Very soon, artificial intelligence will help you decide where to vacation, and the hotels of the future will instantly recognize you as you step into the lobby. Far from science fiction, advancements like these are very much grounded in reality. But they’re just part of the picture. Here are just a few of the technological innovations that could alter the way we travel forever:
Revolutionary transportation systems will soon radically alter how we travel. The most imminent arrival being the much anticipated generation of self-driving vehicles. Companies including Mercedes and Google are testing fully autonomous vehicles that drive themselves with zero driver intervention. So, a roadtrip from Los Angeles to New York would involve the “driver” setting the route, then spending the journey working, checking email, sleeping, or simply sitting back and enjoying the ride.
More radical is the development of the “Hyperloop.” This innovative transportation system involves travelers sitting inside a pod that gets propelled through a mounted steel tube at more than 700 mph—faster and more energy efficient than trains and even supersonic aircraft. It’s possible to imagine how a vast network of intercity hyperloops could whisk the travelers of the future between destinations in a matter of minutes.
But the ultimate frontier in travel transportation has to be space travel. Currently, a flight with Virgin Galactic involves leaving the planet’s atmosphere behind, experiencing several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth. But as technology progresses, a week-long vacation aboard an orbiting space station, or a trip to the Moon, are both tantalizing possibilities.
Research and planning tools
In the near future, the best travel recommendations you receive won’t be from a travel agent or a friend, but a machine. At least that’s the thinking behind artificial intelligence recommendation engines.
With the help of IBM’s cognitive computer system, Watson, travel technology startup WayBlazer is personalizing travel bookings with tailored recommendations based on a customer’s personal interests, past choices and context of their trip. Travel companies might one day use AI to predict the type of trips customers want based on social media updates, or online browsing and shopping related to travel.
Travel companies may also harness wearable tech to send consumers customized offers. Using location-based targeting, wearables can tell a company how customers are interacting with their brand. To put it in context, a person might stop in front of a hotel billboard at their departure airport. Based on their onward destination and personal data, that same hotel could then send a tailored last-minute room deal for a property in their chain.
And once we’re on vacation, technology could make our day-to-day travel experiences easier, too. Skype Translator can currently translate conversations in six languages. The travel benefits include eliminating communication barriers with things like asking for directions or ordering room service. Business travelers could also benefit, conversing in different languages during international conferences.
Drones for everything
Today, drones have some fun (if not frivolous) applications for travelers, like delivering champagne to hotel rooms and capturing extreme selfies.
But what about the future?
Drones might be utilized to update tourists on weather conditions or traffic queues to plan their routes. They could even help with safety and security, acting as early warning systems for natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
But it’s tempting to imagine more radical applications. Conceivably, drones could be used by tourism boards to monitor queue times at popular attractions in a city. The aggregated data could then be sent to tourists, perhaps via a form of a city tourist app.
So, a tourist visiting Paris in 2040 might decide to visit the Louvre instead of the Notre Dame after breakfast thanks to real-time data supplied by a drone, before planning a day of sightseeing that helps them avoid the crowds.
Considering the speed at which we have been able to develop new technology in the last few decades, what do you think will revolutionize travel as we move into the middle of the 21st century?