When asked to picture what the future of cars might look like, you would probably describe them as being these high tech capsules that can drive themselves around and have an interior experience focused around convenience, entertainment, and comfort. Something similar to what you may find in those futuristic concept cars on auto show floors or in a science-fiction film. While this may sound like something that won’t be available until years, if not decades from now, you may actually be surprised to find out that a lot of these ideas behind a “futuristic” car actually exist right now on today’s market!
Let’s start off discussing the most obvious culprit among modern day “futuristic” vehicles: Tesla. If you are reading this article, you probably know that Teslas are already extremely advanced and have features that allow it to drive itself down the freeway with no driver input. But what you probably didn’t know is the full extent of the capabilities of the Tesla autopilot system.
For example, not only can these cars drive themselves for the most part with you behind the wheel, but they are also advanced enough to do so without your presence in the car. This has allowed Tesla to engineer some crazy features into their vehicles including a summon feature which can automatically open a garage door, pull your car out, and leave it on the driveway with the AC running so that when you leave your house for work, your car is ready to go. And this feature can be synced to your calendar so it will work automatically! Tesla is even engineering a feature that will allow you to have your car drive you to work, then you can get out and walk in and the car will look for a spot, park itself, and then lock and turn itself off, as you can see in the video below!
To make things even more crazy and futuristic, Tesla had to go a step further and throw in some awesome geeky tricks into their vehicles such as auto opening and closing doors on the Model X and air vents that are controlled from a massive 15” touchscreen in their Model 3.
Tesla isn’t the only one developing self driving technology into their vehicles either. Mercedes and Volvo also have been implementing similar technology into their newer line of cars and SUV’s. Even Uber has been developing a fleet of autonomous vehicles that can pick up passengers and bring them to their destinations. Since I happen to attend university in Pittsburgh, PA where Uber has placed one of their larger fleets of these self driving vehicles, I’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to actually speak to an engineer about these self driving SUV’s and also get to sit in one and take a look at the tech that powers these cars and let me say, it is pretty damn cool! From over two dozen different cameras, radar sensors, and LiDAR laser modules, the car is able to accurately create a 3D model of it’s environment and then process all the data through a high powered desktop grade computer in the trunk in order to make decisions on how it should act. And this all happens over a thousand times a second!
While self driving cars are cool and definitely embody the idea of a futuristic car, that definitely isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. See, for a car to feel truly futuristic, it also has to have that sense of comfort, convenience, and entertainment that I mentioned before. Finally, these aspects of futuristic cars are being addressed at this year’s consumer electronics show (CES for short). CES is the worlds largest consumer electronics convention, showcasing the latest technological breakthroughs and innovations within the tech industry. At this year’s 2018 CES event in Las Vegas, lots of new innovations were shown off in this “futuristic car” area. Byton, a new electric car manufacturer, introduced their latest concept EV which featured a futuristic interior covered in in luxurious materials and digital displays. It also featured front seats that can turn slightly to face each other so that the passengers can talk to each other while the car drives itself to it’s destination! And this car isn’t just a fancy rendering or digital mock-up. Byton had a fully functioning unit at CES which it let the press take test rides in, as seen in the video below.
Also at this event, Mercedes showed off their new Smart Vision EQ Concept. This car was engineered from the ground up to keep the comfort of the passengers in mind. It features a large center display and no driver controls, since it will be fully autonomous of course. This screen can display your social feeds, videos, and other forms of entertainment to the passengers while the vehicle transports you to your destination. Mercedes also had an operating version of these vehicles at CES which you can take a look at here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5_d6eeDADo.
All in all, it is clear that the level of technology and comfort within modern day vehicles have become immensely greater than they have ever been in the past. Nowadays, self driving cars with loads of geeky features and high levels of entertainment and luxury are relatively common, and are only becoming more and more mainstream by the hour. I think it’s finally safe to say that the “car of the future” is actually here today.
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