Futurists, filmmakers, and inventors predict very different future scenarios – from gloomy cyberpunk to colorful utopia. The Indianapolis car connoisseurs from Indy Auto Man decided to look at this issue from a practical point of view and tell what cars US motorists will drive soon.
Most car brands discuss ambitious plans to phase out petroleum products in a decade. Zero-emission vehicles have already been demonstrating their advantages in fuel economy and ecology.
Norway plans to ban the sale of cars with petrol and diesel engines in 2025. Volvo, Ford, and Bentley have pledged to sell only electric vehicles from 2030.
At the same time, Volkswagen plans to produce more than a million electric cars annually. They also have set a performance goal: a range of up to 300 miles, charging by 80% in 15 minutes, or a quick battery change.
However, on the way to the cars of the future, there is an obstacle. Renewable energy sources now account for 35-40% of total electricity generation. If the trend continues, electric cars will increase the load on coal, gas, and oil-fired power plants, which remain the most common.
There are more exotic ways to solve environmental problems. Japan is actively testing hydrogen-powered cars, Germany is producing biodiesel from rapeseed oil, and Brazil is converting cars to ethanol from sugar cane.
Automation of all transport
Tesla is already making the cars of the future. You can give them an address, and they will take you to the desired point in the shortest way. There are many promos where the car passengers sleep in the front seats during the journey and wake up a couple of miles from their destination. Tesla electric vehicles can accelerate, brake, and obey speed limits autonomously.
Of course, today, manufacturers strongly recommend constant monitoring of the traffic situation. However, in the future, autopilots are highly likely to become the norm. Progress in the field of artificial intelligence may completely replace manual control and reduce the number of accidents, prevent traffic jams, help maintain optimal speed, give priority to emergency services and reduce crime. But those who like to drive the car the old-fashioned way will have to be content with private territories and racing tracks. Futurists suggest that by 2050 manual control will be banned.
In three dimensions
Traffic jams have become so severe that every resident of a big city like Indianapolis dreams of flying transport. Prototypes already exist: single-seat taxis, similar to huge quadrocopters, are already being tested in China and Japan. But they are far from commercial success – as long as they stand like helicopters and the cruising range does not exceed 60 miles.
Experts suggest that flying cars may appear no earlier than 2040. Surely, they will already be deprived of manual control. Initially, such vehicles will become an expensive analog of a taxi, and the road to the mass market may be open to them only in 2050-2070. Jet engines and atomic drives, described in science fiction, can not be expected – in cities, they will only be allowed to use electricity.
Artificial intelligence and augmented reality
AI is a matter of the near future. Apple promises to introduce an electric car in 2022-2024. Insiders claim that it may also have the Siri voice assistant, known to iPhone users. And this means that the machine will be able to understand your verbal commands. It will be possible to plot a route, choose a microclimate, and set the speed without any movements. Apple is a trend maker in many fields, so future vehicles from other manufacturers will also have voice assistants.
Another future car development area is augmented reality. Even today, in the safest modern cars, cameras can already monitor traffic conditions, while the projector shows the image on the windshield. AI highlights potential dangers, such as running out pedestrians, debris on the road, inept drivers, etc. Augmented reality also shows the direction of the turn, reminds the driver to change lanes, and provides other handy tips. Mass AI adoption in cars can be expected already by 2025.
Audi has already made the first steps in car subscription. The MMI digital vehicle management system has locked functions. To access them, you will have to pay extra – buy unlimited time or subscribe for a month.
Such a financial model is profitable for manufacturers, so it will certainly become popular. By 2040-2050, we may be in a world of standardized machines. You will have to pay extra for changing colors, increasing engine power, improving the multimedia system, and activating additional functions.
Developing the idea, experts can assume that the car of the future will be public – like a modern car-sharing transport. The drivers will subscribe using a smartphone or other smart gadget. When they get into the nearest car, it will automatically adapt to their needs and financial possibilities.
What May the Cars of the Future Lose?
- Sun visors. The cars may be equipped with liquid crystal glasses which can darken automatically.
- Radio, navigator, and dashboard. All information will be transmitted directly to the driver’s smartphone.
- Buttons on the center console. Tesla already replaces them with a large touchpad, and other brands may follow the example soon.
- Mechanical transmissions. Most modern cars already have automatic transmissions. Manual shifting turns out less fuel efficient and requires more resources in production.
- Protruding hoods and trunks. The traffic becomes denser, so every inch should be used efficiently. Vehicle design switches to more smooth lines and may turn into capsules on wheels soon.
- Pneumatic tires. Inflatable bladders will give way to new puncture-resistant elastic polymers.
- First aid kit. Cars may receive automatic emergency systems to disinfect wounds, put out fires, and call emergency services.
These assumptions are based on current automobile trends. It is quite possible that, in the coming years, humanity will make a colossal technological breakthrough, and the cars of the future will look very different. But in 2023, these forecasts look like a realistic direction of auto transport development.