The rats of the road Essay

Personally, I love and hate cars simultaneously. I see them as engineering marvels but at the same time they pollute our air and after their life, they build up our scrapyards and landfills. They are the rats of the roads. I do think of a lot of things as an engineering marvel and most of them are outdated. The car is not fit for the future; I see a future where the vast majority of people use public transport or become part of the sharing economy. About a week ago, I was on a train to London and outside I saw traffic snaking up at Brixton. Two lines of steel and tire were formed. Each car was capable of traveling a hundred miles in an hour but each averaged a few miles in their stop-start-stop manner. The road was laid out for miles ahead. The road was cracked as if it wanted to erupt in anger but was kept together by the weight of the metal behemoths. Each metallic monster had room for many but carried one or if it was generous two. They seemed to me like multi-coloured cocoons littered on the road; asleep and not aware of their putrid fumes. Each owner was in their own self-contained world blinded by a radio that told stories, sung songs or sold more products to destroy the planet. However, that is just my perspective. A man in his Mercedes S-class who has formed a part of the steel and tire line would have a completely different perspective. If you zoom in on the driver, you can see that he is sitting in the front seat with so much soft leather around him that he could barely hear the scream of the sirens from behind as the ambulance drove rapidly and veered onto the pavement. He would just see it as another day in the city. He looks over to my train and chuckles to himself. He notices everyone's awake yet everyone's asleep, simultaneously. The commuters eyes are bleary, reactions slow, tiredness running in their veins just the same as their blood. It takes forever, it seems, for the passengers to reach their destination. The Mercedes driver knows that the train journey has been plagued with delays. He would start chuckling again when the rattling, the hum, the purr, the reverberating, the shaking shook the commuters inside like biscuits in a tin. It shook them so much that they could feel their brains rattling in their skulls. Both perspectives are justified but the future will be radically different for cars and trains. From our current perspective, it is quite hard to imagine a world without cars crawling on the road like insects. We are already observing crazy innovations and inventions to shorten our commutes. They include space travel, passenger carrying drones, pods that are able to connect Paris and London in half an hour, elevated cycle paths, smart roads, super yachts powered like a sailboat, straddling busses, and of course self-driving cars. In order to imagine the future we will need to stop looking at the world using our current perspective. We need to adopt the perspective of future generations. In order to do that we need to ask what will the future generations value the most? The answer to that is the environment. People will become more eco-friendly and would rather not use modes of transport that are polluting and have a short product life cycle like cars whether they are self-driving or not. One of the coolest modes of transport in the future will be passenger carrying drones. A Chinese company, called Ehang, is working on building these drones. The drones will carry passengers without needing a pilot and it could also be powered using solar panels. This new technology will wave goodbye to the growl of the engine, the hiss of pneumatics, the smell of petrol and the dripping black oil of cars. To us, this technology looks like a billionaire’s toy and we are right because it costs $300",000 to buy it right now. However, in the future, our perspective will change and this will become a sky-born cradle that we could curl up in as our brain relaxes into dreaming mode. Recently, an ignite engineering talk was given at the sixth form by a man who was working on building a mast that was the size of a football pitch for a sailing yacht. This sail yacht, named black pearl, was built for a Russian billionaire and it is mainly powered using the wind and it only needs 20 litres of petrol. Astonishing when you realise that this sailing yacht is 100 meters in length. Again, this might seem like a billionaire’s toy right now but in the future, this could be commercialised and traveling on a sailing yacht might be economically feasible. I can imagine in the future where people will be waiting at the port for a sailing yacht to arrive. Then as if by divine command a sailing yacht appears on the horizon, glistening in the sunrise. They watch it make a steady approach, the outline of the yacht becoming more clear every moment. The future will be bright and eco-friendly. However, I think the coolest mode of transport in the future will be space travel that is economically feasible. Currently, billionaires like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Paul Allen, and Jeff Bezos are all working on this. I believe one day we will be going on holiday to space. Envision yourself in a rocket filled with brittle silence, where there is no gravity to hold you firmly nor is there any gravity to supervise your zeal and mind. You will be briskly floating in amidst the glistening musical notes of a serenade, emanating out of nothing. You look at the window and see the brimless pool of space: a pool of subtle light that has adorned itself with the diamonds of thousand stars and of thousand dreams, for these that have weaved themselves on to the cosmic ether of divinity and have hung on to the frame of the universe. What seems like only stars can do today, you will be able to do the same tomorrow and float in space with the stars. However, there is a different perspective on space travel. Donald Trump has recently created the new US space force, which is just another way to cause stress in a population and cause enough tension to bring conflict. We can only hope for the best. All of these modes of transport will probably be available during our lifetime at a low cost. These developments will save us time and hence make us more productive. It will allow us to have more leisure time in life whether that being on earth or not. We will be more thoughtful about the modes of transport that we use in order to save our planet. However, we could also be pessimistic and say that advances in technology will be used for evil. It all depends on your perspective.

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