Tagged: Travel

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A greener, quieter age of air travel

EasyJet, an airline best known for flying Brits across Europe[1] to sunny locales, wants you to know it cares about the planet. Two weeks ago, it held an Innovation Day at London’s Gatwick Airport to show it’s using technology to take better care of it…

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Elon Musk’s latest crazy idea? Rocket-based travel. On Earth.

Why it matters to you

If Elon Musk has his way, rocket-based travel will take you between any two major cities in under 40 minutes. All for the price of a regular economy flight.

For most people, revolutionizing the electric car[1], paving the way for colonization of Mars[2], and building a HyperLoop tunnel[3] under Los Angeles would be enough to fill their every waking moment. Elon Musk isn’t most people. Speaking on Friday, September 29, at the International Astronautical Congress[4] (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO outlined his next big goal — to use SpaceX’s interplanetary rocket system to make extremely fast long-distance travel possible on Earth. Should all go to plan, the idea is that you would be able to travel anywhere on the planet in just 40 minutes, for no more than the price of an economy price airline ticket.

In a video showcasing the “point-to-point” concept, passengers are depicted traveling by boat from New York City to a floating launchpad. These floating launchpads could be created near major cities all over the world. They then board the SpaceX reusable BFR (that’s Big Fucking Rocket), which exits the atmosphere, before re-entering and touching down on another launchpad. Proposed routes[5] for the city-to-city rocket system could include New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes, and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes. This would make it, by far, the fastest form of transport in history. At its peak, the rocket would hit speeds of around 18,000 miles per hour — which is enough to leave even the Corcorde’s 1,447 miles-per-hour in the dust.

At present, the technology to do all of this doesn’t exist, although the various SpaceX launches that have taken place in recent years show the ability to vertically land a rocket is getting more and more reliable all the time. (But mistakes can still happen[6].) Still, it remains to be seen just how many people would be willing to save a day’s travel by being transported in this way. Musk has a word for us doubters, though: conservative. “Some of our customers are conservative, and they want to see the BFR fly several times before they’re comfortable launching [on it],” he said during his talk.

There’s no hard-and-fast deadline on when all of this will take place, but Musk is currently aiming for 2024 as the date he hopes to send humans to Mars aboard the BFR.

References

  1. ^ revolutionizing the electric car (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ colonization of Mars (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ building a HyperLoop tunnel (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ International Astronautical Congress (www.iac2017.org)
  5. ^ Proposed routes (www.theverge.com)
  6. ^ mistakes can still happen (www.digitaltrends.com)
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Netflix wants you to chill even at an altitude of 35,000 feet

Why it matters to you

Tired of the same movies in the in-flight entertainment catalog? Netflix may be able to bring you relief.

The in-flight entertainment on your next vacation might be the same entertainment[1] you enjoy on your couch at home. On Monday, September 25, at the 2017 Airline Passengers Experience (APEX) Expo — an event which involves many of the world’s leading airlines — Netflix[2] announced that it would be extending bandwidth-efficient technology originally built for mobile devices to airlines the world over.

It’s not a totally selfless move, of course. In return, Netflix[3] hopes that more air carriers will partner with the service (which is to say, give it money) in order to give passengers low-cost or free Wi-Fi entertainment, likely in the form of a Netflix catalog.

Back in 2015, Netflix announced a deal with Virgin America that brought free, in-flight Wi-Fi to select flights. In the last couple years, the streaming service has also partnered with Aeromexico, Qantas, and Virgin Australia on similar initiatives. But now, it’s hoping to go even bigger.

But wait, you say — doesn’t it require a lot of data, or in this case bandwidth, to stream from Netflix? While the answer has historically been “yes,” part of Netflix’s announcement includes the news that it’s coming closer to having a viable low-bandwidth option for folks who want to stream movies from just about anywhere. In fact, on a mobile device, a DVD-quality stream requires just 250Kbps, which means that it won’t weigh down an airplane’s Wi-Fi network. In fact, Netflix claims that airlines can save up to 75 percent in bandwidth costs by way of a partnership.

For airlines that choose to work with Netflix, passengers will be able to stream movies or television shows from their smartphones or laptops, and watch Netflix at no extra charge. If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can sign up while on your flight for a free 30-day trial, which means that long flights could prove to be valuable customer acquisition channels for Netflix.

Netflix claims that such a partnership this will allow airlines to create a “sustainable model” surrounding low-cost or free in-flight Wi-Fi. Moreover, as Variety[4] reports, the service notes that airlines who choose to work with Netflix could be seen as making an “investment in next-generation Wi-Fi and potentially improving customer satisfaction.”

References

  1. ^ same entertainment (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ Netflix (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ Netflix (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ Variety (variety.com)