The first gas-powered automobile offered such amazing features as a horse-free operation, and well, that’s about it. Today, we expect a certain level of comfort when choosing a car. Air conditioning, powered options, a quality sound system, touch screens, airbags, ABS brakes, and traction control are just a few options that we’ve come to expect in a daily driver. With how far we’ve come in vehicles over the last 100 years, it’s exciting to look forward to some upcoming vehicle features for a glimpse at the cars of tomorrow!
Upcoming Vehicle Features – Exterior
While there’s no doubt upcoming vehicle features will continue to evolve with a focus on the interior, vehicle exteriors will also be getting major upgrades.
Solar Chargers – Something that has been rumored for a long time, solar technology may be approaching the point where it’s actually viable in vehicle production. A solar roof is currently an option on the Toyota Prius, but nearly every vehicle can benefit from this technology. Just as common as buying a phone charger for your vehicle, solar panels have become a portable option to harvest some power from the sun. The future of solar panels and solar technology in vehicles is in the paint. Mercedes has recently unveiled their G-Code concept, which uses a special blend of materials in the vehicles paint, turning the entire car into a driving solar panel. There are still a few kinks to work out in this system, as the current efficiency of solar paint is much lower than traditional solar panels.
Regenerative Braking – A system that is already making its way into hybrids, regenerative braking is used to capture some of the kinetic energy lost when applying the vehicle’s brakes. This is especially useful for hybrids or electric vehicles. Where we may start to see this more widely used is in vehicles with start-stop technology (when the engine cuts out at a stoplight). As the demand for electronics in the vehicle’s cabin grows, a safe bet for upcoming vehicle features is more regenerative braking. Formula 1 teams are currently using a form of regenerative braking known as KERS to give vehicles a temporary boost of up to 80 horsepower for short periods of time.
Cameras – Backup cameras have become a common feature for those looking for extra safety, but the envelop continues to be pushed. Upcoming vehicle features means we may see the end of rear and side view mirrors. The future of vehicle cameras will be in a 360° view of your vehicle complete with night vision, for driving in low light conditions. BMW and Mercedes currently offer forward facing infrared night vision on some of their top tier models.
Sensors – Actively not crashing your car into everything else on the road can be a lot of work. More and more manufacturers are working towards vehicles with enough sensors in them to ensure traditional driving is a thing of the past. Upcoming vehicle features include things like lane assist: a system that lets you know when you’re veering in and out of a lane, pedestrian detection: a system to identify nearby pedestrians and warn you of dangers, or proximity sensors: used to adjust your vehicle’s cruise control to avoid accidents with other vehicles.
Upcoming Vehicle Features – Interior
The real excitement of upcoming vehicle features is all the new information that will be delivered to the vehicles interior. Never before has a driver had access to such knowledge and information in real time about their vehicle.
Interfaces – Current vehicle “infotainment” systems are clunky, and not all that useful. For people that connect devices or use their vehicles infotainment systems, important upcoming vehicle features include the adoption of Apple and Android’s ecosystem. This means that the same software that powers your phones will be in your vehicle, allowing for greater ease of connectivity and more features using Apple and Android’s massive app offerings.
Heads Up Display – Knowing information about your vehicle is important, but constantly staying on top of that information can be a full time job. Taking your eyes of the road, even for a split second, can result in an accident. While heads-up displays are nothing new, they have begun to make a comeback with the amount of information being presented to drivers. New models of heads-up displays can show map routes, display a virtual line (or even a car) to follow on the road, send and receive texts and more. Land Rover has even created a system for using cameras and heads-up displays to create seemingly transparent A-pillars and engine bays in a vehicle, making sure nothing obstructs your field of view.
Connectivity – We’ve reported on this before, but it has continued to gain traction and is one of the more exciting upcoming vehicle features for those who are connected. Vehicles becoming Wi-Fi hotspots is the way of the future. More and more vehicles are offering this connectivity. Where this is heading is to allow inter-vehicle communications on the fly. Imagine being able to let another driver know that their tire appears flat, simply by talking to your car. This communication also allows for vehicles that can avoid accidents all on their own.
The Biggest Upcoming Vehicle Features
There was a time when electric cars seemed to be a fad. Nowadays, nearly every auto manufacturer offers a hybrid model vehicle, with some manufacturers opting for full electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have gone from sci-fi fad to modern-day supercar. So what’s next for vehicles?
The Self Driving Car – The last bastion of traditional driving is the driver themselves. Currently, drivers still have to put their foot to a pedal and their hands to the wheel, but that will soon change. By combining other upcoming vehicle features, like sensors, cameras, and battery power, vehicles are being produced that can drive themselves. Everything from merging, driving, parking and navigating a complex city can be handled by the car, with little to no input from the driver. There is still plenty of logistics to work out before we start seeing these on the road, but corporations like Google continue to make advancements that mean soon we’ll be able to get in our car, sit back and relax, and end up at our destination.
Upcoming Vehicle Features – Eyes On The Future
Many consider a rear wheel drive, V6 or V8 turbocharged engine, powered through a manual transmission, with no distractions or information being pushed into your face to be driving perfection. Those people aren’t wrong, but the future is leaning towards a different path. Electric motors require no transmission, offer no rumble or noise, and are normally attached to vehicles with screens and information galore. While many embrace the upcoming blend of hi-tech and driving, there will always be holdouts. If new technology can help prevent harm to others, or help reduce costs while driving, it will be embraced quickly. As for the rest, only time will tell.
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