Editor’s note 11/17/17: At press time of our December 2017 issue, there was only one hyperloop system under consideration by CDOT. This article has been updated to include a second. 

When The Jetsons debuted in 1962, the tablets, flying cars, and robot housekeeper that starred alongside the futuristic family were just figments of imagination. Fifty-five years later—as ABC works on a live-action adaptation of the beloved series—similar technologies actually exist. And unsurprisingly, given Colorado’s status as a startup hub, local companies are at the heart of the advancements.

Real RoboCops

In 2016, Lakewood-based Gamma2 Robotics was one of the first American companies to launch a security robot. Ramsee—equipped with laser radar and toxic gas sensors, among other things—is designed to handle the graveyard shifts security guards and law enforcement officers aren’t thrilled about working. Plus, at $65,000, Ramsee is a fraction of the cost of personnel and cameras. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go full Terminator on us.

New Set Of Wheels

Straight out of a science fiction series (remember the flying motorcycles in Battlestar Galactica?), the Apollo JetBike from Denver’s Apollo Flight Labs can reach a speed of 100 mph and a height of 10,000 feet—and, yes, staffers are developing a parachute system in case of crash landings. Just think: no more traffic jams or flat tires. One caveat (besides the fact that the bike costs an eyebrow-raising $279,000) involves the lack of regulations for flying vehicles; you may want to consult the Federal Aviation Administration before taking off over downtown.

Raising The (Technological) Bar

Centennial State startup Alpine Media Technology is putting an end to awkward chairlift conversations, starting at Winter Park Resort, where select seats on the Super Gauge Express now boast digital screens on their restraint bars. The multipanel setup displays maps of runs, weather forecasts, lift closures, and scheduled après-ski events—and, unsurprisingly, ads (at least they’re silent). Next year, Alpine plans to install 4,000 to 6,000 of these displays at 10 different resorts nationwide.

Alpine Media Technology
The new screens on a Winter Park chairlift. Photo courtesy of Alpine Media Technology.
The Future Is Coming

If you haven’t had your fill of space-age inventions, you’re in luck: More are on their way to the Centennial State.

The Hyperloop
The I-70 traffic snarl could finally end (or at least improve) in 2021 if the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) approves the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop. Pods would carry passengers through vacuum-sealed tubes at average speeds of more than 500 mph, connecting Denver with Pueblo, Vail, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. On November 14, CDOT announced a partnership with Arrivo, another hyperloop transportation company that plans to build a system in the metro Denver area, transporting passengers at speeds between 200 and 300 mph. Arrivo plans to build a test track adjacent to E-470 in 2018.

Lockheed Martin has some new age ideas for a manufacturing facility under construction at its Waterton Canyon campus in Littleton. In the past, technicians used foam, blueprints, and computers to model satellites, but the 266,000-square-foot center, scheduled to open in 2020, will feature both 3-D printing and virtual reality tools—a major upgrade that will improve satellite design.

Invisible TV Screens
Panasonic is working on multimedia displays that become transparent when they’re not being used—so the only things you’ll see are the dust bunnies. Glimpse the screens at Peña Station Next, a mixed-use complex serving as a test lab for emergent technologies, in the next few years.