UAE Mars Colony Makes All Other Plans Look Obsolete
Image credit: YouTube
In the ongoing race to colonize Mars, no country is more eager to make its mark on the Red Planet than the United Arab Emirates.
It makes a fair amount of sense—no other country has both the disposable income to be able to throw at a long-term Martian colonization mission and an existing understanding of what it takes to build a technologically advanced, atmospherically controlled super city in the middle of a desert wasteland. As much as Elon Musk might win on enthusiasm, the UAE is uniquely prepared with both the resources and the experience necessary to make a one-way Mars trip actually go off without a hitch.
As the country works to build a prototype city within the desert to test the feasibility to sending colonists to live on the Red Planet, we're able to get a glimpse at what this city might be like thanks to the joys of virtual reality.
A new VR simulation, available on YouTube as a 360 video, shows off just what this future colony might look like.
Released by the UAE's World Government Summit, the video provides viewers with a tour of the City of Wisdom, as part of the Mars 2117 project that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched to get humans settled on Mars by this time next century.
Obviously, a lot of specifics are yet to fall into place for this hundred-year project, but the VR experience is optimistic.
Viewers get to enjoy a ride on the City of Wisdom's hyperloop mass transit system, and plenty of flying cars can be seen buzzing around under the city's glass dome.
Neither of these technologies is particularly ambitious, considering that this city isn't expected to be ready for another hundred years. If anything, anyone watching this video from the year 2117 will probably think it's hilariously naive that we think such technology, which is emerging now, will still be actively in use so far into our future.
Presumably, by that point, our crude VR renderings of the future will also seem quaint and simplistic. While VR technology is improving by leaps and bounds, it is, admittedly, not quite there yet.
This video is smart in placing viewers in a seated hyperloop ride, as this helps to reduce motion sickness from traveling around within a virtual world, but the use of YouTube as a platform means that this video is designed for Google Cardboard, and isn't as advanced as, say, the BBC's recently released spacewalking simulation that's designed for the more robust HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headgear.
Not that these VR platforms are proving much more successful in the long run.
2017 was supposed to be the year that VR truly caught on after serious gaming VR headsets debuted last year, and thus far, it seems that for some reason gamers aren't interested in expensive virtual experiences that just make people dizzy and sick. VR with a physical presence seems to be doing a bit better, even lining up a Disneyland Star Wars experience, but it's clear that our virtual reality technology isn't quite there yet.
Presumably, by the time the UAE's City of Wisdom is finally established on Mars, people will be able to use a far more immersive version of VR that doesn't come with the nauseating side effects of modern technology.
This, of course, raises the question of whether the City of Wisdom itself will be obsolete by 2117. If we've found a way to use immersive VR to inhabit distant robotic avatars, we might not actually require a lot of the modern conveniences that this VR video shows off as selling points.
It's worth assuming that whatever a future Martian colony may look like, we're probably not going to be able to make an accurate guess at this point.
For now, all we can do is hope that there'll be a decent senior citizen discount for anyone who wants to visit a Mars settlement once they're up and running, as by that point, we'll all be pretty ancient ourselves.