by Hilary Kramer | August 29, 2012 9:45 am
Science fiction is loaded with images of what transportation will look like in the future. Flying cars and teleportation are common themes, and though they might seem futuristic and far off, it actually might not be long until those “cars of the future” hit the market.
You might not know it, but there is some very exciting automotive technology underway that could drastically change the ways we drive in the near future. I’d like to share some of the innovations that I think really push the envelope and could have a big impact on our everyday lives with you now. And who knows, these new models could be here before we know it.
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Augmented Reality: With more than six million car crashes each year in the U.S., safety is a big concern when it comes to improving car technology. Enter Augmented Reality Dashboards (AR), which could function not unlike some of the super technology used in movies like Terminator and Star Wars, where the driver points to a person or an object and information automatically displays in hologram form about them. For our purposes, AR technology will display warnings on the dashboard when a driver approaches another car too quickly, and even project guiding arrows that instruct the driver how to maneuver around a vehicle or object to avoid a collision. BMW has already implemented forms of AR technology in its dashboards, but it might not be long before the term “smart car” takes on a whole new meaning.
Airbags that Prevent Crashes: We have airbags in our steering wheels and in side compartments, but if the folks at Mercedes have anything to say about it, airbags will soon be included underneath our cars as well. Airbags in the underbelly of a car would deploy when sensors determine that a crash is inevitable, slowing down the car and stopping it before a crash takes place. This technology could revolutionize the way we view crash protection, by transforming safety mechanisms from reactionary tools to preventative measures.
Car Talk? Some people talk about having “care telepathy,” where they can sense what other drivers might do on the road using subtle signals. Now, drivers might not be the only ones reading signals. The U.S. government, along with car manufacturers, is looking into Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication (V2V) technology where cars read signals from other cars and relay that information back to drivers. The information would include anything from speed, direction, and location of other cars on the road, as well as weather and traffic patterns, transforming the way we drive and reducing accidents.
Just Charge It: Hybrid cars are the future of automotive technology, with Exxon Mobil estimating half of all new cars will be hybrids by 2040. Current models use heavy lithium-ion batteries that take up a lot of space and weight the cars down. But scientists in Europe are exploring the use of energy-storing body panels that charge faster than batteries, all while reducing the car’s weight by 15%. The panels could capture energy when the car is plugged in overnight, or by technologies like regenerative braking. If these panels hit the market, hybrid cars will become even more energy efficient and could change –America’s car culture as we know it.
For more car technologies that could revolutionize how we drive, and for more information about the innovations above, click here.
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