WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
The future of aviation will be electric, and involve hypersonic aircraft and rockets. But there’ll be room for more conventional aircraft too and they’ll be able to take advantage of new technologies to create amazing new experiences.
A while ago I showed off McLaren’s 2050 shape-shifting concept F1 race car, and now Airbus engineers have outlined their vision of what passengers could expect from air travel circa 2030 to 2050, and it sounds like a lot more fun than today’s cattle class experience with their latest plane design even featuring an in flight golf course – albeit a virtual one – and a pop up bar.
As you can see from the videos below the Airbus Concept Cabin focuses on “high levels of customisation” tailored to suit individual needs including auto-morphing seats and personalised entertainment. Passengers’ body heat would also be harvested via the use of smart materials, like these piezoelectric fabrics I wrote about recently, that integrate the electrical system and do away with the need for conventional wires and power sources – in short you literally are the battery! It’s almost like Airbus was inspired by the Matrix, but moving on …
The Concept Cabin is an extension of the company’s future plane design first canvassed last year. The transparent plane design would be lightweight, bird-bone-like structure, covered by bionic skin membranes, all of which would be designed by Creative Machines and then 3D printed.
Once on board a passenger would simply touch the wall to be identified by the plane’s on board Artificial Intelligence (AI) “neural network” which would then track you and enable the auto-morphing seats, personalized digital access, and automatic responses to personal needs.
Instead of traditional cabin classes, Airbus sees the aircraft interior as being divided into a number of zones. The “Vitalizing Zone” would cater for relaxation and well-being with massage and acupressure-enabled seats, antioxidant enriched air, mood lighting and a panoramic view of the sky. There would also be a “Smart Tech Zone” and an “Interactive Zone” which would imitate any possible social scene, meaning passengers could arrange a virtual business meeting, play a game of virtual golf, go virtual shopping, or read a bedtime story for their kids back at home.
The cabin would also be 100 percent recyclable and feature self-cleaning materials made from plant fibers.
“Our research shows that passengers of 2050 will expect a seamless travel experience while also caring for the environment,” says Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering – which all sounds great and nothing like the demands that people have of air travel today obviously … ahem.
The company says some of the Concept Cabin technologies are already in the development phase and the ideas presented in the concept will influence future designs so it’ll be exciting to see some of these come through in their future aircraft.