When plucky teenage time-traveller Marty McFly returned to our screens in 1989 for the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy, he was accelerated decades into the future to the dizzying environs of October 21, 2015.
The date seemed like it was light years away when it was first released, but today is the day McFly and madcap scientist Dr Emmett “Doc” Brown flashed forward in the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine.
It has been nothing short of fascinating to witness which of the sci-fi comedy classic’s predictions have come true. From space-age vehicles to ultra eco-friendly fuels, here is a breakdown of how accurate the film’s futuristic predictions were.Flying Cars
In the film we see Doc enthuse that where they were heading they wouldn’t need roads – one of the more optimistic predictions from the film’s producers. Vertical take-offs and altitude gauges have not become the norm and probably won’t anytime soon – even if it would help to solve the rush hour madness.
If you are hoping to be completing your daily commute in the air soon, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Several manufacturers are trying though. Terrafugia has already built a bizarre street-legal auto-airplane hybrid named the Transition. Several other flying cars are expected to be on sale as early as 2017. Slovakian company Aeromobil are aiming to make air-taxis a common transport service although even they admit that government regulation could prove to be major barriers to the success of their project.Barcode Registration Plates
In the films, the DeLorean time machine is a licensed, registered vehicle with the vanity license plate “OUTATIME”. When Doc returns from 2015, it has a futuristic barcode license plate. It implied that by now we would have moved onto more sophisticated means of tracking and registering our vehicles.
Maybe that prediction got stuck in the time warp because not much has changed. Vanity license plates still prove extremely popular. Personal registration specialists Click4Reg listed the ten most expensive license plates in history with the most expensive being bought for £518,000 in 2014.
Barcode registration plates have made little progress. It’s probably not something high on the agenda of the DVLA either. An article that claimed registration numbers would be replaced with barcodes by Christmas did go viral earlier in the year, although this turned out to be little more than an April Fool’s joke.Cars that run off household waste
The Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor was a nifty device fitted to the DeLorean which converted household garbage directly into energy. The converter provided the 1.21 gigawatts needed to travel through the time-space continuum. It was probably the most efficient waste removal and recycling system ever created.
Unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked out like that but we’re not far off. The biofuel industry is dedicated to the underlying concept and is creating fuel from plant materials and animal waste. Many Brazilian cars run entirely on sugarcane that has been turned into pure ethanol. Bio-energy specialists Fulcrum have also announced plans for a factory that will turn household waste into jet fuels and diesel gasoline, a scheme supported by United Airlines who invested $30 million into the project.
The 2015 depicted in Back to the Future II may have been ahead of its time but many of the ideas explored in the film are still being researched by scientists today. Give it another 26 years and maybe our skies will have been transformed into complex traffic systems with flying cars zooming around underneath biofuel-powered planes. Maybe, but probably not.