The Car of the Future: How Will It Be?

 

 

Many people see the car of the future as a vehicle decades away from reality, but we’re already living that reality. Electric vehicles, driver assistance systems, augmented displays, and autonomous vehicles are already making use of the latest, state-of-the-art technology. Take a closer look at how futuristic tech has already made its way into the car in your garage and what could possibly come next.

 

 
 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND BETTER RANGE

Electric vehicles are now a common part of our lives and an essential part of sustainable living in many cities. We’ve all seen photos of celebrities like Ben Affleck in their sensible hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs). But the worry about charging EVs has kept many people from considering them as a serious alternative to a gas-powered car. Fortunately, manufacturers have made great strides in how far an EV can go on a single charge.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2020 Porsche Taycan can travel just over 200 miles on one charge. The more affordable 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus has 226 miles of range. Chevy’s new Bolt is an impressive 259 miles. And then there are the 2020 Teslas — the Model Y can travel 315 miles on a single charge while the Model S Long Range goes 373 miles. 

As distance on one charge improves, you’ll save on the cost of charging your EV. According to Direct Energy, a 2018 Nissan Leaf uses 30 kWh/100 mile. Factoring the average price of electricity at 12 cents per kWh, the Leaf costs 3.6 cents per mile. The improved range of the 2020 Leaf Plus is sure to save you further while helping you in your journey to a sustainable lifestyle.

 
 
 
 

 

DISADVANTAGES OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Not all is rose-colored when it comes to EVs, however. The technology behind EVs is still relatively new, and because of that (and other factors), there are a number of disadvantages to owning an EV:

  • Charging time: Right now, EVs still take hours to properly charge, which means you may need a stand-by vehicle while you’re waiting.
  • Uncertain future: No one knows if the technology behind EVs will continue to advance, whether prices will eventually come down, or whether EVs will eventually be replaced by some other “green” contender.
  • Price: It may be 10-20 years before EVs are within the price range that makes them affordable to the average consumer.
  • Lacking power: If an EV goes fast, it drains power much faster, which severely curtails its range before it needs to be charged.
  • Lack of Noise: People cannot hear an EV’s approach, which makes them far more dangerous to passers-by.

As you can see, there are many reasons why EVs just aren’t the right pick for most consumers, and only time will tell whether what will change.

 
 

SOLAR VEHICLES

There are many experts who claim that solar vehicles will never take off. They say that a car is just not the right place to put solar panels — but that doesn’t mean some manufactures aren’t trying, however.

Light Year, a Dutch company, has developed a car whose prototype is being dubbed as the first car that can travel long distances using just the power of the sun. The car, Lightyear One, has solar cells on its hood and roof which are placed behind a layer of protective glass. The car is said to have a range of 450 miles before needing to regenerate with the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph in ten seconds.

At the present time, seven different companies, including car manufacturers Hyundai and Toyota, are working on developing fully-functional solar-powered vehicles. However, it is too early to know whether their efforts will pay off.

 
 
 
 

 

SELF-DRIVING CARS

Many cars now have a self-driving mode in one way or another. It may come in the form of a vehicle that can park itself, such as the BMW 7 Series, or through driver safety and assistance technology, such as Lane Keeping Aid or Lane Departure Assistance that can automatically adjust a car’s steering to keep it in its lane.

If these advancements seem tame, those ready to jump into the future will be happy to know there are vehicles close to driving themselves independently. While no car is fully self-driving yet, the Tesla comes close. The manufacturer has fitted all new models with self-driving hardware to make autonomous driving possible in the future with a mere software update.

So, what’s the delay? There are several reasons. States aren’t ready with the proper legislation to regulate the use of self-driving cars on public roads. Plus, there have been some deadly accidents, leading many to question the safety of the driverless vehicle. One recent case was the self-driving Uber car in Arizona that killed a woman who was crossing in the middle of the street. According to a report, the vehicle was unable to “see” a pedestrian unless the person is crossing at or near a crosswalk.

Another possible delay to self-driving cars on a street near you is the likelihood that, as driverless systems increase in sophistication level, they will rely on AI software and internet connectivity. These advancements can pose cybersecurity threats in the general sphere, threats that need to be addressed before autonomous vehicles decide to take on the tech and are widely circulating on public roads — cyberattackers or hackers can overtake a vehicle’s system. Vehicle manufacturers need to address the dangers cybercriminals can pose.

 
 

COOL FUTURISTIC FEATURES

Even if the flying or driverless car isn’t at a car showroom near you just yet, many of the latest models feature cool futuristic aspects. One such feature is found on the Mercedes Benz and is known as head-up display.

It works by projecting a picture on your windshield in front of you, right below eye level, showing you 3-D information about your vehicle including speed and GPS instructions. Mercedes envisioned the tech as a way to keep your eyes on the road longer and to avoid glancing over to the center console to view your map directions. The technology is still in its early stages but could lead to an incredible augmented reality experience in the future, especially if the projection can be applied to all windows for all passengers.

Hyundai has been working on including fingerprint-reading technology in its new model lineup to improve your convenience level and the security of your vehicle. The goal is to use fingerprints to start your car. Imagine no longer having to find your keys or worry about a stranger breaking into your car and driving it away. The near future may bring fingerprint scanning in cars to a reality, similar to what’s already possible with an iPhone.

 
 
 
 

 

THE FUTURE IS NOW

It’s easy to adapt to technology and take its presence for granted. But many current features such as on-board wifi or voice controls were unimaginable just a few years ago. As technology develops quickly, car designers and manufacturers find ways to incorporate the advances into our cars. Many of the futuristic features improve safety, but quite a few add to our driving experience as well as the comfort level of all the car’s passengers. The future of cars is proving to be exciting.

 
+ Words: Luke Smith 
 
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics. Sustainability topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.