FUTURE CAR PREDICTIONS
The future car say a 2025 model will be a very
different beast to its present day Grandfather. It will be
packed with computers and safety devices, ensuring that not
even a stunt driver could crash. It will run on carbon dioxide.
And it will emit strawberry-scented oxygen (or perhaps not).
Predictions of future vehicles are usually wildly inaccurate.
By now we should all have space programs to rival NASA based
out of our backyard. However some of the automobile-related
cutting-edge technology emerging now may well make it into
production models of the future. But how much of this technology
will be needed or even wanted? Car design of the present is
already influenced by politicians, bureaucrats, health and
safety regulations and emissions regulations, and the stunning
concept seen at the motorshow emerges into the world as a
1.0 litre shopping cart but at least its legal.
Personally I like the idea of fuel-efficient hybrid cars and
fuel cell cars emitting nothing
but water. However, like most enthusiasts, I also like powerful,
loud convertibles with warp-speed capabilities. A sensible
mix therefore is required and this will be the job entrusted
to car designers and engineers of the future to make
a politically correct car that is also desirable.
Another problem facing designers of the future is coming up
with styling ideas that are fresh and new. Some of the more
recent concepts are certainly striking but not necessarily
beautiful in the classic sense of the word. However if there
is one thing the automobile industry is good at, it's innovation,
and I for one am confident that radical and extreme concepts
never before imagined will continue to appear at motorshows
around the world.
COMPUTERS IN CARS
Computer technology has already taken a firm hold of the automobile
and the driver is less and less responsible for the actions
of his or her vehicle. Soon crash victims will be trying to
sue the electronics companies for accidents caused because
their computer system failed to brake the car even
though the driver was fast asleep at the wheel on a three-lane
highway. Until you have automation of every single vehicle
on every single road, computer-driven cars are just not feasible.
To my mind there are just too many on-the-road variables:
with all the logic in the world, you cannot beat a brain.
Computer-assisted driving is already available in certain
Mercedes models which brake for you if you're not looking
where you're going and are too close to the car in front;
but there is still a driver in control of the car. Or is there?
What if, for some reason, you wanted to get closer to the
car in front, you needed to get closer to the car,
if you didn't get closer to the car something terrible
would happen to civilization? Where do you draw the line with
In advanced cities of the future, CCTV will be so prevalent
that visible crimes such as car theft will be all but wiped
out. Yet that still won't stop the determined thief. GPS (Global
Positioning System) units fitted as standard to all new automobiles
will be able to track any vehicle, anytime, anywhere. In England,
the government is already talking about fitting GPS to charge
motorists depending on what road they travel on and at what
times, to cut spiraling congestion. This technology, coupled
with an improved mobile phone and bluetooth network, can be
used to track and recover stolen vehicles. When the vehicle
is found to be stolen, a call can be made which shuts down
the engine of the car. At the same time, a call is sent out
that alerts available nearby police. By using the GPS installed
in both the stolen car and the police car, officers can track
the car even if they cannot see it.
The police will also have much more insight into a vehicle's
record when out on patrol. Using bluetooth technology, a police
car can tail a vehicle and receive information on the owner,
the current driver and their driving history, and can even
find out recent top speed and acceleration figures. Of course,
who really wants that? You think you've just had a fun little
blast on your favorite bit of road, you get pulled over five
miles later, and the officer gives you a speeding ticket for
something he didn't see. But if this technology is mandatory
then what choice do you have?
Access to future automobiles may be very different to the
keys of today. Push-button code entry and keycard systems,
where the key doesn't even leave your pocket, could become
commonplace. You hear the term "keyless entry" but
it still uses a remote control attached to a key which is
then used to start the car. Biometrics, which are available
on some computer systems and use fingerprinting as a password,
could be an effective alternative to the key. You could even
program it for members of your family, deciding between access
only for the children or access and drive functions for those
with licenses. However, I believe it will be some time before
this is the only means of vehicle entry or start up. What
if you are lending your car to a friend and you cannot be
present to allow start up?
Multimedia systems will continue to develop in cars until
the point where the "are we there yet?" phrase develops
into "can we stay here?". Manufacturers are continuing
to stuff more and more video screens into increasingly ingenious
places, providing a rolling cinematic Dolby 5.0 surround-sound
experience. DVDs are going to go the way of the VCR with hard
disk recording of video being the dominant power, much as
MP3s are killing off CDs.
This MP4 technology will save space in the car and allow for
far more footage to be kept on board. Improvements in wireless
Internet connections could mean that the larger roads can
support Internet capable vehicles and constantly inform the
driver with up to date relevant road information. A screen
in the dash could display live images to show traffic reports
and also predict traffic jams by using the GPS systems in
all vehicles to show areas where vehicles have been stopped
or are congested, and then supply alternate routes.
The sound systems of cars will also improve and become more
personalised for the various passengers, with headphone sockets
and multiple sound outlets. There might be four different
radio stations that can be played at once through the different
jacks, and a variety of MP3s that can be played at once.
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