Time tripping

Tomorrow is Monday, April 14, 2053, and I’m finally leaving on vacation. Unlike travelers in 2016, I’m not worried about hotel reservations, trains zip along at 600 miles an hour, aircraft offer panoramic views, and taxis are driver-free. This is my personal log from a journey through the future.

Text: RENATA AHUMADA @renataahumada  |  illustrations : Patricio Otniel
       

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Self-driving Taxis

Day One, 9:12 a.m. Just a few hours to go before my flight departs from Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport. I’m still in my apartment nearly 10,000 miles away from New York, but I can already imagine my first days in the Big Apple, walking down Fifth Avenue, visiting iconic buildings, and catching a hologram-packed Broadway show.

It’s nearly time for my departure, so I call a cab. The service is automated: there’s no driver. Companies like Google and Uber first conceived of the idea in 2016, but it’s now a reality. In fact, cars with drivers are in the minority. I receive notification that the taxi’s outside. I climb in, get comfortable, and the vehicle – electric, of course, no gas required – sets out for the airport. All I have to do is tune in some background music and watch some of my favorite shows on the vehicle’s screens.

 

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Virtual Passport

I arrive at the airport right on time to board my flight. Unlike travel protocols of yesterday, no one uses a paper passport. We carry them loaded on our smartphones as a universal code.
An Austrian company thought of this futuristic passport in 2016, developing “My Identity App,” a piece of software that requires two devices: one for the user who is checking IDs and the other for the individual proving their identity.
Today, there’s no need for human interaction. I simply show the code on my phone to the check-in screen, and a facial recognition system makes the final confirmation.
Waiting time is reduced as much as possible. Everything moves fluidly and efficiently, and airports offer  plenty of entertainment for passengers in transit, including shops, sports, swimming pools and other relaxing features.

 

Crystal Airplanes

Today, I´m flying on a Smarter Skies Airbus, a model conceived in 2011. My seat is 1A. which offers the best panoramic view of the journey. Now cabins are transparent and the view is nothing short of astonishing, with the ocean beneath your feet and the night stars above your head. The entertainment appears on holographic screens directly in front of my seat.
After we reach cruising altitude, I get up to check out the different lounge areas in the aircraft of the future. There are several options: some passengers play on their tablets or phones at the bar (WiFi is now available aboard all flights), while others enjoy a game of golf on an unusual miniature course inside the fuselage.
We begin our descent to JFK Airport in New York. It’s a pity to have to say farewell to this aircraft of the future.

 

Retinal Key

When I arrive at my hotel, a humanoid robot welcomes me. I look around the lobby and see a mix of human and metallic employees. Similar scenes were just starting in 2015, when the hotel Henna-na in Japan was the first to use android workers.

But Hotel environments of today are loaded with high-tech elements. Even keys are a thing of the past: now guests access their rooms by means of retinal scanners.

And the future is committed to healthy living and nutrition. Most hotel rooms feature amenities like exercise stations with holographic personal trainers that offer encouragement and advice as you follow your routine.

 

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Trains That Fly

Day Three, 8:32 a.m. Everything is ready for my first trip aboard the Hyperloop, a supersonic train that rivals the speed of the airplanes flying above. Who came up with the idea? In 2013, U.S. multimillionaire Elon Musk announced that he was working on a mode of transportation inspired by high-speed trains. The idea seemed almost unbelievable at the time, but by 2018, the first test models were in development. A train that could travel at speeds topping 600 miles an hour yet running solely on energy generated by solar panels was in the making.

A few decades later, and I can travel from NYC’s Grand Central Station to Union Station in Los Angeles (nearly 2,500 miles away) in about three and a half hours.

Al infinito y más allá

Day Seven, 10:33 a.m. Before returning to Sydney, I want to give space tourism a try. Far from estimates made back in 2016, today it’s far less pricey and much more popular. To give you an idea: the experience used to cost about US$200,000, but now tickets are far more reasonable. Several companies offer this now-popular service, and space travel is not just for a few wealthy eccentrics.

I buy a ticket for the Voyager, a small, eight-passenger ship that reaches an altitude of more than 60 miles, just at the limit between the atmosphere and space. The experience lasts only a few minutes, but it’s enough to enjoy one of the most spectacular views imaginable. And since I want to share the experience with friends and family, I send some selfies.

And that’s my journey through the future. in

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