What will we be driving in 2100 A.D. ?

March 29, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

We live in a world where technology is developing at an exponential rate. Once upon a time gadgets and their designs would last years without appearing dated or out-of-fashion, but now we’re lucky if our technology is still relevant 2 years after purchase.
However, one area where development has been relatively slow over the years is the automotive industry. Cars have undoubtedly come a long way since Karl Benz invented the three-wheeled car in 1885, but it feels as if they are still nowhere near reaching their full potential. In the early 20th century we were sure that everyone would have their own flying car by the year 2000… how wrong we were.

So, now we are well into the 21st century let’s make some fresh predictions on how cars will be by the year 2100.

Driverless Cars

What’s the most dangerous component in every car journey? … The driver! We humans aren’t very reliable when it comes to driving. We get distracted easily, we tire quickly and we make un-predictable sudden movements – all of which lead to road accidents. The world health organisation says car accidents account for 1.2million deaths a year. Yikes! That’s why cars that are safely controlled by computers will undoubtedly become a reality later this century.

Google have already been silently working away on a driverless car for the last 10 years and they claim to have clocked over 1000 miles driving their car without human assistance. The car uses multiple cameras and sensors to track the vehicles location and identify hazards. Google are so far down the line with this technology that they are even pushing for the state of Nevada to create laws that allow the legal use of driverless vehicles.

Similarly, Heathrow Airport launched their driverless shuttle pods in the summer of 2011. These vehicles operate on a specially designed magnetic road which guides the vehicle to its destination without any human assistance. Cars that drive themselves were once the stuff of sci-fi films such as Minority Report and iRobot, but it now looks as if they may become a reality in the coming years.

Alternative Fuels

Fossil fuels are in high demand and low supply. While many may argue over the effect of fossil fuels on the environment, there’s absolutely no doubt that we need to find a more sustainable fuel source before our current fuels run out. The 21st century has seen the electric car come into prominence as we attempt to move away from petrol and diesel. However, the electric car has one major downfall – even the best electric cars can only travel 100 miles between charges, meaning it’s not very practical for people who drive a lot.

The fact that it needs charging also means that if you break down in the middle of the road it’s not simply a case of filling it up with a petrol canister and continuing your journey. No – you’ll need to be towed away to the nearest recharge point. This will certainly be very pricey. Another realistic option is Hydrogen fuel cells that convert hydrogen into energy. Several car manufacturers have already begun incorporating hydrogen fuel cells into some of their vehicles. Hydrogen isn’t without its drawbacks though – Hydrogen itself has to be stored under intense pressure, making it extremely dangerous to keep in a car. In the event of a crash a damaged hydrogen cell would likely cause a large explosion. Add to that the fact that Hydrogen isn’t really very efficient and it becomes obvious that Hydrogen still has a long way to go before it becomes a realistic option for everyone to use.

Of course there is the classic option: Solar Energy. A car powered by solar energy would be entirely self-sufficient. It would use its solar panels to capture light which it then converts to electricity to charge its battery. Sounds perfect right? Well, it would be except for the fact that the solar panel needed to power a car would be about 5 times bigger than the car itself. Solar technology is still in its relevant infancy and until they can make the panels smaller and more efficient it’s unlikely that we will see those powering commercial cars any time soon. So, whilst many technologies are being developed to replace fossil fuels it’s still difficult to tell which will prevail. For now the fore-runners are Hydrogen, Solar, Electric and Bio-fuels. One thing is certain though, that we will not be using fossil fuel for cars in the year 2100.

Larger Mixed Purpose Vehicles

When vehicles become driverless our needs will change. The occupants will no longer need to be looking at the road and concentrating on driving any more. So whilst a cars primary function will be to get us from A to B, it will now also serve a 2nd purpose: to keep us comfortable during our journey. Recently car interiors have been re-designed with our comfort in mind. Plush leather chairs have replaced the cold plastic of yesteryear. Luxury cars come with televisions in the headrests, mobile phone charging ports, gaming systems and wireless connectivity for computers. And this is just the cars of the present.

In the future this concept will be taken a stage further. Cars of the future will provide us with desks and working spaces so that we can remain productive during our commute from our home to our workplace. All cars will be connected to the internet so that we control our homes from our vehicles: a flick of a switch will turn the heating on at your place ready for when you get back. You can tell the oven to turn on so that your meal is ready when you get back or tell your bath to run itself in preparation for a post-journey soak. Instead of feeling like we’re in a car, we simply feel as if we’re in an extension of our beloved house.

If cars become completely automated then there will undoubtedly be an increase in the number of people travelling through the night, therefore seats that can be re-arranged as a bed will become the norm. With this new focus on comfort it is almost a certainty that cars will become larger to accommodate our needs. Right now we are seeing a trend for small nifty cars that can squeeze through traffic and be easily parked. In the future we won’t be driving so we won’t need to worry about squeezing into tight spaces. Computer driving systems will communicate with each other to arrange cars in the most efficient parking rows, with the possibility of having a digitally assigned parking bay so that no other cars will take your spot.

Conclusion

Think all of this sounds far-fetched? Just take a look at the experimental Masdar city in Abu Dhabi. All cars in the city are driverless, controlled by magnets in the ground. They’re large and spacious and glide you to your destination with the simple touch of a button. Sensors in the car prevent collisions and best of all they release zero emissions. So, instead of flying cars, perhaps driverless, luxurious and environmentally friendly cars are a true glimpse into the future?

Author bio: This article was a guest post was written by Aaron Louis on behalf of Bristol Street Motors. Aaron is normally used to writing about cars of today, such as the used Vauxhall Astra or used nissan juke. However, his car expertise makes him the perfect candidate to predict future trends.


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