What is the future of smart cars?
Smart cars have been on our minds since the flying cars in the Jetsons. However, it’s only recently that we’ve seen huge advances in technology. The future of intelligent vehicles is green and rich in innovation. It’s just a matter of how long we’ll have to wait for a truly affordable solution.
- Earlier this year, a drunk driver used Tesla’s autopilot as an explanation for his driving.
- Although it’s always been a sci-fi fantasy, flying cars may be a reality in our lifetime.
- Norway is leading the way for green driving. By 2025, 100% of cars sold should be zero emissions.
The future is here
We may not have flying cars as predicted in the Jetsons, but the vehicles on our roads are getting better and better every year. The first hybrid car actually debuted in 1900 with the Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil. The foul-smelling combustion engine just didn’t cut it, though. When the Prius was released in 1997, we all but lost our minds considering the possibilities of an eco-friendly vehicle.
Now, in 2018, we’re seeing advances we could never have imagined. From Tesla to BYTON, intelligent and eco-friendly vehicles are the latest technological frontier.
Although plenty of car companies are producing their own version, everyone has heard of Tesla because the brand has dominated the electric car space. Elon Musk is doing everything possible to make the vehicles accessible and affordable to consumers. However, that process is moving slowly as the cheapest Tesla, the Model 3, comes in at a daunting $35,000. This is hardly affordable to most and certainly a luxury vehicle.
BYTON, much lesser known, is trying to expand this space. The brand says it’s more than a car and actually a next-generation smart device. It sports Wi-Fi connectivity, impressive bandwidth, and encryption for your data. In addition, it’s thoughtfully aerodynamic and fully electric. Although the BYTON is still only a concept, the innovation is certainly there.
Although both Tesla and BYTON are combining eco-friendliness with technology, there are dozens of new technologies that we may see in the future of intelligent vehicles:
- 360-degree Cameras: Covering all of your surroundings, they could detect objects to help you prevent accidents. Add in some night vision, and you’d be totally aware any time of day.
- Pedestrian Sensors: Likewise, built-in sensors could be able to detect and identify humans as opposed to inanimate objects. The sensors could be smart enough to detect humans that are about to cross the road and initiate braking.
- Communication: Beyond OnStar, drivers may be able to communicate with each other seamlessly. This could help with traffic, accident warnings, and, at its basic, provide super a convenient form of communication.
- Apps: Smart cars might be able to function much like smartphones. Depending on the operating system, you could access all of your favorite apps on a touchscreen.
- Exotic Materials: Drivers may soon be able to deck out their vehicles with materials such as lightweight carbon fiber.
Do humans deserve smart cars?
Just like any new invention or innovation, the real test is when it goes into the hands of the consumer. All it takes are a few news articles and a dash of an FBI public service announcement to deter any buyers.
For example, a Tesla driver recently claimed that he used the car’s autopilot feature to get himself home after a night of drinking. However, California Highway Patrol found him randomly stopped on the Bay Bridge with an extremely high BAC. Suffice to say, he’s being appropriately charged for driving under the influence and the Tesla is getting off scot-free.
Just about everyone has the same concerns over a smart car as they do smart anything: hackability. Of course, as a rule of thumb, anything that is connected is technically hackable. Wired writer Andy Greenberg let hackers take over his Jeep Cherokee and experienced everything from errant air conditioning to blaring Kanye to near immobilization on the highway. Even the FBI issued a PSA regarding the exploitation of smart cars.
Smart cities for our smart cars
There are certainly advantages to having a smart car. However, beyond apps and connectivity, the cars of the future will also connect with the cities of the future. CES 2018 revealed smart cities as a huge trend with a number of big brands getting in on the action. In order to function, the technology of our cars and our cities needs to be in sync.
- Ford debuted the Transportation Mobility Cloud to help urban transportation systems speak the same language for optimal efficiency. Applications include self-driving cars rerouting due to traffic and finding ride-sharing opportunities.
- AT&T revealed a 5G network to help monitor everything from traffic to air quality. The sensors extend their ability to also detect issues in large structures to keep the entire city safe. It’s scheduled to go live at the end of 2018.
- Bosch is developing smart sensors to monitor rivers and detect floods. As a result, drivers can be rerouted and avoid traffic and accidents. Likewise, they’re developing a community-based parking system. Coming to 20 cities throughout the year, your days of searching for the right sized spot may be over.
- Intelligent cities are growing the number of electric car charging stations. ChargeHub lets you find the closest ones to you (or anywhere in the US and Canada).
- Even our street lights are getting an upgrade. Wi-Fiber created energy-efficient LED bulbs that also work to communicate emergencies. The lights can also upgrade to include a 4K security camera, microphone, and gunshot sensors to keep cities safer.
Are we headed towards a smarter and greener future?
Before you drop $35k on a Tesla, consider the current climate of smart and eco-friendly vehicles. In Norway, they certainly are headed that way. In fact, over half of all newly manufactured vehicles are electric or hybrid. They have a goal of 100% electric car systems by 2025. With everything we’ve seen, this goal will be easy to reach.
It’s clear that the future of smart cars is anything but predictable. Designers and engineers are learning from other industries to bring technology to our wheels. Hopefully, with initiatives like those in Norway, streamlining these cars will also bring down the price. But, only time will tell.
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