Self-driving cars, eye recognition and robo-dust
Here at Citygate, we can’t wait for the future. That’s partly because we’re hoping scientists are going to nail jetpacks soon, and partly because smart fridges are on the verge of becoming a thing. But mostly, it’s because cars are going to get cleverer, greener, and safer. So in the interests of getting you as excited as we are, here are our top five innovations from those halcyon days of 2018-2025.
Boringly, the squares in the UK government currently insist that all cars are driven by people. But since someone pointed out the potential safety benefits of putting millions of perfect, bionic drivers on the road, they’re now encouraging heavy investment in driverless technology. Most experts think we’ll have fully autonomous cars on rural roads by 2020 – so you’ll be able to sit there doing important things like scrolling through Facebook.
The future is all about connecting things that you didn’t know needed connecting. Your toaster? Connected. Your backpack? Connected. Your mum? Probably still not that connected actually. But the point stands – almost everything is going to be internet-enabled. Cars are no exception, and lots of manufacturers already have apps that share diagnostic info, location data, and other helpful titbits with you. VW Connect is a good example; it records all your drives from start to finish, together with the time, duration, route taken and even cost per journey. All so you can plan and budget better for your driving.
This is where everything starts getting a bit iRobot. Picture the scene – you’re Will Smith, speeding away from robots or whatever*, and you can’t find your way to the secret, robot-proof base. Recognising your distress, your car starts highlighting the correct turn for you using Head-Up Display (HUD) technology. Now you know exactly where you’re going, you can leave the stupid robots eating robo-dust. As well as directions, the HUD technology of the future will be able to play movies, and even show you menus from the restaurants you pass by. If you use that stuff in conjunction with self-driving technology, every trip will be like a cosy night in.
Technology really comes into its own when it starts covering up for our mistakes. Driver Override systems are already a fairly common feature in new generation cars, but in the future they’ll be as standard as seatbelts. Cars fitted with DoS will be able to sense if you’re unwell or if you’ve fallen asleep, and take over control of the car – driving you safely to the side of the road. Similar technology is already available as an option in VWs: their City-Emergency Breaking system will break for you if you fail to react in time**.
Searching for your car key when you’re already ten minutes late is one of life’s most stressful tasks. So it comes as welcome news that in the future, you won’t have to do that anymore. Instead, you’ll only need your fingerprint or your eyeball – and if you’ve misplaced either of those on a Monday morning then you have bigger things to worry about.
So there we have it: those are the top five things the future has to offer. We hope you agree it’s going to be just like the present, except way better. And even if scientists never perfect jetpacks, we’ll have more than enough car technology to make up for it.
From the 13th of November, we’ll be holding Tech-fest – a five-day exploration of the future of car technology. Guest speakers will include the BBC Technology reporter Zoe Kleinman. If you’re interested, just let us know here.
*As you can probably tell, nobody in our office has seen iRobot.
**At speeds under 18mph, City Emergency Braking uses a laser sensor to detect the risk of an impending collision and automatically primes the brakes to make them more sensitive. If the driver does not brake and a collision is imminent then the system applies them automatically.