The first automobile was created in 1885 by Karl Benz, a German engineer. Automobiles have changed drastically since this first model was introduced. From the seat belt to the electric motor, innovative technologies have led to significant improvements in the design, efficiency, and performance of modern vehicles.
Most vehicles on the road today are loaded with advanced technologies and incredible features that make the driving experience safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable for consumers. These vehicles may not fly in the air like those seen on The Jetsons, but they are built with futuristic, imaginative features. Here are 8 exciting features found on real futuristic cars:
Some vehicles are designed with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. This sophisticated technology allows vehicles to send and receive information to and from one another up to 10 times per second. Sharing information in this manner can help warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations ahead.
For example, say a driver approaches an intersection where the visibility is limited. The driver may not see any cars coming due to this limited visibility, but the vehicle may be able to use this technology to detect another car that is quickly approaching the intersection. As a result, the V2V system can warn the driver to wait for this car to pass before traveling through the intersection. In other words, the system can warn the driver about a vehicle that isn’t even visible to them yet.
This technology has the potential to make the roads much safer. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V communication technology could prevent over 600,000 accidents per year.
A number of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, and Volvo, sell vehicles with built-in driver monitoring systems. Each of these systems is unique, but in general, they are designed to monitor the driver’s behavior to look for signs that the driver could be putting themselves in danger.
For example, the Subaru DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System (DMS) uses a camera located in the dashboard to track the driver’s head and eye movements. If the driver takes their eyes off of the road for more than three seconds, the system will issue a visual and audible warning telling them to focus. If the driver does not heed this warning, the system will begin to slow the vehicle down until it has come to a complete stop. The system will also call for emergency help if the driver remains unresponsive after these warnings.
Some Mercedes-Benz models are designed with a driver monitoring system that looks for signs of drowsy driving. If the system believes the driver is tired, it will suggest that the driver pull over and take a break before getting back on the road.
Systems like these are designed to make the roads safer by reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving and drowsy driving.
Traffic Sign Recognition
Many real futuristic cars on the market today are built with traffic sign recognition systems. These systems use front-mounted cameras to scan the vehicle’s surroundings for traffic signs such as speed limit signs, stop signs, merge signs, and more. If the system detects a traffic sign, it will display the information directly in front of the driver in their digital instrument panel.
These systems keep drivers informed of the changing rules of the road, which can help them avoid tickets and traffic accidents. For example, if a driver is traveling in an area they aren’t familiar with, they may not realize that the speed limit changes frequently. They may not even see the speed limit signs if they are traveling at night.
However, if they are driving a car with traffic sign recognition, the system will display speed limit signs on the driver’s instrument panel to let the driver know what speed they should be traveling at all times.
Augmented Reality Heads-Up Displays
Augmented reality heads-up displays (HUDs) are fairly new, but they are becoming increasingly popular. HUDs are systems that use augmented reality technology to project important information onto the windshield or a specially designed panel located underneath the windshield. The information that is displayed is only visible to the driver and will not affect the driver’s visibility.
These systems are used to keep drivers informed of their surroundings and their driving habits. For example, a HUD may project blind spot warnings to tell the driver when someone is traveling alongside them. A HUD may also alert the driver that they are running low on gas and need to find a gas station. Some HUDs are built with traffic sign recognition technology, which means traffic signs that are detected are displayed directly on the driver’s windshield.
HUDs provide the driver with all of the information they need to stay safe as they travel to their final destination. Because the information is displayed in such a visible spot, the driver won’t need to look down or take their eyes off of the road to access it.
Some drivers find it very difficult to safely park their vehicle, especially in situations that involve parallel parking. Fortunately, automotive manufacturers now sell vehicles with built-in automatic parking systems.
The BMW 7 Series is designed with Parking Assistant Plus, which helps with parallel and perpendicular parking. The system uses sensors to scan the vehicle’s surroundings for available parking spots. Once the system finds a spot, the driver must turn on the Parking Assistant Plus system by pushing a button on the dashboard.
Holding this button down allows the system to take control over the vehicle’s accelerator, brakes, and steering so it can safely maneuver into the parking space. All the driver needs to do is hold the button down until their vehicle is safely in the space.
Not all parking systems are this advanced, though. Some automatic parking systems will simply provide the driver with step-by-step instructions on how to park in a space. For instance, these systems will tell the driver when to apply the brakes and which direction to turn the steering wheel.
Many vehicles on the road today are designed with in-car WiFi to help passengers stay connected at all times. Some of the vehicles with this feature include the Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Dart, Audi A3, and Mercedes-Benz C Class.
The number of devices that can connect to in-car WiFi will vary depending on the model. The Chevrolet Cruze, for example, allows you to connect up to seven devices to the in-car WiFi. However, up to 10 devices can connect to the Chrysler 200’s in-car WiFi.
Even though the internet speed won’t be as fast as it is at home, in-car WiFi allows passengers to surf the web, watch videos, respond to emails, and more without eating into their limited data plan.
Most vehicles that are designed with in-car WiFi offer consumers a free trial period to test out this feature. Then, consumers must pay a small monthly fee in order to continue accessing their in-car WiFi.
Being able to charge your phone while driving is not new. In the past, you could charge your phone by connecting your charger to your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter charging port. But this only worked if you remembered to bring your charger with you on your trip.
Now, however, consumers don’t need to carry around these cords to charge their phones while driving. This is because many vehicles are now designed with wireless chargers installed directly in the center console or within the dashboard. All you need to do to charge your phone is place it on one of these wireless chargers. There’s no need to connect it to a charging port–it simply needs to lay flat on the wireless charging pad.
These chargers aren’t as efficient as standard chargers, though. In fact, if your phone has a thick, protective case, you may need to remove it before using the wireless charging pad. But despite this, the addition of a wireless charging pad has made traveling by car more convenient.
Enhanced Navigation Systems
It’s much easier for drivers to get where they need to go thanks to the enhanced navigation systems found in many of today’s vehicles. Unlike older systems, today’s navigation systems provide drivers with a wealth of information as they travel to their final destination.
These systems are designed to provide turn-by-turn directions, speed limits, and traffic warnings. Some systems are even capable of re-routing the driver if a traffic accident or traffic jam is detected ahead.
Today’s navigation systems also tell drivers more about their surroundings, including where to go to find electric car chargers, gas stations, and rest stops. Because these systems provide so much information, there’s no need for the driver to take their eyes off of the road to look something up on their phone.
These are some of the many exciting features that are found in today’s real futuristic cars, but there’s no telling what cars of the future will look like. Because the automotive industry is constantly evolving, it’s safe to say that manufacturers will continue to come up with new and creative ways to improve vehicles even further in the future.