18 October 2013

CAPE TOWN – Transport Month, an annual campaign on the news calendar kicks off on the first of October and is meant to catapult a month long awareness into the public consciousness the idea of a safer, more affordable, accessible and reliable transport for the country.

This year at Eyewitness News thought to expand the debate or input into the campaign by looking to the future.

Inspired by the notion that children are our future, we looked to the wisdom of the future generation of South Africans and asked them what they thought future modes of transport would look like.

We randomly canvassed seven, eight, 10 and 11-year-olds at Siyabulela in Langa and Sea Point Primary School in Cape Town, asking them the above question.

The children were asked to draw a picture of their idea of what a future mode of transport would look like and were to provide a short explanation of how it works.

We were excited by the possibility that somewhere in the boundless terrain of a child’s imagination, we could find a seed of an idea to talk about; but mostly we wanted to be inspired by the unadulterated magic of their ideas.

As children born of the internet era; their ideas were not strictly technological as many were rooted in their own practical reality, which was expected of their age.

We saw many, many flying cars. Cars that could turn from an ordinary car into a boat and then into an aeroplane – all at a press of a button. There was a car that spewed out colourful confetti and there was a body bubble that you could travel in. There was a red car that could kill all Zombies in one day.

Many of the children described alternative energy sources to power their cars since petrol was too “expensive.”

There were cars powered by batteries, solar panels and vegetables. Many of the children reckoned cars of the future would be small.

Eyewitness News checked a few of the ideas for viability with Professor Wikus van Niekerk, the director at the centre for renewable and sustainable energy studies at Stellenbosch University.

He explained: “A car powered by vegetables is probably viable depending on how you do it. Sugar beet, you can make ethanol from that and can make petrol from that. Plant material [can be used] to make bio-diesel, so that’s quite feasible. You have to process the vegetables and the outcome of that is bio fuel.”

Van Niekerk backed the idea of cars powered by electricity through the use of rechargeable batteries.
However flying cars got the thumbs down from van Niekerk.

“Flying cars make no sense,” he said.