5 Predictions for the Future of Automotive Technology

Category: Auto

Cars as people know them have reached the end of their life cycle. In the past 100 years or so they’ve come an incredibly long way, but a new trend is just around the corner. It’s no longer going to be an evolution of already existing cars, but rather a complete wave of new and innovative automobiles that resemble the things people call cars. Read on to learn about the future of cars...

The Future of Automobiles

There's no doubt that car technology is rapidly advancing, and it can be hard to keep up. Smart cars, self-driving cars, and improvements in safety and efficiency are either here, or just over the horizon. Though some technologies will take longer to develop than others before you see them in the dealerships, here are five predictions for the future of automotive technology you can expect to see in the next couple of decades.

Autonomous Cars - Of course, autonomous cars are at the top of the list because they’re actually already here. Self-driving cars can function on the road all on their own even today, but the topic is still sensitive and is a gray area. Simply put, the infrastructure and roads for such a feat are not ready, and neither are the people.

For autonomous cars to catch on, people are going to have to start looking at cars as devices, much like the laptop or the mobile phone. A lot of people have an emotional connection to their car, and driving itself symbolizes a form of freedom and individuality. Taking that away from millions of people is not going to happen overnight.

Future of automotive technology

As radars, lasers, and cameras get better, people will start relying on the technology more and more, and that’s a fact. Although it probably won’t happen in the next decade, in twenty to thirty years nearly all of the cars on the road will be capable of fully autonomous driving. Whether people choose to use it though, is a different story - or whether it’ll be legal to drive your own car for that matter.

Smart Cars - Autonomous cars are in fact smart cars, but there’s a whole different technology behind the “smart car” idea. You see, it’s one thing for a car to be able to drive itself, but a completely different to be able to talk to other cars in real time. The technology has had some success in various tests, but for it to completely work, all of the cars on the road will have to be able to communicate to each other.

The idea is that once every car knows where it’s going and can communicate with other cars, things like traffic lights and traffic signs will become obsolete. Cars will be able to pass one another in extremely busy intersections at full speed, simply because they know they’re not going to crash. However, if just one person decides to drive on his own, this entire plan becomes obsolete and useless. It’s a brilliant idea which works in theory, but it will take a lot of effort to be placed in practice.

Augmented Reality Dashboards - Most of us already know what a GPS is and what it does. If Augmented Reality becomes a thing in the near future, the need for separate or built-in GPS units will no longer exist. Remember how in Terminator the robots are able to bring up information right in front of their eyes? Augmented Reality dashboards will work in a very similar fashion.

Rather than looking down at the GPS or even the instrument cluster, all of the information will be brought up on the windshield in real time. Things like navigation, speed, distance from the car in front will all show on an interface. It’ll even be able to inform you of an impending accident by flashing a big red box on the windshield. BMW has already been able to implement this technology in a prototype, and with a bit of fine tuning, AR can find its way into cars in the next few years.

Exterior Airbags - Yes, it does sound silly when you put it like that, but the technology is actually really clever. Airbags inside the car help minimize passenger injuries, but exterior ones could drastically reduce the number of fatal crashes on the road further still.

Mercedes has experimented with this technology by fitting external airbags on the underside of one of their cars. When the systems detect a crash is imminent, the airbags deploy and dramatically slow the car down right before the accident. This is thanks to the friction coating the airbags are lined with. They also raise the car up by several centimeters, thus countering the dipping motion the car experiences under heavy braking. This means that rather than striking the car in front dipped down, you’ll effectively hit it head on (bumper-to-bumper), so the impact is absorbed by both parties equally.

Energy-Storing Panels - The idea is really simple, but implementing it is anything but. Current hybrids and EVs require batteries for the electric motors, which are both heavy and rather inconvenient. They also take up a lot of room, hence why hybrids have so little trunk space. Energy-storing body panels aim to eliminate the need for batteries altogether, and nine auto manufacturers are currently toying with the idea in Europe.

The panels will be made out of polymer fiber and carbon resin, both of which are strong enough for automotive use but also exhibit energy-storing abilities. The energy would naturally be accumulated from regenerative braking or through the traditional plug-in system when a car is left to charge overnight. Since this technology eliminates the need for batteries, it also means the produced electricity doesn’t have to be used to shift those batteries around. Yes, it’s going to be more expensive to begin with, but production costs will come down once it finds its way into more conventional automobiles.

Today's article was provided by Mark Slater. He's a car tech enthusiast who works for Olathe Dodge Chrysler Jeep, in Olathe KS. You can visit their dealership online. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "5 Predictions for the Future of Automotive Technology"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
01 Feb 2018

Thanks, Bob 'n' Mark.

I eagerly look forward to all the innovations you've discussed, Mark. But at my age, the far side of 70, I may not be around long enough to see them all come to pass.

But my grandkids are gonna love 'em!


Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

The internal combustion engine has been a dinosaur for quite some time now. Advances should have been made decades ago, but our oil producing friends had kept other non-gasoline versions off the market for decades.

I'm all for self-driving cars. Let's face it, humans make a lot of mistakes on the road and some people are simply not even average at driving.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

Bob, I'm sure that some folks are intrigued by the five forms of automotive 'technology' that you have addressed. As for me, I have no intention whatsoever of entertaining any thoughts of climbing into a car that has to be considered a 'device' rather that an automobile. Most 'devices' are powered by Microsoft (Windows) and we all know just how NOT reliable or stable that is. This is just another form of technical insanity in my opinion.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

Great snapshot of the future!!! TOO BAD it's not ALL here today!!!
Another GREAT Bob Article!!!

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
01 Feb 2018

The current largest obstacle to any of these advanced technologies being implemented is security; as in, there ain't any.

Imagine the chaos that could be caused by a hacker or terrorist hijacking a swarm of autonomous vehicles and intentionally crashing them into pedestrians or other cars. Or taking control of an autonomous car and trapping a specific passenger and kidnapping him/her for ransom.

And even with perfect security, imagine getting into your car or an autonomous taxi and having the government security services override your controls and drive you to a detention facility.

Thanks, but no thanks. I see a lot more threat than desirable feature in most of these "advanced" devices.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

With all the safety talk one thing has been missed: I read an article from a trucker driving along when his front wheel tire blew. It took all of his years of driving skill to keep the truck from going off the road and killing himself. He didn’t think driverless trucks could handle this problem, nor do I. Same issue applies to cars, has this issue been addressed?

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

ken Mitchell has hit the nail on the head , the powers that be can't even protect our computers from hackers & viruses now .

Posted by:

Top Squirrel
01 Feb 2018

I saw what I recall to be the very same picture of people playing cards while driving along, in the 1950s. It was described as the next generation of automobiles.

They also said cars would have dual capability, being able to travel by surface and by air. (The drawings looked futuristic even by current standards.)

How lucky I was to get my driver's license before any of this futuristic stuff was implemented; I thought when it finally happened I'd be grandfathered in.

I'm still waiting. Next article of how things will be in the future, try to use illustrations less than 60 years old.

Some people just want to get from point A to B; others just love to drive. It must give them a sense of control that escapes them in the rest of their lives. What will wind up happening will have to accommodate both these groups. At the same time.

[Another idea whose time had come and gone: Digging a hole and burying brand new muscle cars -- V-8s with balls. Back in the environmentally-conscious '60s, that's just what happened to some unfortunate Trans Ams and Corvettes. From showroom direct to gravesite. I can just imagine the guys who pulled this kicking themselves later.]

Posted by:

Stephen Stein
01 Feb 2018

Ain't gonna happen for a looong time. Consider Spectre and Meltdown problem vis a vis Intel processors and how many 10's of millions of devices are affected. Throw in the absence of any comprehensive solution to this and the severity of the problem is staggering. In any case, even if a solution is found then it will only be a matter of time (a short time) until the fix is defeated by hackers. Cat and mouse deal with no end in sight. It is simply ridiculous to think that there will be millions of self driving cars on the roads that can be compromised perhaps simultaneously by bad actors of which we have no lack of in the world. Imagine the mayhem, injuries and deaths that would result. The lawyers would have a field day. We have sold our souls to the digital devil. Our way of life in virtually every aspect is dependent on computers that are increasingly vulnerable. We are facing a very uncertain future. I may appear to be pessimistic but history gives me little comfort. Our species may have very well painted ourselves into a deadly technological corner. Forget about these self driving cars. There are many, many bridges to cross before such, if ever, becomes a reality.

Posted by:

Charles Fisher
01 Feb 2018

Ken Mitchell said it for me, "thanks but no thanks.
They can't even protect our computers right.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

Pie in the sky.
Same as electric card were seen as the answer, these future cars are exactly that. In Africa I suddenly have to drive a thousand miles - petrol stations are available, even without electrical power, so electrical card are a no-no until they've got a thousand-Mike range.
The thought of sharing a car or sitting in the back of one is NOT part of the American Dream. And what happens when a dog runs across the road? Does the car run the dog over or swerve and kill a pedestrian? In Africa, of course, it will usually be a cow not a dog or, heaven forbid, an elephant!!! Try programming that lot in.
Never mind general hacking which could be a massive issue - what about all the "petrol heads" (New name needed) who will try to soup up the card or take over controls?
Your writer lives in a utopian world.

Posted by:

James McGee
01 Feb 2018

Im smack in the middle between 70 and 80 and even though I'm considered an old geezer by many I am completely in favor of autonomous cars. Why fight technology? Its here to stay. Imagine a world of no more drunk drivers or drivers falling asleep behind the wheel. If it saves one family the grief of losing a loved one its worth it!

Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
01 Feb 2018

I suggested to my brother, who at the time worked for Dodge, that a canvas bag be developed to handle the exhaust air from the vehicle in front of the vehicle, thus the faster one goes the bigger the bag would develop, and when hitting an object the less impact on its front end.

What ever happen to that suggestion is beyond me, but still a good and inexpensive idea, a lot less expense than the current air bags we have to change in recalled vehicles.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

This is such a complicated subject. I would wonder how antique autos will be handled. After all, there are automobiles over 100 years old let alone all the 50's, 60's and 70's cars that are driven today. Even though you only rarely see one of these it sort of negates the idea of a smart car driving through an intersection at full speed.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

Not going to happen. In a dangerous situation, car will be programmed to do the least harm which could easily be to crash the car, killing the occupants. When people understand this, they won't buy the vehicles.

Posted by:

01 Feb 2018

You are absolutely right that humans make a lot of mistakes. By my estimate, half the drivers on the road are "simply not even average at driving."
Except, of course, in Lake Wobegon where all the drivers are above average...

Posted by:

02 Feb 2018

In regards to energy storing panels, in a crash into the panel that energy may be released. Possibly as an explosion or fire.

Posted by:

Robert Beveridge
02 Feb 2018

Its all a bit Flash Gordon and pie in the sky autonomous cars are being built because nowadays, we can.
Autonomous cars are against our natural instinct of being in control, blipping the throttle and double-declutching as we stir the stick shift or even making full use of an auto box.
So if a town was ever built where a car was a tool and not a machine of choice or a thing of beauty who would be satisfied riding in a tool of a set speed and direction? if its all about saving the planet why don't we stop uneducated countries from chopping down the forests which are the lungs of the world? this is the real reason for adverse climate change, will rich Arab oil sheikhs ever dump their dodge vipers and Ferraries for an autonomous or smart electric car, I think not, anyway the radio beams which will guide the autonomous cars will probably fry our brains before we get to the destination :-)

Posted by:

Ramen Quattrous
19 Feb 2018

Stephen Stein: "... painted ourselves into a deadly technological corner...". That is priceless. I am saving that phrase for future use. Thanks.

Posted by:

Ramen Quattrous
19 Feb 2018

Stephen Stein: "... painted ourselves into a deadly technological corner...". That is priceless. I am saving that phrase for future use. Thanks.

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