Cars of the future: how technology is changing the way we drive

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There’s lots out there about how automotive companies are looking at new ways to fuel cars and how they’re making them more environmentally friendly but here are three other ways cars will change in the future.

Cars that talk back

Since the very first car accident way back in 1869 car manufacturers have been prompted by the public to improve the safety features of road vehicles. Seat belts were made compulsory for both drivers and passengers in 1991 and since 1997 car manufacturers have been prompted to introduce better safety features by The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). New models now go through rigorous testing.

The latest technology that NCAP have made standard is Electronic Stability Control (ESC) uses sensors to detect when a car begins to deviate from its path, like when sliding round corners. It follows in the footsteps of crash avoidance systems like anti-lock breaks. ESC helps to prevent skidding that causes up to 40% of car accidents.

The next step could be cars that tell us what’s wrong. But unlike K.I.T.T in Knight Rider they won’t just talk to us, they’ll also ‘talk’ to each other. Wireless communication could alert passing drivers to problems ahead like accidents and traffic jams.  Perhaps one day technological advances will spell the end of car insurance.

Vehicles that drive themselves

Since the early 1900s car companies have experimented with automating car speed-controls using mechanisms that restrict the accelerator cable. These days we call these systems cruise-control, they still leave the driver in control of the situation. With millions of new cars taking to British roads every year speed-related deaths are becoming more of an issue, in fact according to the Department for Transport on average 9 people will die on our roads every single day.

One idea that’s popular with campaigners is for all cars to have cruise control systems installed to stop vehicles breaking speed limits in certain areas, like outside schools for example. As well as saving lives it could also be used to save the billions of pounds that companies lose due to staff being trapped on congested roads.

Completely automatic models have been tested including the Google driverless car that has been tested on over 140,000 miles of public roads but the huge cost of the technology powering these vehicles makes them untenable for consumers to purchase.

Flying cars

What the kid in all of us really wants to know is when will we (like Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element) all be flying around in space cars? Hollywood script-writers certainly love the idea but in an environment with gravity is it a realistic concept for the near future?

Surprisingly there is already one vehicle out there that fits the bill. The SkyCar is hailed as the first usable road-legal flying automobile and back in 2009 it was tested on a 9000 km flight from London to Tombouctou. So why aren’t we all commuting by air?

The standard price is a not unreasonable (for a flying car) £55,320 but it’s not something you could park discretely outside work, it’s not really got room for 2.4 kids, you’d need both driving and flying licences presumably and not to mention the second generation models haven’t actually been released yet.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.