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    Profile photo of Josheua

    Talk 01 – Transportation

    To supplement our Fireside Chats, I am excited to introduce CoM Talks. CoM Talks will be our chance to use the forum to discuss topics we might not have spent all of the time we wanted to on the fireside chat. Here you can pose questions, ideas, and keep the discussion alive after the Fireside chat has ended. These topics will be posted the Sunday before the week begins. I’ll provide a primer with some introductory information and then open the floor to the community.

    This weeks topic is a great one – Transportation and Civilian life. I wanted to give us an opportunity to talk about how people move on a planet. How do they get from point A to point B? Why might a nation use low tech rather than high tech options? What sort of tools are available to your citizens?

    The transportation we will be talking about this week is mostly centered around civilians. In fireside chat #15 we spent some time discussing this as part of the larger discussion on civilian life in CoM but – as I said then – transportation is at the heart of any culture you make in CoM. How your people move about planets, space stations, and starships really define their experience in the universe. 

    Transportation on planets can be divided into really two categories – (1) How you move around a planet and (2) How you get off a planet. We’ll start with moving around a planet (or on a planet). In this case, transportation can be both private and public. Modern cities in CoM are going to rely on public transportation. 

    Getting Around a Planet

    Trains are going to be effective as ever at moving large groups of individuals through a huge cityscape. In the case of the Alliance, trains are integral on every world with any major city. These can be trains for both long-distance travel around a planet (where vacuum tube-based systems – like hyperloop – allow for extremely high speeds) or shorter distance travel within a city. Trains can take on many forms as well. They can be traditional (wheels on a rail), magnetic levitation, or even anti-gravity based. 

    Buses will also be a very useful for transportation. Again, these can take all sorts of forms. Wheel based vehicles are great low-tech options. They don’t rely on a lot of power and can make travel in a city easy. With some tech insertion, you can also have those buses that go vertically up walls or cling to ceilings as they travel. Get creative! Buses can also take hover form, traveling through the air and carrying people from point to point. Much like modern time, buses are great supplements to trains or a lower-cost/less infrastructure option to trains.

    Taxis can and should be part of any sort of city infrastructure where personal vehicles are part of your public transit system. These can be automated or driven by individuals (but really, they will probably be automated given how easy this technology could be implemented now and how far in the future we are considering). Much like the trains and buses, this could be classical wheeled vehicles or hover vehicles. 

    Personal Vehicles – At the end of the day, personal vehicles will still be a thing. These types of vehicles will likely have a significant amount of self-driving capability as well as a diverse amount of technologies built in depending on function. Again, hover or wheeled options are available. 

    Hover vs. Wheeled  – One thing I do want to mention is that there will always be – with scifi – the predisposition to make everything hover. Hover vehicles are cool. However, remember that hover technology will always require exponentially more energy output to travel the same distance when compared to wheeled vehicles. Consequently, wheeled vehicles are a safe and useful option. It is not to say that these vehicles can’t have some cool features like spherical wheels that all allow multi-directional travel. Consequently, find a system that makes sense and works well for your nation.

    Aircraft/Spacecraft – As with the modern day, travel through the air will always be a useful way of getting around a planet. While traditional aircraft might not be a thing, the integration of aircraft and spacecraft into this system will be important. A few cool ideas to look at would be some of the ideas SpaceX is proposing with reusable rockets that are used to enter low earth orbit and arrive at a destination in under an hour. These sort high-speed options are great for low-volume transport. They might not be rockets – more likely some sort of hybrid space/airliner – but they will function in a similar fashion when speed is necessary. 

    Getting Off a Planet

    Getting off a planet is another big part of transportation. How can we get to the stars will define a nation’s capability to operate as an industrial and technological powerhouse. 

    Space Elevators are going to be as big a piece of the universe as any other form of planet-to-space travel. In CoM lore, these were some of the earliest ways humanity bridged the gap between space and the planet’s surface. Massive space elevators made Mars and industrial epicenter in Sol and even in modern times, anti-gravity assisted space elevators will carry huge amounts of cargo, starship parts, and people into space to orbiting space stations and waiting cargo ships. 

    Spacecraft are also a huge part of this process. Transporting individuals like modern day airliners, spacecraft frequently serve as a bridge between huge interstellar transports and starliners destined for distant stars. These can take a number of forms, from small personal shuttles to larger spacecraft. 

    So what do you think? What sort of technologies and networks do you imagine your nations using? Do you have different ideas? Questions? 

    Profile photo of Pharthan

    One of the things I feel we don’t address enough is differing atmospheres and gravity on planets. Most of the planets we deal with will be relatively Earthlike, but not all. Different planets may very well have unique forms of travel – cheap personal aircraft could have flapping wings on planets with low gravity. Planets with stronger gravity might use predominantly wheeled vehicles. 

    This can help to make each and every one of your planets very unique and can allow you to add personal flair in your stories and roleplays.

    Terrain will also play a very important role.
    Some planets may have numerous canyons and/or mountains and might use zipline/cablecars frequently. Other planets will use lots of boating; perhaps even submersibles.

    One of the scenes my mind keeps coming back to is the cityscape in the movie Minority Report, where cars are travelling vertically as well as horizontally, and they’re all automated. 

    Profile photo of Josheua

    Those are all fair points that David makes. A lot of what you want to do transportation wise isn’t going to be as limited as some of the other realms of technology we’ve touched on. A few limits to remember though are:

    • No transporters – CoM doesn’t have transporter technology like in Star Trek.
    • No gates/doorways – CoM doesn’t have Stargate style gates that link two points.
    • No Flash Cloning – We don’t have travel where your body is flash cloned at a location and you go about your day.

    While I am sure there are more that will come up when you guys make up ridiculous ideas for transportation ideas, it’s important to realize that the limits aren’t as restrictive and you are encouraged to get creative.

    The idea of self-powered or automated wings – I think – would be more a recreational idea than really a transportation tool. However, the cable cars and such are absolutely ann interesting and plausible idea. 

    I also love the transportation concepts in Minority Report. Its a great basis for how future transportation might work in large, vertical cities without following the hover-car trope. 

    Another thing to consider is how your citizens interact with these transportation techniques. Do you want them to hail cabs with neural links (this is probably going to be limited to the wealth)? Is their a panel that they access? Do they call it via a cell-phone like devices? Also, how does transportation differ for wealthy versus regular citizens if your nation has a wealth gap?

    Profile photo of Hydrofoil

    I love the Hyperloop concept and I think they will become an integral part of human transportation infrastructure in the future. (Also excited that my home city may be the first to get a hyperloop stop in the UK GO ME :D) I feel that in the USC in the urban built-up areas underground hyperloop esque vacuum tubes will will provide the main source of transport for the masses, this network can also be converted pretty quickly into underground bomb shelter network to provide mass safety should a city come under attack from another nation or have some sort of natural disaster befall it.

    On top of this for cross-city/continental transport, I think that depending on the world, of course, Mag-lev trains would be the norm especially for freight, I’m not 100% set on how I would like the majority of my civilian population to move around a planet yet. 

    I’m talking about the Urbanised areas there where a lot of wealth is concentrated. When you start getting out into the fringe colonies of the USC, things become a little more “used” people tend to use what they can get their hands on and what works for their environment, public transport could well be wheel based busses for mass transit with a few maglev rail lines to link the major population centers on that planet and probably the major industrial hubs. 

    As much as I like hover vehicles I don’t foresee them being a huge part of the USC’s transportation network be it private or public. They do exist I think but mainly in the form of atmospheric shuttles and Trans-orbital shuttle craft.

    Profile photo of Josheua

    Yeah. I think that really what would be the best as opposed to hover vehicles is an automated network of very advanced/capable wheeled vehicles. As David referenced, I really like the concepts from Minority report. The use of vertical space for transit makes a lot of sense in removing congestion. It also just look super nifty.

    I agree cargo is going to be done by hover trains. I’ve had some pretty creative thoughts on that. Like train tracks with both overhead and underslung train tracks allowing you to more easily move large amounts of cargo in the same vertical space. Mag-lev makes sense for bulk cargo, but something like hyperloop would still be very useful for rapid cargo transfer. 

    Some other things to consider is above versus below ground. Above ground is very useful on initial colonization efforts (in fact you can expect some automated construction offerings from Renaud here soon) but a lot of things are going to shift below ground as a city develops. Large cities in the Alliance tend to shift public transit and even road transit underground in favor of large open green spaces in their mega-cities. Unity Park – the Alliance’s formal capital district – has massive lakes, park regions with the Trinity Tower rising out of the center. All the public transit and road traffic travels under the park, and even the small craft port is sunken into the ground with hangers slid under the park surface.

    I invite you all to consider this sort of stuff when you are putting your nations together.

    Profile photo of Hydrofoil

    Your talk about stuff being underground actually got me thinking about building housing and industry underground i get that it would be more expensive than building above ground but i feel some interesting cityscaping can be done by utilising below surface space as well be that excavated or natural. So maybe when your thinking about how to cram several hundred million people into a city on your urban worlds i think you need to consider building underground. 

    Profile photo of Josheua

    Well underground might be an interesting place to put people, its more likely a better place to put things that we typically have take up space above ground. Things like storage units, power stations, etc. could be built underground to free up more above ground space for people. That being said, as cities grow dense and vertical, the sensation of being “undeground” might feel very real for those who are surface dwellers. 

    Profile photo of Hydrofoil

    I suppose it does depend on how dense the urbanisation is, I quite like the idea of building down, it seems a rather natural idea to me the idea is t build underground for our first human colonies on Mars so it makes sense that somewhere along the line that became modus opperandi in Human colonisations especially in the early years and maybe even earlier generations of the Human Continuity project. I do agree things like storage and important civic infrastructure would be underground. you’re probably likely to have highly automated movement of goods in this where houses probably using the Underground transport infrastructure already in place for public transport or maybe alongside on separate tubes/rails.

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