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Flying cars and jetpacks

The potential of GPS wasn?t limited to just cars. There were visions of them being implanted in everything ? including pets and children ? to help keep track of their whereabouts.

The engineering organisation asked Australians to suggest things they’d like to see invented, with the prospect that the winning idea will be ‘made so’.  Close to 7000 people have sent in suggestions – of which nearly 500 were related to cars and transport – and one will be selected to be built in the near future.

And there were some novel viewpoints about how the task of getting from A to B could be improved.  A few people are hanging on for showrooms to fill with flying cars, personal jetpacks and even teleporters, but only one contributor suggested building a roller coaster across the CBD to make travel “fun and fast”.

And some saw the potential of versatile vehicles doing dual duty, with cars that “can be amphibian to short cut bridge bottleneck during traffic jams and go fishing during weekends”.

Another wanted to increase the amount of passengers you could transport. “With kids and friends and relatives you never have enough seats to all go in the one car, so what I want is a people trailer attachment.”  In a similar vein, another wants to “place myself (or small items) on a hoverboard and use that to move around”.

Others came up with lateral approaches to common problems, such as an automatic car cover, cars that spray a ‘calm down’ gas into the face of road raging drivers, and – unsurprisingly – a car that can drive you home if you’re over the legal alcohol limit.

A large number of the entries are hoping for systems to take control of cars as a way to prevent speeding and fatalities, with suggestions for external systems to slow and stop cars, sensors on the cars to read signs, or GPS systems to be linked into the speed limits.

“Make it so the GPS is wired into the car so you can just chose a route so it will drive, stop at road lights and do the speed limit to stop fatalities,” asked one.

The potential of GPS wasn’t limited to just cars. There were visions of them being implanted in everything – including pets and children –  to help keep track of their whereabouts.  Several entrants would like to see a GPS locator in the car keyfob, so they can always be directed to where they parked.

And there were many solutions requested for other parking woes: automatic devices that find an empty space, a system of ‘parking boxes’ that are stacked by cranes, and for car wheels to rotate sideways like those of the Nissan Pivo, allowing them to roll sideways in and out of tight spaces.

Alternative energy sources were also a popular subject, with many feeling road surfaces should be used to generate power, both for cars and to feed back into the grid.  Various suggestions for how this could be done included embedding photovoltaic cells, compressed air pads or “solar cells running under the road”.

Others suggested harvesting energy from road friction, the movement of air over the car body, solar cell paint, engine heat and wind turbines attached to the roof and sides.

And at the other end of the power process, there were also ideas to prevent pollution – including car bodies covered in grass to absorb it, an emission meter that shuts cars down if they emit too much, and that all cars have stop-start systems that shut off the engine at idle.  Many also wanted to see traffic flowing better, with suggestions for traffic lights to be able to judge and change timing to minimise congestion.

And improved public transport was a strong focus, with entries ranging from systems of shared cars, discounts on power bills for public transport users, and free public trans