Visions of future travel in science fiction usually do not depict ultra-fast movement on a planet. The exception is teleportation in Star Trek. The Minority Report does show Maglev cars that travel at about 100 mph and can transition to vertical movement up buildings.
Twelve to Eighteen-hour flights around the world are the current speed of global travel. If there are connections into smaller cities or rural areas then two or three-day travel times with connections may be required. It can also take one to three-hours for driving or public transit commutes inside large cities.
This should dramatically change by 2030 with more self-driving cars. Self-driving and networked vehicles should eliminate traffic jams. When nearly all rides are made with self-driving cars, self-driving buses, self-driving trucks and robo-taxis then the speed can be safely increased to 150 mph for major highways. The German Autobahn already has driving speeds of 90-110 mph.
SpaceX has the goal of increasing the safety of reusable rockets to enable less than one-hour flight times between major world cities. This could be in use by 2025 for cargo delivery on earth and 2030 for human passengers. If each SpaceX Earthship moved 1000 people per flight and flew 10 times per day, then each one would transport up to 3.5 million people per year. If the cost per flight was only $500 per person, then demand for international world travel could increase to 3.5 billion trips per year in 2030. This would mean about 1000 SpaceX Starships for international flights would be needed.
If shortening travel times were more valuable than energy efficiency, then ground vehicles could increase to 250 mph or 400-600 mph for high-speed rail or maglev. This would allow traveling across China’s planned 200 million person megacity regions in less than an hour and possibly even 30 minutes.
All travel anywhere on Earth would be under one hour. 30 Minutes for international rocket flight and then 30 minutes within cities or to reach more remote areas.
If vacuum tube tunnels or at least very low-pressure tunnels could be created then travel speeds could increase for ground transportation up to 2000 to 20,000 mph. Having many infrastructure connections at this speed could make travel between major cities on the same land-mass in under 20 minutes.
What might be beyond the ultra-fast car, rocket or super vacuum-maglev for on planet travel?
A world with abundant molecular nanotechnology and room temperature superconductors where each person has over 1000 kilograms of nano-fog and other nanotechnology. It could be possible to generate on-demand personal maglev movement. This could eliminate first mile and last-mile delays and get speeds potentially up to 20,000 mph at nearly all points.
Another technology for fast personal mobility would be superconductor or beamed power exosuits. A lighter and more comfortable flight suit or personal mobility drones for picking people up.
This would mean ten minutes to anywhere inside the USA and 30 minutes to anywhere on the earth.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.