Soon airplanes may seem as archaic as the monorail, once we all start traveling through these vacuum tubes! According to the BBC, "vactrain technology" could have us traveling from New York City to London via a series of tunnels that have had all of the air sucked out of them (sort of like on The Jetsons or Futurama). The mode of transportation would be incredibly fast, hitting speeds up to 4,000 mph, making the journey from NYC to London just one hour long.
How far away is this futuristic technology? Some say we can expect it within a decade. The BBC says "there are teams in the US, China and elsewhere working on the concept, with some predicting their arrival within 10 years," which in the end would be over a century apart from when engineer Robert Goddard first designed prototypes. A company called ET3 is working on the new travel mode, and describes it as such:
Car sized passenger capsules travel in 1.5m (5′) diameter tubes on frictionless maglev. Air is permanently removed from the two-way tubes that are built along a travel route. Airlocks at stations allow transfer of capsules without admitting air. Linear electric motors accelerate the capsules, which then coast through the vacuum for the remainder of the trip using no additional power. Most of the energy is regenerated as the capsules slow down. ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains.
The technology has been successful in laboratory settings, but who knows what will happen in the real world: