window. While parked, it will perform its own maintenance check, repairs, recharge and self-clean.
A lot of these depictions, while a bit too ambitious, are not far from the truth. If you have $350,000 (Dh1.2 million) to spare and a pilot’s licence, you can step into the future envisioned by these movies with the Terrafugia Transition. Half car and half plane, the futuristic vehicle allows you to jet off into the sky when you’re stuck in traffic.
For something smaller and equally futuristic, personal hovercraft have recently become available in the market. An AirBoard will not only set you back $15,000, but also make you the coolest kid on the block.
Another futuristic vehicle design which is on the market, but hasn’t quite captured popular imagination, is the monocycle, a single wheeled scooter which looks like you’re riding in a motorized hula hoop with a speed of up to 40 km/h.
Our everyday passenger cars have also been making headway into future technologies. As far back as 2006, Lexus launched its LS460 self-parking car. Since then a number of other brands including Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Toyota have rolled out their own self-parking systems.
Cars are also becoming miniature offices in which you can set climatic, musical and lighting conditions by voice control. The cars’ consoles are becoming steadily smarter, taking care of all your basic needs as you drive to work.
The big thing now is trying to find and master alternative energy sources for more sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly cars. For the immediate future we’re looking for cars which can slash dirhams off our petrol bills. Electric cars, hydrogen cars, compressed air and liquid nitrogen options have all been dangled before us with limited success in the UAE. For now, it is likely that hover boards and flying cars will monopolise people’s interests.