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Surprising Science

Our High-Speed Future

Today’s installment of our series “The Future in Motion” features Joseph Sussman, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, and Douglas Malewicki, Aerospace engineer and inventor of the SkyTran. 

The SkyTran is Personal Rapid Transit system that uses magnetic levitation tracks to achieve the equivalent of over 200 miles per gallon fuel economy at 100 miles per hour or faster. The way Malewicki envisions it, we’ll be moving at the speed of Internet on our way to work.

Sussman talks about a future system in which we don’t rely as heavily on cars. How would we control for such behavioral change? Dynamic prices as a function of time of day, location,  vehicle type, to give incentives to drivers to make different kinds of decisions. “The notion here is that one can perhaps have a a lesser need of building more infrastructure that is built for peak hour capacity by enticing people to drive at some time outside the peak hour,” says Sussman.

As part of this series, every Wednesday until April 7, we will release new interviews with people who are changing the way we get from here to there, from entrepreneurs to policy makers. So far, we’ve featured interviews with Richard Schaden, Aeronautical engineer and founder of Beyond The Edge; Mitchell Joachim, founder of Terreform ONE; Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogata; Felix Kramer, founder of the non-profit, California Cars Initiative; famous aerospace engineer Burt Rutan; director of MIT Media Lab’s Smart Cities Group Bill Mitchell; PhD student at MIT Media Lab, Ryan Chin; Director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design, Geoff Wardle; and Caltech chemistry professor Nate Lewis. The schedule for the final week is as follows:

· April 7: Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which promotes the formation of space tourism and other major milestones and the co-Founder of Space Adventures. 

· April 7: Michael Schrage– Research fellow with the Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business and a visiting fellow at Imperial College’s London ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ program.


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