Driverless vehicles? Hover-cars? Hatchbacks capable of independent thought? Not so outlandish as it might seem. With car technology accelerating at an astonishing rate thanks to the innovative might of the likes of Google and Apple, we’ve picked out some of the headline tech you can expect to see in cars in the next few years.
It doesn’t have to expensive either. A quick look through listings at a dealer such as Jennings Motor Group reveals that the electronic display of a Honda Civic isn’t so far removed from the almost holographic dashboards we mention below.
Here are five pointers to the future.
1 – Self-driving cars
Google has already rolled over more than 200,000 miles of road during the testing of its self-driving cars. Yet it may be at least five years before we see fully autonomous cars on the roads that require little or no human supervision. Google’s cars have ‘learnt’ road layouts by driving over them multiple times – but they’ll be more suited to quieter road networks to begin with, where there are fewer risks and variables.
2 – Vehicle to vehicle comms
One of the potential upshots of driverless cars is a driving style known as ‘platooning’, where a number of driverless cars drive together in very tight formation. It is said to reduce the risk of accidents since the cars all act as one larger whole, communicating with each other to monitor speed and direction.
3 – Fighter jet-style info displays
Instead of a GPS system or smartphone attached to the dashboard, imagine instead a vivid arrow highlighting the next turn you should take, on the windscreen. That’s the impact smart-glass could have. Augmented reality technology is being harnessed to allow for a more intuitive way of passing essential information to drivers in a way that means they can keep their eyes on the road.
4 – Energy storing bodywork
One of the key considerations when buying an electric or hybrid car is battery size. It determines range and therefore cost. So what if the body panels of a car were in fact the battery cells? Power gained from regenerative braking or an overnight charge could be easily stored. And thanks to polymer fibre construction, they could even help reduce the weight of an electric vehicle by up to 15 per cent, while increasing the distance it travels in-between charges.
5 – Vehicle tracking and remote shutdown
Some insurance companies already offer lower rates to drivers who agree to a certain amount of behaviour tracking. But the details available to motoring underwriters could be even greater. Great for cheaper car insurance, not so much when it comes to having your every move monitored.
Remote car shutdown technology already exists, with the OnStar system installed in many cars. It allows for the engine to be cut remotely, something that could prove incredibly useful when it comes to ending police pursuits peacefully and with the minimum of danger to other road users.