The idea of designing cars capable of running on tracks is not a new one, since we already have tracks crisscrossing the country. However, how one gets the car off the tracks is unclear.
"Adrenalin-Driven" Bike Pods
This ultra-modern Shweeb alternative transportation system built in New Zealand has been given over one million dollars by Google, who see it as a technology that could change the way we travel through cities in the future. "Adrenalin-driven", these pods reach a speedy 45 mph.
High-Speed Highway Travel of the Future
Retro-futuristic drawings like this one blend the creative and the scientific, creating startling possibilities. This night scape shows interlacing highways, as well as futuristic architecture. The car itself has a screen, could this be a GPS? A radio? Or maybe a heart rate monitor? Also notable, in the future we drive on the yellow lines.
Retro-futurism is a trend of artistic creativity that boomed after the two World Wars, as break though technology began to reach people's day-to-day lives.
Recognized by its simple, streamlined, and colorful projections of the future, retro-futurism portrays the the artist's hope for a brighter, more technologically efficient future, as well as accurate depictions of the core values and ideals of their era.
Most retro-future transportation systems are vast, designed to incorporate scientific discoveries to maximize the capitalist experience; making rides faster, easier, and sleeker. Unlike today's modern design pictures, these illustrations have a very human feel, portraying leisure activities that paint an emotional depiction of the desire for a "perfect" world.
The thousands of ideas that were born during this period continue to awe, fascinate, and inspire to this day..
Traveling on Land and Sky
Though at first glance this futuristic highway scene appears normal, on closer inspection we can see six different interlacing four-lane highways, as well as three train-esque above ground transport systems to top it off. Plus, driving is made easier by driving on the yellow lines.
Most Expensive Highway Ever Built
This present day image does not look too different, however! This bird's-eye-view of the Big Dig, shows the complex highway system that was rerouted through the heart of Boston. It is recognized as being the most expensive highway project in US history - at a cost of $22 billion.
Enormous Vacation Hovercraft
It is the contrast of 1940's and 50's sentiments and nostalgia against futuristic images of an idealist reality that makes retro-futurism both so fascinating. Huge automobiles, modeled after those popular at the time reoccur throughout.
Modern Hovercraft Ship
So far, making these ideas become a reality has been a challenge, and often an impossibility. Here is a successful model UH-19XRW hovercraft. These are commercially available.
The two-lane highway hardly seems necessary with automatic steering!
Though vehicles that drive themselves are not currently on the market, a 2009 MSNBC article says that they will probably be debuting auto-pilot luxury cars very soon. In a 2007 competition, corporately-sponsored teams equipped vehicles with "sensors and artificial intelligence" and when the cars were placed in a mock cityscape, they "proved capable of obeying traffic signals while merging, passing, and parking".
(Image of a radar system attached to the cruise control as used in the Volvo S80)
.."When Automobiles Both Swim and Fly"
With your own personal pilot of this shark-like vehicle, this is not in fact an ad for the airplane car itself, but one for the oil to protect the ball bearings.
The Terrafugia, the "roadable, light sport aircraft"
This commercially available aircraft/automobile has folding winds that make it capable of navigating both land and sky.
The Moller Skycar
The realization of the airplane car - the Moller Skycar, due to be released in the coming years, has been in progress for the last 40.
May 21st, 1948 - A remarkable day in the history of pint-sized automobiles.
Smallest Portable Car?
Even smaller in scale, this mini-vehicle is practically luggage-sized! When your legs get cramped you can hop out and pull it the rest of the way.
Tiny Nissan "New Mobility Concept"
A more modern approach, this tiny electric Nissan model, called the New Mobility Concept, was released in Japan this November, and is designed mainly for short commutes, and a "sustainable, zero-emission society".
Monster Convertible House
Retro-futuristic drawings blend the creative and the scientific leading to startling possibilities. This illustration gives living out of your car (or working from it!) a whole new meaning. In terms of scale, it looks like this monster would take up at least two lanes however.
...By Land or By Sea
Though this home vehicle is not a convertible, the Terra Wind Amphibious RV is both a luxury automobile on land and a yacht by sea! Like most luxury vehicles, it comes complete with a "6-foot swim deck, an 8-jet whirlpool, marble floors, wood paneling, leather furnishings, and a fully equipped home theater system featuring a 42-inch plasma TV" according to their website, and it only costs a million dollars!
Life in a Glass Bubble
Retro-futuristic transportation systems were often enormously detailed, and incorporated scientific design to maximize the individuals experience, making life faster, easier, and sleeker. This indoor city is complete with flying saucers, people flying in space suits, and a train line tracing the outside of the dome. Is this even Earth? Luckily there man's best friend is still with us in this indoor world!
The Biosphere II
Though we don't live in domed cities yet, the retro-futuristic image above closely resembles that of the Biosphere II. The Biosphere was used in the 90's for two experiments which sealed eight scientists in a 3 acre enclosure in order to test methods of space colonization , sustainability, and the systems of balance that operate in enclosed ecosystems. Such a rift grew between the eight "Biospepherians" that they reportedly haven't spoken to each other since the experiment ended in 1994.
This Russian image of a train climbing into the sky looks airplane-like in shape, and the support arches seem incredibly high, for no apparent reason since the train seems to only be covering road and agricultural land.
World's Fastest Train
Though it's not on upraised stilts, this ultra-modern Chinese train just broke the speed record previously set by trains - reaching 262 miles per hour!
Skyline-Propeller Driven Train
The "Skyline" propeller-driven train would "go from 0 to 115mph in a little over a mile" and promised "a new concept in swift, smooth, and comfortable passenger train service". This idea has been actualized in many cities and airports, though without the propeller.
Though it does not have a propeller, this sort of Skytrain does exist in many cities. This specific photo is of the Düsseldorf Airport Skytrain system.
Trains, Jets, and Raised Highways, Oh my!
A somewhat menacing image of a future city - with multiple transport systems throughout the cityscapes.
As seen on the cover of 1951's February issue of Popular Mechanics, it was believed at the time that in the future we would all be wheeling personal helicopters into the garage.
Futuristic transport options for the military! Individual helicopters, also known as "sky horses"
Another version of these "sky horses", though this time they're depicted as more ski-lift like.
"Sky Horse" Experimentation
This idea did end up being heavily experimented with during the 1940's. This particular 1945 model does not have the landing base, making it incredibly difficult to land.
This 1946 version was complete with more sensible, stable legs for landing.
Space-Age Real Estate
Whether it is a couple in a hovercraft, or a young boy driving an autopilot car of the highway, these often ridiculous images are tied to our perception of what it means to be happy. The relevance of the space-age is great in many of these illustrations; in this one we see an example of retro-future real-estate!
Furniture on an Unfamiliar Planet
60's-style furniture on an unnamed planet. Could this be moving day? The rocket doesn't look particularly homey.
Lunchtime in the Space Station
But everyday life continues in space! There is even Coke and sandwiches!
Burgers in Zero Gravity
Clearly the artists had at least one thing right, that eating in space would be a challenge!
The genre of retro-futurism focused mainly on fantastic new fashions, architectural designs, and new systems of transport. Many of these designs continue to influence the ideas we have and the way we imagine science today.