The way we make our cars is changing fast, with higher tech features being rolled out every year. Did you know the average car takes around six years to develop and manufacture? This means that industry experts have a pretty good idea already of what sorts of features we can expect to see toward the end of this decade.
From self-driving cars to on-board health features to Augmented Reality dashboards, the future of car technology is looking very exciting. Read on to learn more about what technology will be hitting the road in the next decade.
Self-driving cars may be a common sight in the next decade or so, so say many industry insiders. Tesla has been testing designs for some time now, and Google’s Waymo has already begun driving itself in California, but the technology isn’t quite mass-market ready just yet. In the meantime, we’ll see an increase in automated aspects of driving. Automated Emergency Braking and lane assist features will likely become standard safety features in new cars, and parallel parking yourself may become a thing of the past.
Self-driving cars also open exciting opportunities for people who are restricted from driving for one reason or another. Elderly or disabled people could experience a greater range of mobility and freedom provided access to a fully automated vehicle. Some have also pointed out that since cars sit unused nearly 80 percent of the time, automated cars could be self-operating ridesharing services to assist others or provide their owners with some extra cash.
The computers used in cars are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time – a process that shows no sign of stopping in the coming decade. The dashboards and assistance features found in our vehicles are going to evolve. At present, we can make voice commands to change the song or make a phone call. In ten years, we may find ourselves using voice commands to ask for the scenic route to our destinations or telling our cars to find parking.
Facial recognition technology also might find its way into our cars. For example, it may notice if drivers are drifting off at the wheel and switch to automated driving. Facial recognition could also be used to create driver profiles and set preferences such as the radio station or AC temperature based on who gets in the driver’s seat.
It’s not just your face that may help you drive either — Nissan is currently doing experiments with brain-wave assist technology that would use a wireless headband to help drivers brake faster and prevent more collisions.
Navigational features will improve with time as well. Augmented Reality dashboards such as the ones being showcased by BMW currently could provide turn-by-turn directions in the driver’s field of view, preventing unnecessarily glances away from the road. Mapping programs may also offer more specific routing options, such as those based on scenic views, improved air quality, or safety of the route itself.
The way we engage with our health has been modernizing for some time now, as health tracking features become the norm in objects like our phones or watches. Now, car manufacturers are working to incorporate health-monitoring technology into our vehicles. Ford has already begun the process of introducing electrocardiographic sensors in the seat that can monitor heart activity without contact with the skin.
One function that is in development that many drivers will be looking forward to is the implementation of blood glucose monitoring on-board for diabetic drivers. These features are not only convenient, but they provide drivers a greater opportunity to prevent accidents by guaranteeing that their bodies are in good shape while they drive on the road.
Vehicle to Vehicle Communication
Vehicle to vehicle communication, also known as V2V, allows the computers inside cars to communicate with one another about their position and speed so that the cars can make adjustments as needed.
While this feature has already been introduced in certain newer models, the efficacy of this technology depends directly on how many cars are using it. The more vehicles that are a part of this network, the safer roads become.
More vehicle accidents (and in tandem: totaled cars) are prevented using V2V because cars are able to brake in response to communication from another car that its speed is reducing, rather than requiring the driver to notice the car in front of them is slowing down and then responding themselves.
Electric cars have been on the market for quite some time, but still only make up about 2 percent of vehicles on the road. There have been some major prohibitive factors in them becoming more popular, namely because the batteries they use aren’t as efficient as they could be, and because most areas don’t have the infrastructure to support electric car users. Electric batteries need to be charged often and charging stations can be far and few between in many areas.
However, experts anticipate major shifts in the next ten years that will change all that. The introduction of lithium ion alternatives such as solid state batteries that are safer as well as more efficient and long lasting have been suggested. Infrastructure changes have also been proposed, including making changes to the road themselves to allow electric car users to charge while driving! Some scientists have also proposed nanotechnology that could be distributed around the body of the car and eliminate the need for a big clunky battery and/or engine.
Beyond electric cars, the combustion engine could be seeing some changes in the future. Clean burning fuel alternatives that are renewable and affordable have been the focus of extensive research for years now, and there are some promising options we may find ourselves using soon.
Hydrogen powered engines, for example, only release heat and water as a byproduct. Some hydrogen powered cars are already on the market, but aren’t widely available. Solar powered cars have also been prototyped, but haven’t been successfully produced just yet.
The environmental consequences of the fuels we use and the materials we use to build our cars are major priorities for modern scientists and car manufacturers, who are responding to an increasingly environmentally-minded consumer base. Safety for people driving and the planet they’re driving on will be the design focus of the future.