The Official and Ceremonial Vehicles of World Leaders
Transporting world leaders from A-to-B is a complex endeavor, usually accomplished using motorcades, escorts, roadblocks, and all sorts of bullet and bombproof vehicles. Incorporating that level of technological sophistication into a stylish vehicle worthy of transporting and head of state is no easy task.
Today’s graphic looks at official state vehicles, from the unparalleled Cadillac One that transports President Trump, to the understated ’87 Volkswagen Beetle driven by former Uruguayan president, Josè Mujica.
The Official Official Vehicle
According to data from TitleMax, the overwhelming favorite car brand for world leaders is Mercedes–Benz, particularly the S-Class.
Many countries use luxury brands such as Mercedes–Benz and BMW to transport their heads of state, though it’s also a popular move select domestic brands for such an important and highly symbolic task. The United States, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Sweden are all examples of countries that chose vehicles made by domestic brands.
The United States spares little expense in keeping the president safe, and President Trump’s Cadillac One, nicknamed “The Beast“, is no exception.
As one would expect, the vehicle is heavily armored, with doors that weigh as much as the ones on a Boeing 757. There are also some unique features packed into the vehicle, such as tear gas launchers, and pints of blood that match the president’s blood type.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rides in a BMW 7 Series that boasts some impressive safety features, including on-board oxygen supply and toxic gas sensors.
Old School Cool
While many nations fleets consist of modern luxury vehicles, some heads of state opt for vintage rides.
The former King of Tonga, George Tupou V, preferred traveling in vintage cars, such as a 1949 Humber Pullman and his customized London taxi.
An English taxi is extremely easy to get in and out of wearing a sword, a spiked helmet or spurs.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom IV is, in some ways, the quintessential vehicle for pomp and circumstance. Only 18 of the vehicles were made between 1950 and 1956, and all were purchased by royal families and heads of state. Three of these historical vehicles are still in use by the Spanish head of state for ceremonial occasions.
During special events, Chilean leaders cruise in a 1966 Ford Galaxie. The car, which has been in use for decades, was a gift from the Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, occasionally ditches his Mercedes–Benz S-Class to ride his bike to meetings. That may seem unusual in some parts of the world, but not in the Netherlands where nearly a quarter of the country’s population rides a bicycle on any given day.
Ranked: The Autonomous Vehicle Readiness of 20 Countries
This interactive visual shows the countries best prepared for the shift to autonomous vehicles, as well as the associated societal and economic impacts.
For the past decade, manufacturers and governments all over the world have been preparing for the adoption of self-driving cars—with the promise of transformative economic development.
As autonomous vehicles become more of a looming certainty, what will be the wider impacts of this monumental transition?
Which Countries are Ready?
Today’s interactive visual from Aquinov Mathappan ranks countries on their preparedness to adopt self-driving cars, while also exploring the range of challenges they will face in achieving complete automation.
The Five Levels of Automation
The graphic above uses the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, which details the five levels of automation. Level 0 vehicles place the responsibility for all menial tasks with the driver, including steering, braking, and acceleration. In contrast, level 5 vehicles demand nothing of the driver and can operate entirely without their presence.
Today, most cars sit between levels 1 and 3, typically with few or limited automated functions. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as certain Tesla models and Google’s Waymo. Both feature a full range of self-driving capabilities—enabling the car to steer, accelerate and brake on behalf of the driver.
The Journey to Personal Driving Freedom
There are three main challenges that come with achieving a fully-automated level 5 status:
- Data Storage
Effectively storing data and translating it into actionable insights is difficult when 4TB of raw data is generated every day—the equivalent of the data generated by 3,000 internet users in 24 hours.
- Data Transportation
Autonomous vehicles need to communicate with each other and transport data with the use of consistently high-speed internet, highlighting the need for large-scale adoption of 5G.
- Verifying Deep Neural Networks
The safety of these vehicles will be dictated by their ability to distinguish between a vehicle and a person, but they currently rely on algorithms which are not yet fully understood.
Which Countries are Leading the Charge?
The 20 countries were selected for the report based on economic size, and their automation progress was ranked using four key metrics: technology and innovation, infrastructure, policy and legislation, and consumer acceptance.
The United States leads the way on technology and innovation, with 163 company headquarters, and more than 50% of cities currently preparing their streets for self-driving vehicles. The Netherlands and Singapore rank in the top three for infrastructure, legislation, and consumer acceptance. Singapore is currently testing a fleet of autonomous buses created by Volvo, which will join the existing public transit fleet in 2022.
India, Mexico, and Russia lag behind on all fronts—despite enthusiasm for self-driving cars, these countries require legislative changes and improvements in the existing quality of roads. Mexico also lacks industrial activity and clear regulations around autonomous vehicles, but close proximity to the U.S. has already garnered interest from companies like Intel for manufacturing autonomous vehicles south of the border.
How Autonomous Vehicles Impact the Economy
Once successfully adopted, autonomous vehicles will save the U.S. economy $1.3 trillion per year, which will come from a variety of sources including:
- $563 billion: Reduction in accidents
- $422 billion: Productivity gains
- $158 billion: Decline in fuel costs
- $138 billion: Fuel savings from congestion avoidance
- $11 billion: Improved traffic flow and reduction of energy use
Transportation will be safer, potentially reducing the number of accidents over time. Insurance companies are already rolling out usage-based insurance policies (UBIs), which charge customers based on how many miles they drive and how safe their driving habits are.
Long distance traveling in autonomous vehicles provides a painless alternative to train and air travel. The vehicles are designed for comfort, making it possible to sleep overnight easily—which could also impact the hotel industry significantly.
- Real Estate
An increase in effortless travel could lead to increased urban sprawl, as people prioritize the convenience of proximity to city centers less and less.
With the adoption of autonomous vehicles projected to reduce private car ownership in the U.S. to 43% by 2030, it’s disrupting many other industries in the process.
The Evolution of Hydrogen: From the Big Bang to Fuel Cells
Hydrogen and fuel cell technology harnesses the power of the universe to bring clean energy on Earth. Here is its potential.
It all started with a bang…the big bang!
The explosive power of hydrogen fueled a chain reaction that led to the world we have today.
Now this power is being deployed on Earth to supply the energy needs of tomorrow.
Visualizing the Power of Hydrogen
Today’s infographic comes to us from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, and it outlines how hydrogen and fuel cell technology is harnessing the power of the universe to potentially fuel an energy revolution.
What is Hydrogen, and How’s it Used?
With one proton and one electron, hydrogen sits at the very beginning of the periodic table.
Despite hydrogen being the most common molecule in the universe, it is rarely found in its elemental state here on Earth. In fact, almost all hydrogen on the planet is bonded to other elements and can only be released via chemical processes such as steam reforming or electrolysis.
There are five ways hydrogen is being used today:
- Building heat and power
- Energy storage and power generation
- Industry energy
- Industry feedstock
However, what really unleashes the power of hydrogen is fuel cell technology. A fuel cell converts the chemical power of hydrogen into electrical power.
Hydrogen Unleashed: The Fuel Cell
In the early 1960’s, NASA first deployed fuel cells to power the electrical components of the Gemini and Apollo space capsules. Since then, this technology has been deployed in everything from the vehicle you drive, the train you take, and how your favorite products are delivered to your doorstep.
Nations around the world are committing to build hydrogen fueling stations to meet the growth in adoption of fuel cell technology for transportation.
Hydrogen: A Green Energy Solution
Hydrogen fuel and fuel cell technology delivers green solutions in seven ways.
- Decarbonizing industrial energy use
- Acting as a buffer to increase energy system resilience
- Enabling large-scale renewable energy integration and power generation
- Decarbonizing transportation
- Decarbonizing building heat and power
- Distribution energy across sectors and regions
- Providing clean feedstock for industry
According to a recent report by McKinsey, hydrogen and fuel cell technology has the potential to remove six gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and employ more than 30 million people by 2050, all while creating a $2.5-trillion market.
This is technology that can be deployed today, with the potential to transform how we live and power our economies in a sustainable way.
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