Qhov tsab xov xwm hu ua “Los ntawm driverless lub tsheb jetpacks: raws li cov tech innovators reshaping pib” raug sau los ntawm Andy Txo Hwj Chim, rau theguardian.com rau hnub Saturday 14th kaum ib hlis 2015 14.13 UTC
New Zealand-raws li Martin Aircraft tuam txhab flagship khoom yog ib qho unconventional ya tshuab: a jetpack that might seem like a prop from a sci-fi movie, were it not for the fact that it’s well on the road to commercialization.
Nyob rau hauv Lub kaum hli ntuj, New Zealand’s civil aviation authority cleared the company’s Prototype 12 model jetpack for manned flights. The fan-propelled jetpack, when shown in June at the Paris Air Show, could soar almost 1,000 meters and fly up to half an hour. The company’s jetpacks are expected to become commercially available sometime in the second half of 2016.
Lub Jetpack txoj kev loj hlob yog ib tug piv txwv ntawm lub tswv yim loj thiab loj bets tau ua nyob rau kev thauj mus los-teem qhauj, qhov twg tuam txhab uas muag zoo li Martin Aircraft yog sib xeem khiav mus rau hauv lub deb npoo ntawm yog dab tsi tau. Peb ua neej nyob rau lub tsag ntawm ib lub sij hawm thaum lub tsheb yuav "siab autonomous nyob rau hauv lub sij hawm ntev", raws li Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Nyob rau hauv ib tug hu nrog hluav taws xob tsheb shareholders lub hlis no, nws muab nws 15 rau 20 xyoo.
Muaj ntau ntau ntawm lwm yam kev thauj mus los ua lag luam nrog piv kev pab them nqi ntawm lawv tus kheej, from spaceships that make suborbital flights rau aircrafts that take off and land vertically.
The Guardian reached out to a few of these innovators to get a sense of where the future of transportation is headed. We asked how they’re addressing the inherent technical challenges and why they decided to get into this space in the first place. What we found is strong optimism for a near future where strapping on a jetpack could be as normal as getting behind the wheel.
Martin Aircraft CEO Peter Coker paub nws ua lag ua luam yuav tshwm sim yuav tsum tau ua nyob rau hauv ib tug fantastically improbable pom kev.
"Nws yog kuv tus tub uas ntxias kom kuv mus koom lub tuam txhab,"Coker hais tias, txawm txoj kev sib tw. "Peb twb nyob rau hnub caiv, thiab kuv tus tub, uas ua haujlwm rau ib tug boutique peev lub tuam txhab nyob rau hauv London, rightfully taw tes qhia tawm: ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in the biggest change in aviation in the last century?' "
In a hurry to get their jetpacks to market, 2015 has been something of a defining year for the company, which has in recent months been locking up agreements, partnerships and showing off the design to potential customers. It has expanded to 53 people across 13 nationalities and is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Describing the future of jetpacks, Coker envisions a “highway in the sky” or a “fourth dimension of transport”, qhov twg hauv lub nruab nrab tus neeg yuav sai mus los ntawm ib tug taw tes mus rau lwm lub.
"Peb pom tau hais sai sai nqi hluav taws xob nyob ib ncig ntawm ib yam dab tsi zoo li no yog dua tshaj nws ua xwb koj tus kheej Jetpack,"Hais tias Coker, ib tug qub Lockheed Martin thawj. "Peb kuj pom ib lub sij hawm nyob rau hauv lub sector coj mus muag - rau roj thiab cov nkev, tsuas thiab ua liaj ua teb. "
Lub tswvyim ntawm ib tug ya Jetpack yuav suab zoo li ib tug nyuaj muag rau dubious tub ua lag luam thiab tej zaum ib tug choj nyob deb heev rau tej kev koom tes thiab cov neeg muas zaub. But Coker says just seeing the thing can help clinch a sale. When his company shows a picture or video of the concept or presents a prototype in action, Coker says it “immediately triggers the dream I had when I was a kid”. In some ways, nws hais tias, getting that buy-in is the easy part.
It’s certainly less complicated than surmounting the inherent technical challenges that come with building a system that includes a gas engine and two fans that provide the needed lift.
"Thaum koj coj neeg los ntawm cov philosophy ntawm seb nws ua hauj lwm - zoo li tag nrho cov zoo nrhav, nws yog ib tug tham tus me nyuam uas zoo yooj yim - lawv tau txais nws,"Coker hais tias. "Lawv tau nqi hluav taws xob ntawm nws, thiab txhua txhua lub sij hawm peb mus nthuav nws qhov chaw, ib tug neeg tseem los nrog ib co txawv txoj kev uas siv nws. "
Transportation innovations like the jetpacks are taking on a variety of other forms – some incremental, some groundbreaking.
Driverless car technology is one of the hottest sectors at the moment, with manufacturers from Ford to Mercedes-Benz making driverless tech plays. Sensors and assistive capabilities were also among the themes of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Rethinking Transportation for the Next 30 Years summit in October in Washington DC.
Lub laub mus rau autonomy yog nyob rau hauv lub plawv ntawm ntau tam sim no kev thauj mus los breakthroughs. Nyob rau hauv Tesla lub peb lub hlis twg shareholder tsab ntawv tso tawm 3 Kaum ib hlis, lub tuam txhab sau tias, "Peb cov neeg muas zaub tsav lawv cov tsheb yuav luag 250m mais no peb lub hlis twg, rau ib tug tag nrho ntawm ze li ntawm 1.5bn mais rau hnub tim. "Tesla, tsab ntawv mus rau, yog tab tom nrhiav rau pem hauv ntej mus rau lub hnub "thaum peb yuav qhia koj yuav ua li cas nyob deb peb lub tsheb twb tau tsav peb cov neeg muas zaub".
Xws li ib tug yav tom ntej yog ib tug foregone xaus mus rau Italian engineer thiab muaj designer Tommaso Gecchelin. He’s sketched out a modular concept he’s calling Tom ntej that features what are essentially electric pods that can connect and disconnect to other pods as needed, like some futuristic train that can start small and grow to expand, accordion-style.
“Based on our technology and user needs trends analysis … it’s very likely that in the future we will see a revolutionary segmentation of the transportation market,” Gecchelin says. “On one side, human-driven cars will become like horses with the advent of motorized cars. Yog li ntawd, cov kev ua si tsheb yuav ua mas, thaum nroog tsheb yuav ua tsawg qhov kev kawm, muab ntau qhov chaw rau tsheb thauj mus los ntse systems uas yuav muab ib tug ntau pab tau thiab ua tau raws … mus thiab mus ub no kev. "
Nws xav txog lub caij nws Tom ntej tswvyim raws li ntau tshaj li ib tug commuter qauv. Nws yuav ob npaug raws li ib qhov kev pab tus me nyuam system, nrog cov lag luam cas los yog owning pods ntawm lawv tus kheej thiab xa lawv loaded nrog cov khoom rau ib tug neeg lub tsev.
Gecchelin hais tias nws pib xav txog ib qho kev daws taw qhia kom paub nyob ib ncig ntawm "ua hauj lwm, leisure and on-demand services [es] traffic optimization”. Thaum lub caij, he’s looking for funding to allow the manufacture of a first fleet to demonstrate the concept in the real world. He’s currently talks with a few German cities about potential partnerships.
“This is what robotics and self driving technologies will lead to,"Nws hais tias. “Intelligence and self driving unlock the possibility for vehicles to collaborate exactly like it happens with Next.”
Other than technical hurdles, ib tug ntawm cov loj tshaj obstacles sawv nyob rau hauv txoj kev ntawm xws nrhav yog tus txheej xwm quo. Yuav luag 17m tshiab tsheb yuav muab muag thiab ntaus kev lus hla nyob rau hauv lub US xyoo no - cov tsheb uas yuav tsis ntev nws yuav tso tseg rau ib tug tshaj dhau txoj kev tshiab ntawm tau txais los ntawm ib tug taw tes rau lub tom ntej no.
Nyob rau hauv ib qho kev sim innovate nyob rau hauv kev sib raug zoo nrog cov xwm txheej quo, Paul Elio frames the utility of his company’s flagship vehicle to something like the iPad. In the same way the tablet hasn’t proven to be a PC killer but instead complements users’ existing range of devices, Elio sees his company’s vehicle as something like the iPad of a customer’s garage. Phoenix-based Elio Motors is taking orders now for its three-wheeled, motorcycle-like vehicle that gets 84 miles to the gallon and which it plans to release next year with an affordable $6,800 price tag.
"Kuv xav hais tias ib yam dab tsi zoo li no muaj tshwm sim,"Hais tias Elio, uas nws tuam txhab twb muaj ntau tshaj li 47,000 zos rau nws lub tsheb. "Kuv nyob rau hauv New York City rau txog ib lub xyoo thiab ib nrab, thiab kuv hlub lub subway system muaj. Thaum uas koj muaj uas loj pejxeem, loj pib tej hauj lwm.
"Rau tus so ntawm lub teb chaws, peb obviously yog yuav tsum rhuav tag nrho cov suburbs thiab tsim loj chaw los yog xam tawm ib tug ntau npaum txoj kev uas tau los ntawm lub suburbs mus rau lub downtowns qhov twg peb ua hauj lwm. "
Elio’s prototype product is technically classified as a motorcycle, but it comes with amenities like power windows, air conditioning, air bags and power lock doors, all in an enclosed body. The vehicles will be produced by Elio in Shreveport, Louisiana, at a former General Motors production facility.
“It’s got to be low-cost and high-mileage – it’s got to be both of those to work,"Nws hais tias. “This is an ‘and’ choice, not an ‘or’ choice. So the concept is you buy the big vehicle for the reason you bought it, and you have an Elio too. Koj tsav Elio mus ua hauj lwm, thiab nyob rau hnub Saturday koj tawm koj SUV. "
Elio hais tias nws txiav txim siab los tso nws lub tuam txhab thiab tsim nws tus kheej cim tsheb tom qab nyob los ntawm cov nyiaj txiag poob siab ntawm 2008 - Nyob rau hauv tas li ntawd rau nws txoj kev ntseeg hais tias tus dealership-raws li lub tsheb ua lag ua luam yog ib tug ntawm "gamesmanship" thiab kev lagluam uas yog tsis nyob rau hauv tus neeg lub haum. Yog ib yam uas nws sai sai kawm raws li nws teem txog pav tua ya Elio cov Motors lwm yam yog tias ob peb yam uas muaj raws li fraught uas muaj teeb meem rau ib tug ua lag luam raws li sim pib ib lub tsheb tshiab lub tuam txhab.
“There are more barriers to entry in this space than anything else I’m aware of,” Elio says. “If you take Tesla out of the discussion, the last time somebody created a successful car company in America that’s still running was Walter P Chrysler in 1925.”
Back during the recession, when “the price of oil was going through the roof”, Elio says he became “pissed off seeing the wealth pouring out of this country”.
"Kuv hais tias, I want to build a $5,000 car that gets 65 miles per gallon,” he recalls. “I had no data to back that up. Peb pib ua hauj lwm cov teeb meem. Kuv tseem xav hais tias ib tug $5,000 tsheb yuav tau ib tug ntxim hlub tooj. Tab sis raws li cov architecture pib tsim thiab peb pib lub rooj sib tham nrog lwm tus thiab tau txais nqi, peb pom tau hais no yuav tsis muaj ib tug ntau ntawm cov yam ntxwv hais tias cov neeg yuav tau txais. "
Nws ntseeg hais tias lub khw muag khoom ua lag ua luam pib yuav tsum tau hloov mus vim hais tias cov tswv lag luam yog tsis tshab nrog lub tsheb cov nqi thiab cov nyiaj txiag.
"Kuv xav tias ib tug ntawm cov loj tshaj teeb meem yog cov ua lag ua luam qauv yog lawm,"Hais tias Elio, who says he’s dreamed about owning a car company with his name on it since he was a young boy. “The purchase of a car is such an enormous game, which is why we have the $6,800 figure. If you know what you want and there’s no financing issue, it shouldn’t take you five hours to buy a vehicle.”
The year after Elio started his company, Denver-raws li David Brody twb teem tawm nws tus kheej txoj kev. Nws startup, XTI Aircraft, tau tsim ib lub tswvyim rau ib tug rau-lub rooj lag luam dav hlau uas yoov zoo li ib qho cov neeg nrog caij dav hlau, tab sis nrog ib tug twist - nws kuj yuav siv sij hawm thiab pawg neeg thaj av mas.
Lub tuam txhab TriFan 600 dav hlau siv peb ducted kiv cua rau lub ntsug liftoff. Vib nas this tom qab takeoff, ob tis kiv cua r otate rau pem hauv ntej ua hauj lwm ceev rau kab rov tav davhlau. Ib tug kiv cua mounted rau cov fuselage kaw. Thaum nws los lub sij hawm mus rau av, tus txheej txheem plays tawm nyob rau hauv rov qab.
XTI claims the aircraft will be the first long-range vertical-takeoff commercial airplane. Other companies are also developing vertical-takeoff technology. In June, Boeing demonstrated a near-vertical takeoff of a Dreamliner.
Brody got a spark of inspiration about a decade ago when his son was 10 years old and brought home an issue of Time magazine. He recalls it included an article about an entrepreneur trying to develop a mini jet that could take off and land vertically.
“That got me thinking,” Brody says. "Yog hais tias koj saib nyob rau dab tsi yog tshwm sim ntau tshaj tas los ob peb lub xyoo nyob rau hauv cov nqe lus ntawm cov kev kho tshiab nyob rau hauv ntaub ntawv: peb muaj sib zog cov ntaub ntawv thiab muaj teeb meem loj kho nyob rau hauv lub dav hlau xyaw. Qhov no dav hlau muaj ob turboshaft xyaw, ntxiv txaav nyob rau hauv lub computer technology tau tso cai rau ntau npaum li cas controllability thiab stability ntawm cov aircraft raws li zoo raws li kev sib tsoo avoidance. Ib txhia ntawm cov driverless tsheb technology yuav zaum ua si lub luag hauj lwm nyob rau hauv lub aircraft ntawm lub neej yav tom ntej. "
Brody believes that the future of the moderate commercial aircraft will be in vertical takeoff and landing. The technology would eliminate the cost of building and maintaining airports with long runways. It also could make flying even more accessible by creating air taxi services that pick you up not far from your home if not at your front door.
Lub qhov kawg frontier rau kev thauj mus los ua lag luam, ntawm chav kawm, yog tawm ntawm lub ntiaj teb no. California-raws li XCOR Aerospace tau pib muag daim pib rau flights rau nws Lynx series ntawm suborbital tsheb, uas yuav muab coob uas xam nrog thiab payloads rau ib qhov chaw txawv tebchaws mus 330,000 txhais kotaw uas kav tsawg tshaj li ib teev.
Coob uas xam nrog yuav yeej tseem zoo lub co-tsav rau txawv tebchaws - cov nkaus xwb lwm yam neeg caij lub voyage dhau li ntawm tus tsav. Raws li xws, they’ll be given a “call sign” and will be able to view space through the Lynx cockpit canopy that affords an expansive view of space.
The vehicle is powered by reusable rocket engines that run on kerosene and liquid oxygen.
“At the core of what we’ve developed at XCOR is a fully reusable rocket engine,” says board member Michiel Mol. “That may not seem spectacular, but it actually is. Every other rocket out there is one-time use only. We have what we call instant reusability. Our engine can fly, touch down and go on.”
Raws li xws, lub Lynx txog ntsha tau, nws hais tias, coj coob uas xam nrog yeej tseem zoo rau tus ciaj ciam ntawm qhov chaw. XCOR xav txog lub caij pib xeem flights tej tom ntej no lub caij ntuj sov thiab muab lawv mus rau hauv coj mus muag siv rau mus rau 12 lub hlis tom qab uas, nrog coj mus muag flights pib tejzaum nyob rau hauv 2017.
Lub tuam txhab tau muag ib tug ob peb puas daim pib twb, feem ntau tau txais kev pab uas muaj ib tug mob siab rau kev qhov chaw. (Thiab leej twg muaj nyiaj mus siv: daim pib yog $100,000 ib lub davhlau.)
"Peb saib txhua txhua astronaut uas tau rau qhov chaw tau rov qab los muaj muaj ib lub neej-hloov kev,"Mol hais tias. “Once you’re out there in the blackness of space, looking at this small blue planet with a bright green glow and a tiny layer of atmosphere around it, it looks so vulnerable from the outside. It makes you an ambassador for Earth itself.”
One of the commonalities that becomes apparent when talking to entrepreneurs like these is how they regard their ambitions as inevitabilities.
All of them – and no doubt others in the transportation space – saib tus txheej xwm quo thaum nws los txog rau txoj kev uas peb tau txais los ntawm qhov no mus muaj hnub no li untenable, uas ib yam dab tsi muaj hloov – thiab hais tias jetpacks thiab suborbital hlab ntsha yog deb dua ntawm ib tug pheej hmoo ua thawj koom ruam tshaj dua li ua tsis muaj dab tsi los yog ua me me tweaks uas twb muaj lawm tswv yim.
Mol hais tias lub neej yav tom ntej ntawm kev thauj mus los kuj yuav lub tswv yim thiab designs peb yuav tsis muaj peev xwm txawm xeeb tub ntawm hnub no, vim hais tias cov kev xav tau ntawm tomorrowwill tsum yog li ntawd txawv tshaj plaw.
"Kuv xav hais tias noob neej yog ib txwm sim mus nrhiav nws cov thaj tsam thiab mus deb,"Nws hais. "Kuv xav hais tias nyob rau hauv lub neej yav tom ntej deb heev uas peb yuav tsum tau nyob rau ntau lub ntiaj teb raws li ib hom. Kuv ntseeg tau hais tias, muaj. Tej zaum tsis nyob hauv peb lub neej, tab sis yog. "
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