As customers have embraced high-tech smartphone, tablets, smart televisions, and many other futuristic gadgets in recent years, the car seems to have been left out. The only major development, it seems, is the ability to use Bluetooth and Apple’s iPod connector to stream music and calls to the car’s touchscreen stereo system. That’s all about to change, however, as the focus of the tech world shifts centrally to the personal automobile and how a few improvements might make even longer drives a great deal more enjoyable. Among promising future developments, seven stand out as among the best.
1. Radar-Enabled Brakes
Automatic brakes, powered by radar and sonar technology, are becoming increasingly popular outside of the luxury market and they’re likely to become a standard feature across the board in future years. Using advanced technologies, the brakes actually sense how close the driver is to another object, and how fast they might impact that object if they don’t slow down. If the driver doesn’t press the brakes fast enough, the car will do it on their behalf and potentially save them from major injury.
2. Heads-Up Displays (HUD)
For as long as the dashboard has been a standard feature in cars, and that’s a pretty long time, drivers have had to look down at their speedometer or fuel gauge to figure out if they need to adjust their driving. This momentary eyes-off-the-road glance can actually put drivers in harm’s way, and that’s what the heads-up display is designed to prevent.
Heads-up displays project crucial information, like fuel levels, engine temperature, and current speed onto the windshield directly in front of the driver. They sit far enough away from the road to avoid obstructing the driver’s view, but they’re close enough to be more visible and more convenient than a typical odometer in the dash.
3. Self-Parking Systems
Ask any driver what their least favorite thing to do is, and the same two-word phrase awaits in almost every case: Parallel parking. Luckily, cars of the future will likely come standard with an automatic, self-parking system that uses a series of sensors and self-driving techniques to park the car without so much as a head-turn on the driver’s behalf. This system is already a high-end add-on for cars like the Ford Focus and, by the end of the decade, it may well become a feature taken for granted on all makes and models.
4. The In-Car Vacuum Cleaner
Vacuuming a car typically requires one of two common frustrations: Either a bag full of quarters at a local car wash, or a complex series of extension cords to get the home’s vacuum cleaner close enough to the car to get the job done. Honda is changing all of that, however, with its in-van vacuum cleaner paired with its Honda Odyssey model. The vacuum is stowed in the back of the car, powered by the car’s battery or engine, and capable of storing a large amount of stones, crumbs, and other dirt, when the car needs a quick overhaul inside.
5. The Automatic Lift-Gate
Technologies of future cars will be mostly focused on making it easier to use and drive the vehicle. Nowhere is this more apparent than one of today’s most quickly emerging technologies: The automated lift gate. By simply running a foot underneath the car’s bumper, where a sensor is installed, lift gates on mini-vans and SUVs will rise automatically and make it far easier to load cargo without first putting it down, opening the car manually, and picking it up again. It truly is the small things in life that make a real difference.
6. Better Materials
Just a few decades ago, cars were almost always sold with steel or aluminum panels that were heavy, awkward, and prone to denting. In the current era, most cars use materials like fiberglass to reduce the car’s weight, make the car more immune to dents and dings, and generally withstand the wear and tear of driving a bit better. The future could see cars made of carbon fiber or other materials, which would make the vehicle even lighter, more efficient, and stronger than current models.
7. The Self-Driving Car
Currently a pipe dream, scientists and major manufacturers are currently working on cars that could drive themselves using lane-defining technologies and GPS systems. It might just make cars competitive with mass transit systems in terms of convenience and morning distractions.
Great Advances Await the Auto Industry
With a wide range of developments, from self-parking to self-driving and much more, the auto industry is finally getting in on the game when it comes to new technologies and automation. Most drivers, who are often tired of doing all the work themselves, would agree that it’s about time.