For the upcoming 2015 legislative session, the Texas Department of Transportation will be asking state lawmakers for $50 million over a two-year period to fund research into futuristic methods of transportation; that includes a study on the use of delivery drones and "hyperloops."
TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton said Texas can no longer keep building the same type transportation systems the agency has built over the last 100 years.
“Texas’ population is predicted to double by the year 2050, (so) we’re not going to be able to build enough new highways and bridges to accommodate all the traffic that might come," Barton said. "And we think that traffic pattern/behavior will likely change anyway, so we want to engage in some multi-faceted research.”
In the agency’s presentation at this month’s Texas Transportation Commission meeting, Barton said they looked at connected vehicles, delivery drones, like the system being proposed by Amazon, high-speed rail and the hyperloop, a transportation system proposed by Elon Musk, the creator of PayPal, Tesla electric cars and the commercial space program SpaceX.
“And it’s (the hyperloop) basically a vacuum-tube type of system," Barton said. "If you can imagine it’s a large modular system moving freight or people.”
Texas is already moving forward with a high-speed bullet train that will run between Dallas and Houston that is being funded by a private company, Texas Central Railway.
For those critical of the agency spending on this type of research when TxDOT is currently running about $4 billion short per year to just maintain current congestion levels, Barton emphasized that research is only about 1% of their annual budget.