Top 5 Most Exciting Car Technologies of the Decade
While we don't have flying cars yet, there are definitely plenty of exciting vehicle technologies to look forward to in the future. With increasing concern for the environment and the demand for smarter vehicles that make our lives easier, automakers have experimented with unique ways to improve automobiles. Below are some exciting innovations in the auto industry that we can expect over the next decade.
- Improved alternative fuel options
Electric and hybrid vehicles are our current non-gas options. However, several new competitors face the next clean, cheap, and effective option for auto fuel.
Engineers and scientists have experimented with hydrogen-powered vehicles for the past few years, but several automakers have finally developed vehicles that can actually rely on this form of fuel. Few hydrogen-powered models are currently available in limited markets.
Cars using this alternative fuel will run on hydrogen gas. The gas is converted into electricity with water and heat as by-products. In this way, they are completely emission-free and therefore far safer for the planet than cars that run on gasoline and diesel.
Solar energy is another way to power cars in the future. It is one of the cleanest and most fully renewable energy sources available. Solar panels convert energy from sunlight into electricity. Vehicles powered by solar energy can drive at night and without direct sunlight, as long as sufficient solar energy is stored beforehand.
Solar powered vehicles are currently only available as prototypes and are not ready for everyday use. Engineers are still working on several kinks that make solar cars impractical, including the cost and weight of panels. In addition, only a certain amount of energy can be absorbed by existing solar modules. For most people, this amount of energy is not yet able to sustain a commute.
Another alternative fuel competitor is the solid-state battery. This battery is designed to replace the current lithium-ion battery used in electric vehicles. They are simpler, lighter, and don't have the same cooling requirements as lithium. Solid-state batteries have also been tested to last longer, charge faster, and are fireproof.
Today many cars are equipped with driver assistants. This function warns drivers if they are driving too close to an object, triggers automatic braking and takes over steering if the driver deviates too far from a lane. However, this is not fully automated driving.
At the moment, drivers still have to monitor automatic driving systems. Truly automated driving would not require a driver to intervene at all. This would allow greater numbers of people to have the comfort of a car even when they are unable to drive it themselves.
This type of automation would require improved vehicle intelligence and technology to accurately capture things like the speed of nearby vehicles, the distance to objects that are both near and far, and various hazards and obstacles on the road. Essentially, this type of vehicle needs to have a complete picture of everything at once and make the appropriate decision to keep passengers in the vehicle safe as well as vehicles nearby.
Some companies are working to perfect this system. Tesla and Google are two big names that are on the verge of mastering a fully self-driving vehicle. Self-driving cars are already on the road in California in Google's Waymo project. It is said that their inclusion should result in fewer vehicles and safer roads.
- Lighter and stronger materials
Material changes on vehicles have been slow, especially when it comes to replacing the steel, aluminum, magnesium and rubber that cars are primarily made of.
Just because cars aren't made out of coconut doesn't mean they shouldn't be. In fact, automakers are experimenting with using coconut shells in addition to carbon fiber, bamboo and aerogels in automotive materials.
Metal can become very heavy and weight becomes expensive. However, lighter natural materials reduce weight, can increase durability, and have recyclable properties that can reduce costs in many industries.
- Intelligent support in vehicles
Many of us may be used to giving commands to Siri and Google to play specific songs, text someone, or browse the internet while we drive. However, this type of digital assistant does not learn or adapt as well as an artificial intelligence personality could.
In the future, your vehicle may be able to learn about your driving habits and preferences and suggest alternative routes or switch to autonomous driving. It would also be able to recognize your facial features and emotions and make suggestions based on them.
Additionally, an intelligent vehicle assistant could potentially be used as an autonomous ridesharing vehicle when not in use: it would pick up and drop off passengers on-site without you actually driving. It could also decide to sell idle power back to the grid.
- Electric charging on the go
The amount of charging stations and the electricity needed to power an increasing number of EVs are obstacles to getting more and better EVs on the road. Charging stations are not available everywhere. As a result, long journeys are currently difficult, if not impossible, to do with an electric vehicle.
However, scientists believe that one solution to this problem is to charge cars while they are driving on the road.
With this method, electric vehicles run over induction coils that are on or under the road. The induction plate on the underside of the vehicle interacts with the coils and induces an electrical current to power the electrical battery. That way, EVs won't run out of power while on an induction street.
With this technology, electric vehicles can finally be optimally used. In other words, you can take your electric car on a trip without being severely limited to big cities.