By: John Miller Lynn Beckwith The cars of today are capable of things we didn’t even dream of 20 years ago; what will the cars of the future be able to do? These are a few of the things the Auto Mojo Gang has come across as future technology ideas.
Car to car communications
The use of a car to car connections to relay essential data such as speed, acceleration, and deceleration between vehicles could eliminate one of the biggest causes of traffic congestion, the caterpillar effect. We have all seen the caterpillar at stop lights and in bumper to bumper traffic. One car goes, then, after a slight hesitation the next and so on; but what if they all went at the same instant? C2C would accelerate every car in the line at the moment the light turned green. C2C would be able to alert your car if there was a stall or accident ahead, warn of an erratic driver nearby, or contact help if you needed it. Some C2C is already in the development stages. A large segment of the cars on the road today already have either wireless internet systems or some other form of communications to share data with the manufacturer. The cars of the future may have a secure dedicated network made up of all the cars within range could instantly share information that would, in turn, be processed by the onboard systems to control the vehicle. These autonomous systems could be designed to only engage in high-density traffic areas. The effect on traffic flow would be remarkable.
Uninsured, unlicensed, or unauthorized drivers are a hazard to everyone on the highway. Estimates have 20% of drivers doing so without insurance or with no, or a suspended license. The future car will be able to identify the driver through biometric data. The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe already uses fingerprint sensors to unlock and start. This sensor data could be transmitted via the onboard hot spot to a central database for verification of the current license and insurance status of the driver and block an unauthorized person from operating the cars of the future This data is already available to law enforcement, often by a hand-held scanner. An officer scans the bar code on the windshield registration sticker and quickly knows the vehicle’s owner, if they have insurance on the car, and if there are any outstanding warrants for the owner. If a person with outstanding criminal warrants was identified trying to start a Car the police could be notified of their location. It would even be possible to prevent deadbeats, parents behind on their child support obligations, from driving. The system would require all drivers to submit fingerprints to the DMV for the database, and there may be resistance to this from segments of society.
Enforced traffic safety
Autonomous vehicles will obey the law, but it will be a long time before a fully automated fleet is on the highway. Most new cars sold today have at least some semi-autonomous driving ability. The next step may be a slight increase in the level of self-driving features so are more involved in the routine commute. The cars of the future may enforce speed limits, even those temporary limit signs in construction zones using traffic sign recognition, available on many models now. As cameras and sensors detect stop signs or red lights, the brakes may apply lightly to encourage the driver to obey. School zones, children at play areas, or residential neighborhoods may incorporate special transmitters into the signage to electronically limit speed, giving drivers no choice but to slow down. There would have to be an allowance for emergency use and usual driving exceptions such as passing traffic, although passing could be restricted if there is a double line in the lane. An alternative to direct interference with the driver’s independence behind the wheel could be a financial wedge to promote safe driving. Cars today constantly monitor driving patterns. The airbag module, the “Black Box” of vehicles, records data that is available to law enforcement after an accident. Driving data could be transmitted to a central collection point through the onboard WiFi system and later made available to insurance companies to adjust premium rates based on proven habits of the operator. This is similar to what health insurance companies do today when they obtain medical records before issuing coverage. A high-risk pool could be available for those who choose to ignore safe driving practices.
Immersive driving experience
Fantastic progress has been made in glass technology. A clear window can instantly turn opaque or can display a high-quality video image. Heads Up Display has been available for some time but depended on a projected image. Smart glass works much like an LED television with the image electronically transmitted into the transparent surface. Once fully self-piloting vehicles are available, there would be little sense in watching the same scenery go by every day as you commute to work. The windows of your car, all of them, could provide a 360 degree hi definition image. Drive through the Alps as you cruise freeway to the office, watch the latest Rom-com or Scifi adventure or video conference with co-workers making the trip a productive part of your day.
In car adverting
Audi is experimenting with app-style features on their in-car infotainment. The smartphone-style practice allows users to opt into apps at a low monthly fee, turning them on and off as needed. These may even include safety features like blind-spot monitors, parking assist or semi-autonomous driving. Much like the smartphone practice, these low-cost features may come with commercial advertising that you could turn off by subscribing to a higher level of the software. The pervasive advertising we see today on our browsers and social media that targets ads based on our past searches or use will find its way into our vehicles in the future. If you recently looked up flowers for a loved one your onboard navigation might direct you to a participating florist along your route. I can only guess where it would lead you if you surfed porn last night. Hopefully, there will be ways to buy or opt out of such intrusive behavior. Of course, it will be years before any of these far fetched ideas could become standard fare on our highways. The rising cost of automobiles has encouraged motorist to keep cars longer, pushing the average age of the American fleet up. If all this technology became available tomorrow, it would still take about 12 years before the average car in the fleet was equipped with it. And, it would still have to work 12 years from now. That may be expecting too much as these cars age and move down to second and third owners of less economic success
Will a Nanny Car be accepted by the motorist?
The American public seems to be willing to live with the intrusions of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook with few qualms. We embrace technology that makes our lives simpler, safer and more entertaining, and have become desensitized to loss of privacy. So yes, we will accept the gradual implementation of technology cars that reduces our control behind the wheel.