I remember watching The Jetsons back when I was a kid – at the time, the technological world the show had built seemed highly fantastical and unrealistic. Just a couple of decades later, though, a lot of it has actually become not just realistic, but real. Some of the amazing contraptions the Jetson family used on a daily basis are now in our homes, and others don’t seem to be far behind. We don’t think twice about our flatscreen TVs, and Rosie the Robot’s design actually looks quite clunky and out-of-date compared to our current robots – although, sadly, none of them have her housecleaning skills yet.
Even the most impossible-seeming gadgets from the show may be on the horizon. We don’t have instant food machines that can produce flying pizzas out of thin air, but we do have 3D food printers! It’s not hard to envision any of it anymore – and the folks at Arconic have not only envisioned it all, but come up with legitimate concepts for making it a reality.
Arconic was formed last year, splitting off from manufacturing company Alcoa to focus on advanced manufacturing technologies, particularly metal additive manufacturing. Their team of engineers recently joined forces with filmmaker Justin Lin, producer of Star Trek: Beyond and other successful films, as well as several expert futurists, to design their vision for the year 2062, in which The Jetsons takes place.
Not surprisingly, 3D printing features prominently in several of Arconic’s designs. The aircraft of the future are imagined by Arconic as aerodynamic, nature-inspired designs with structural components made from multiple 3D printed metals, and the cars of 2062 actually look similar to Divergent 3D’s Blade supercar – complete with a 3D printed chassis.
Then there are the buildings of the future. The Jetsons’ home, if you recall, was in a domelike structure atop a thin tower that stretched into the sky. Arconic’s version is fancier-looking – a twisting, glittering skyscraper that rises three miles high, well above the clouds.
Their impossible-looking structure, also inspired by nature, could only be realized with 3D printing.
“Once we’re actually able to 3D print a wall, we no longer have the need for flat walls. Every wall can be an artistic centerpiece. We’re going to have lots of freeform structures that are unlike anything that we have today,” said Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist and Founder of the DaVinci Institute.
The team also envisions self-sustaining, energy-efficient buildings that can actually clean themselves and the air around them, which sounds far-fetched, but Arconic already has the technology to do it. The company’s EcoClean surface treatment is a titanium dioxide coating that disperses smog and cleans itself with no more than a bit of rain and sunlight. In fact, each of their imagined structures and vehicles of the future are based in technology and materials that already exist, and that Arconic has already developed.
Even space exploration in 2062 is pretty feasible. The Arconic team imagines a rover with airless 3D printed tires created from strong, lightweight metals like aluminum or aluminum-lithium, as well as 3D printed solar cells that would both generate electricity and carry loads. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Finally, there are the flying cars, which Arconic proposes will just be a variation on today’s drones. Those little pods that people in the Jetsons’ world zoom around in could simply be drones modified to carry people.
2062, as imagined by Arconic, is a world that I would like to see, and the next several decades could easily look quite a bit like the concepts they’ve come up with. In fact, we may be seeing a lot of what their team has envisioned well before 2062. You can get a closer look at their ideas here.
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