Top ten travel innovations of the century

Over the past century technology has really taken off; helicopters, aeroplanes, rockets - can you imagine living in a world without them? And more importantly, can you imagine trying to traverse the globe without these technological advancements? Have a look at this gallery to see some of the top innovations that have revolutionized the ways we explore the world.

Ten of the best: Travel innovations
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Top ten travel innovations of the century

In 1903 the Wright brothers invented the first gas-motored and manned airplane. Fast forward almost half a decade to 1952 and the first ever jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, was introduced. The Boeing 707, the first widely successful commercial jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years from 1958 to 2010.

While the first form of automobile can be dated back to 1769, it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that cars became a practical and affordable form of transport. Upon the arrival of Ford's Model T in 1908, the world waved goodbye to the horse and carriage and headed full-speed toward a new, motor-filled era.

The very first piloted helicopter was invented in 1907 by Paul Cornu. Since then, helicopters have been used for travel, construction, firefighting, search and rescue, and military purposes. It's also become the chosen form of transport at a number of high-profile sporting events, in particular Polo.

Englishman Percy Shaw invented cat eyes, otherwise known as road reflectors, back in 1934. Shaw is said to have been inspired after he caught sight of his car headlights being reflected in a cat's eyes on a dark and foggy night. By now the retroreflective safety device is used globally.

The hovercraft, a craft capable of travelling over land, water, mud and ice, was invented by Christopher Cockerell in 1956. Also known as ACVs (air-cushion vehicles), hovercrafts operate above 20 knots and typically hover at heights between 200-600mm. They're now used globally as specialised transport for disaster relief, coastguard and military purposes.

The first Automated Teller Machine was installed in 1958 in the Kingsdale Shopping Centre in Ohio. By now it's estimated that there are over 2.2million ATM machines worldwide. ATMs also convert currencies, meaning travellers are often able to withdraw money at the best possible exchange rate. 

Cameras have been on the market since 1839, but it wasn't until 1990 that digital cameras became commercially available. This development would forever change the method, speed and rate at which we capture the planet.

First created in 2004, this hydrogen-run motorcycle may look modest, but it can run up to four hours and reach a top speed of 50 mph. Currently being developed by British company Intelligent Energy, the ENV (Emission Neutral Vehicle) is a protoype that will sell for approximately £3700.

Hardback maps seem somewhat antiquated ever since the arrival of GPS Sat Navs at the beginning of the noughties. Gone are the days of arguing with the map reader in the passenger seat - nowadays we're shouting at TomTom instead.

Alaska Airlines was the first to offer online check-in in 1999, and since then a growing number of airlines have introduced the system. In the mid-late 2000s, checking-in was made available using a mobile phone. Well it saves a lot of time queueing, or at least that's the theory...

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