If you’re old enough, you probably remember watching science-fiction movies in the 80’s and 90’s that included some mind-blowing vehicle technology. Whether it was Marty McFly’s flying DeLorean in Back to the Future or the autonomous Pontiac Firebird KITT in Knight Rider, most people probably thought that there was no way they’d live to see them in real life.
But while we still probably have a long way to go before our sports cars are time machines, there’s plenty of technology that seems like it’s from the future that’s either already available or will be available in the next several years. Here is some of it:
1. Autonomous vehicles
Cars that are able to drive themselves are here now. Manufacturers like Tesla, GM, Waymo, and a host of others are in the advanced stages of development. Many of these cars are already being tested in different parts of the country and are like only a few years away from being available en masse. Some experts even argue that autonomous vehicles will fully replace driveable cars within the next few decades.
2. Parking assistance
The drivers of the future might never have to go through the hassle of parking ever again. Manufacturers including Tesla and BMW have developed self-parking technology, some of which don’t even require a driver to be in the car. This is likely to become a popular feature and will be a godsend to those of us who aren’t very good at parallel parking.
3. Windshield displays
The days of having to constantly look down at your dashboard are probably numbered as manufacturers have developed technology that projects displays onto your windshield. This will help drivers keep their eyes on the road when they have to check information like their speed or navigation to a destination. While these displays are currently limited to luxury vehicles, they’re likely to become a mainstream feature in a number of years.
4. Full smartphone integrations
These features are already widely available as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on over 600 vehicle models. With these features, you’re able to fully integrate your smartphone into your vehicle experience, accessing apps as needed, making calls through voice technology or having text messages read out loud to you. Many of us are hooked to our smartphones and this technology allows us to stay connected even while driving.
5. Driver health monitoring
While some vehicles currently have systems like OnStar in place to monitor when you get in an accident, technology is being developed that monitors the driver’s health and is able to alert for help or even safely shut the vehicle down if the driver experiences a medical emergency like a heart attack. Of course, there are consent and privacy issues to take into account, but we might see the mass adoption of driver-tracking technology sooner than later.
6. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication
The cars of the future won’t just communicate with their drivers, they’ll communicate with other cars and with road infrastructure too. This feature will increase safety and provide more information about a vehicle’s surroundings. For example, the Mercedes E-Class uses V2V communication to send information about traffic and weather conditions to other Mercedes vehicles. This type of communication is likely to be baked into many new vehicle models.
7. Driver override
Whether or not we fully make the transition into autonomous vehicles, the technology that overrides the driver in the name of safety already exists and is likely to increase in adoption. Almost all of the biggest car makers have committed to automatic emergency braking a standard feature. This means that even if you have your foot on the gas, the vehicle will brake if it senses immediate danger. While not all of us like the thought of not being in control of our cars, the technology of the future is likely to reduce accidents significantly, and when that happens, it’ll only become more and more popular.