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How will we travel in the future? How fast will we be jetting around the world?




The reusable ‘booster stage’ of the space liner separates from the orbiter, in which capsule 50 fellow passengers fit in. Source: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are researching a variety of modes of transport. The Next Generation Train, for instance, is being designed to travel at up to 440 km/h. This is said to be the aerodynamic limit for a train, and the fastest it can go without compromising on safety. When it comes to air travel, we could be flying at ten times the speed of sound in 30 or 40 years’ time. DLR’s vision of this kind of hypersonic transport system is called SpaceLiner – and it would get you from Europe to Australia in just 90 minutes. Scientists are also working on a new kind of “flying wing” that would be able to transport up to 1,000 passengers while consuming 20 percent less fuel than today’s aircraft. At street level, DLR’s ROboMObil, or ROMO, could cause quite a stir. This two-seater electric vehicle draws on planetary rover technology and robotics, and offers maximum manoeuvrability. The ROMO should also be able to provide fully autonomous driving.
These are just a few of the ideas and visions that may shape the way we travel in the future. Which of them will succeed depends partly on what we want and what we actually use. If we want transport that is fast, safe, comfortable, good value and environmentally friendly, then we might well have to say goodbye to one or two of those great ideas.

Susann Beetz from the Ideas 2020-Team answered this question, with assistance from Cordula Tegen of DLR’s Corporate Communications Department.