From James Bond to Back to the Future, the movie world has always pushed the boundaries in the functionality and practicalities of cars. But what about in real life?
Recent technological advancements are seeing some equally innovative concepts come to life. In this article we explore some of the newest technologies on the market and possibilities in the automotive industry.
Tesla Model S
Mention smart cars and you will likely come across Tesla. Elon Musk’s super-innovative car company has been at the forefront of car design since it was founded in July 2003.
With a major focus on creating zero emission vehicles, the Tesla Model S has been created as a fully electric car. Although this technology is still developing, the car has an impressive 240 mile range once fully charged. The downside will definitely be the charging time, unless, you buy a supercharger. However, as the name suggests, the supercharger is super expensive.
More impressive still is the smart nature of the car. Riddled with computers, the car can take on updates during its charge…this means your car gets increasingly smarter over time.
It seemed like an impossible feat, but BMW managed to make hybrid cars cool with their i8 model. The most impressive aspect of this car is its sheer power. The electric front motor kicks out 129bhp, whilst the small (1.5 litre) rear petrol engine provides 228bhp when required.
Thanks to its highly innovative powertrain and extremely light construction, BMW i8 has an impressive acceleration while keeping the fuel consumption low. Its design also supports the manufacturer’s futuristic vision – but it comes at the cost of the doors which are highly impractical when opening and closing, not to mention drivers with limited physical abilities, for whom it would surely be impossible to use the car.
Although the Toyota iRoad might seem to be less attractive compared to Tesla or BMW, this car has a genius ability to avoid and eradicate traffic congestion.
With top speeds of 37mph and a range of just 30 miles, these aren’t being designed to replace your car. They are more likely to be used in a swap system, driving to the city outskirts and then swapping your car for one of these to reach your final destination.
If you don’t think it is all that futuristic, consider that motorists in London lost on average three days in traffic in 2017, it is clear that these sorts of solutions will become more widespread and sought after as this issue increases.
The downside however, is the fact that you have to remember about somehow bringing two forms of transport with you at all times, which in all honesty is not an ideal solution.
We can rarely have a conversation about future technology without mentioning tech behemoth Google.
When it comes to autonomous cars, Google’s Waymo is paving the way. Having clocked over 5 million miles during extensive testing, the Waymo projects is now working with locals in Phoenix, AZ to undertake the first public trial of the self-driving cars.
Waymo’s mission is to integrate the autonomous driving system into the existing vehicles and make roads safer by reducing the number of accidents. The vehicles achieve self-drive status via the use of various innovative technologies including LIDAR, radar and high resolution cameras.
Fully autonomous vehicles will definitely work in the future, when every car is piloted by AI. Until then, there will be continuous accidents, as human drivers are unpredictable, often distracted, tired, sleepy or inexperienced. This causes behaviours which are hard for AI to predict.
The most outlandish concept on this list is that of flying cars. It might look a little far-fetched, but this is far from the truth.
The big manufactures certainly see this as a natural next step in transportation. This is apparent in the case of Volvo who announced in late 2017 that they had purchased Terrafugia, a flying car technology business.
The technology behind the start-up has already been proved to some extent, with a handful of transition vehicles that are effectively road legal planes that fit into a one car garage being sold at $279,000 each.
Their latest prototype is even more ambitious, providing a sleeker look and retractable wings. Other, less advanced concepts for this include quad-copter type people carriers.
Eventually, these flying machines will become fully or semi-automated drones, however there is a certain danger connected to letting people use autopilots. Manufacturers often fail to inform the future drivers that the autopilot system still needs to be controlled. These related incidents – four in the United States and one in China – are likely to lead for calls that the autopilot system in any machine should be used as driver assist only rather than a fully autonomous system that runs the car by itself.
It is clear that the automotive industry is going to drastically change over the coming years. With much of the futuristic technology already present and available in some way on the commercial market. The focus of all of these developments are to eradicate modern day issues including congestion and harmful emissions.
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