We can say, without any shadow of doubt, that we are living in the golden age of automotive industry. Despite the recession and unstable global economy, the cars of today are setting new standards in design, quality, and safety, as well as in performance. Even the most ordinary family sedans are at least as fast, if not faster than the sports cars from the ’90s. Although the basic principles of car mechanics have not been changed for decades, new technology implemented in modern vehicles has made all the difference. Compared to the cars from the late ’90s, today’s vehicles are robots on wheels capable of protecting their passengers better, applying brakes by themselves and even recognizing drivers’ intentions. But that doesn’t mean the evolution has reached its peak. In fact, new technology is introduced daily, and we are going to tell you about 15 advances in the car industry that will certainly change the way we drive in just a couple of years from now. Get ready, because the future is here.
First and foremost, autonomous vehicles are top news in car industry since they are the biggest game changers ever. The technology is already here, and although the implementation is a little bit difficult, controversial, and even dangerous, we can expect self-driving cars in not so distant future. We will not drive the cars, but the cars will drive us and travel without our control. Of course, there are a lot of issues to be sorted out before it will be safe to ride in an autonomous vehicle on an everyday basis, but we are getting there more quickly than we think.
Front And Rear Radars
High-end luxurious vehicles already have front mounted radars which help break and keep the distance between the cars in dense highway traffic. However, radars mounted on the front and on the back to help you park and warn you of the car getting too close to you are slowly starting to get installed in regular new cars. We can expect that in the following years, all new vehicles will have this feature which will vastly improve our safety.
Driver Override Safety Systems
Advanced electronics and sensor units brought us to the point where a car is able to break where driver has failed to react, and recognize the danger even if the driver is too busy checking his phone. We can expect that override systems will be more and more powerful and involved with the driving, so the car will slowly take control. For example, if the car thinks that you should brake or stop, it will do so, even if your foot is on the accelerator pedal.
Night Vision Systems
In the early 2000s, some car manufacturers introduced night vision radars in selected high-end models. Basically, it is a front-mounted radar which sees much further than the human eye and can see trough heavy rain, fog or snow. The picture is then transmitted to the windshield in front of the driver. The newest application of this system has pedestrian detection and warning features, and it really helps you see what is in front of you in difficult weather conditions.
Biometric Vehicle Access
The keyless entry and even keyless start are already standard on so many modern vehicles. However, the industry is going a step further with plans to introduce fingerprint sensors for entering the car and retina scanners for starting the vehicle. The principle is simple, when you touch the door handle, it will recognize your fingerprints and open the door, and when you sit in the drivers seat, it will scan your eyes and start the car. The technology is already there and car keys as we know them can be extinct in a couple of years from now.
Laser LED Lights
Some manufacturers, like Audi, have already introduced a new generation of laser LED headlights which combine energy efficient LED technology with laser precision and brightness. It is still a very expensive option on high-end models but regular Halogen or LED lights are no match for laser LED headlights. This new technology proved far superior in difficult conditions like fog or heavy rain, and there are no blind spots like on conventional headlights.
Despite the fact that full wi-fi internet access in your car is still not available, car manufacturers are introducing ways to connect to the web over your phone’s SIM cards, with your car acting as a hotspot. The main problems are quality of connection in remote areas and bandwidth. The concept of in-car internet is not only for passengers’ entertainment or work, but for the car, which would download important information as well as maps, weather or traffic updates.
In fact, this option already exists and it is being used by OnStar company. Basically, if you report your car stolen, the operator can shut it down immediately while locking the doors and capturing the thief inside. We can expect this to be widely used, lowering the number of car thefts, while also helping recover the stolen cars. With the advancements in communication and navigation systems, remote vehicle shutdown will be standard equipment on all future cars.
Small Engines But Big Power
Downsizing is a hot trend in the car industry at the moment and there are a lot of new models with diminutive engines, but with nice power outputs. New technologies, advanced materials and turbocharging are helping fuel economy as well as keeping the emission levels down. We are sure that this will continue and it will affect the whole industry, not just in passenger cars but also trucks and buses. Gone are the days of powerful cars with big engines, now we will have even more power but from engines that are the size of a shoe box with a displacement of a tin can.
Body Panels From Advanced Materials
Hood made from metal is so 20th century, and manufacturers have been experimenting with various new materials based on carbon fiber for quite a while. The goal is to have body panels as light as possible, but also strong and durable. There are rumors that some companies will produce body panels with memory which, in case of a crash, will straighten itself back to its original shape after being treated with chemicals or electricity. There are ideas of removable multipurpose body panels so you can turn your car from a family sedan into a minivan or even a roadster.
Cars That Can Monitor Your Health
The idea behind this concept is that your car can monitor your health and warn you if your body temperature, heart rate or blood pressure are not normal. In extreme cases, the car will send a call for help saving you valuable time. But, how will the car know if there is something wrong with you? The seat belt will be full of sensors and since it is ideally positioned from your shoulder to your hip it can monitor your body while you drive.
Advanced Vehicle Tracking
Vehicle tracking has been a common thing for years, but the next generation will depend on in-car internet and GPS, and will provide much more than just the location. Car tracking companies will soon be able to provide information about your speed, traffic violations, the distance you have driven in a period of time and basically every piece of information regarding your driving. Sounds pretty scary, and it is. Also, you can expect that insurance companies will take full advantage of total tracking systems.
Active Window Glass
The manufacturers have already implemented HUD systems into cars, but car glass companies are experimenting with visual active materials which can turn to full displays in a matter of seconds. Imagine your windshield acting like a big iPad display on which you can control every in-car function and turn into ordinary see-through glass in a split second. The active glass technology can also make photoactive car windows which tint automatically to protect the passengers from the sun.
Engines Without Camshafts
One of the most important parts of a car’s engine are camshafts which control the valves on top of the cylinders. However, if you replace the camshaft, springs and whole assembly with a set of electromagnets and precision software, you will get better revving engine, more power, cleaner emissions and better fuel economy. Not to mention smaller dimensions of the engine itself. Several companies are now preparing to commence the production of engines equipped with this system.
Tesla and similar car manufacturers have already made a revolution in the car industry with their models. In just a few short years, we have changed our views of electric cars. At first, electric cars were considered quirky and obscure vehicles with not so impressive specifications, but now, they have become cool and amazingly fast. In fact, Tesla can outrun a Porsche 911 Turbo in stop light drag race! However, we have seen nothing yet and as more and more companies introduce fully electric cars, gasoline powered cars could be bound for museums in near future.