Five technologies that will shape the cars of the future
By Josh Dean, Seth Fletcher, Seth Porges and Lawrence UlrichPosted 08.09.2012 at 12:12 pm 1 Comment
1. THE INTELLIGENT COCKPIT
When J.D. Power released its annual customer-satisfaction survey in June, the issue that most irked American car buyers was not wind noise, inadequate acceleration or anything else related to the actual process of driving. It was unsatisfactory voice recognition. Drivers now expect cars to be rolling information-technology bubbles, and automakers are remaking the driving experience accordingly.
Without a doubt, the best part of an auto show is the test drive — you can sink into the cushiony driver’s seat, behold the beautiful control panel, feel the steering wheel slip comfortably between your fingers. At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, that won’t happen. Test drivers will sit in the back seat of an autonomous Prius, letting the car drive them around by itself. It’ll probably be worth the back seat view.
Vehicle-to-vehicle technology is about to get its first major real-world test in the U.S. The Department of Transportation awarded $14.9 million to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute last month, and the university is already moving forward with a plan to put 3,000 short-range radio equipped cars on the road in Ann Arbor over the next couple of years.
A German car nicknamed "heavy drinker" or “boozer” has set a new record for electric vehicle stamina: 1,013 miles on a single charge. The single-seat vehicle’s aerodynamic shape, with the motors integrated into the wheel hubs, helped the car accomplish this feat.
Lawmakers in Nevada made a pretty forward-thinking move a couple weeks ago when they passed a measure ordering new regulations for driverless cars. Many vehicles already participate in once-human-driven activities like parking and skid control, and it’s not long until they’ll be able to navigate, make decisions and drive totally by themselves.
When self-communicating connected cars start appearing on roadways, what will it be like for the humans? Will we tolerate our cars talking behind our backs, deciding when to swerve or apply the brakes? The U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting some test drive clinics to help people prepare. Test drives on racetracks!
A new Web site and smartphone app connect license plates with an e-mail address, allowing businesses to track customers, drivers to connect with each other, and road rage to reach new heights. In doing so, Bump.com, which launched this week, throws open the doors of one of this country's last private places: Your car.
The site aims to bring social media connectivity to the road, even for cars that don't come with Wi-Fi. "We're right next to each other on the highway, but we have no way to communicate, connect, and network," as Bump's Web site explains.
A system of self-organizing traffic lights could reduce congestion, according to European researchers. The key is allowing lights to switch from green to red in a decentralized, chaotic way, instead of following a regular programmed pattern.