Ask them about the future, and their faces light up like a children’s cartoon sun and their eyes twinkle as they talk about Martian cities, flying cars, and robot maids. Who hasn’t listened to little ones dreaming of a future like this? Only these aren’t kids. They’re some of the world’s brightest minds.
If some entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and developers get their way, the years ahead are going to be more interesting than any child’s wildest dreams. A Martian colonial fleet and farms that float are high-tech inventions on a grand scale. It begs the question of what smaller, everyday tech is going to be like. Will you find yourself relaxing on a hover-sofa, playing online casino games while the robo-maid does the housework? Interesting, indeed.
Life On Mars
Head of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Tesla, Elon Musk believes there will be life on Mars in a few decades. A million people, living in a city, in fact.
According to reports, his vision for the ambitious project involves a 1000-craft Mars Colonial Fleet. The fleet will ferry 1 million colonists over a period of anywhere between 40 and 100 years. Musk said heating would take care of low Martian temperatures, and that compressing the carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon-rich atmosphere would enable agriculture. The reports hinted that the first flights could take to the skies as early as 2022.
Farms That Float
Barcelona-based architecture company Smart Floating Farms intends to do exactly what the name says. Farm on water.
The company website states that the project is a response to the very real threats posed by climate change, overpopulation, and exhausting what few resources remain. Rather than farming on land, the company plans to develop three-level, 204,386-square metre floating farms for hydroponic cultivation and gardening, and fish farming. It is also planned to include a slaughterhouse, a desalination plant, a packaging facility, a hydroelectric generator, wind turbines, and solar panels. Other than green power being envisioned, the barges will also recycle waste. One example given was that of fish waste being used as crop fertilizer, and water waste from the crops making its way to the fish farm. Provided the farms run as they are expected to, just one would provide as much as 1.7 tons of fish and 8 tons of vegetables in a year. The company has no illusions about the cost of such an undertaking, but is confident each unit would pay for itself within a decade.
Cars That Fly
Whether it be Saturday morning cartoons, scientific speculation, or announcements of breakthroughs in development, flying cars have been in the media for quite some time. What’s more, they are closer to being reality than ever before.
German company Lilium Aviation has received a great deal of support from investors such as Chinese holding company Tencent, which resulted in it unveiling its 2-seat VTOL vehicle in 2017. It also has plans for a 5-seat vehicle.
California-based company Opener announced it plans to launch the BlackFly vehicle. For the price of an SUV, the all-electrical single-seat vehicle with fixed wings offers vertical take-offs and landings, and can travel up to 40km on a single charge, achieving a top speed of 100km/h.
If you are in the market for something a little more Marvel Comics, the Passenger Drone planned by a company of the same name, or the Flying Exosuit by Gravity Industries should do the trick. The touchscreen-operated, human-sized drone is planned to have 16 rotors, and is self-flying. According to reports, the passenger simply needs to draw the flight path on a map. The Exosuit, on the other hand, is a flying jet-suit with 5 engines and a display to show fuel levels. According to the inventor, Richard Browning, training would take a few minutes, and previous superhero experience is not required.
The House-Cleaning Robot
Move over, RoboCop. Robot Maid is (almost) here. San Francisco-based company Aeolus gave its yet-to-be-named robot its first public appearance at Las Vegas’ annual consumer electronics expo recently.
According to reports, the robot uses AI, an information-sharing network, and Amazon’s electronic personal assistant, Alexa, to help tidy, move furniture, mop, fetch drinks, distinguish between people’s faces as well as items that look similar, and remember where various items belong.
We’ve got 3D-printed models, medical equipment, and houses. Why not 3D-printed food? Oh, wait.
3D Systems’ ChefJet is a printer capable of crystalizing fine sugar into various shapes, while Natural Foods’ Choc Edge uses chocolate in syringes to create eye-catching patterns. Barilla’s pasta printer uses semolina flour and water to print noodles. And then there is the Foodini. Once ingredients have been placed into different capsules, the 3D printer can prepare dishes such as brownies, stuffed pasta, pizza, and quiche. Columbia University mechanical engineering professor Hod Lipson has also created a prototype machine advanced enough to make basic pastries as well as health bars. Now that should get your mouth watering!
If even some of these future predictions are true, we can’t wait to see just how they change the world we live in. Can you?