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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 |

Potential Features for Cars of the Future

A lot of us have different ideas about what the future is going to look like. If you would have asked people in 1961 what the world would look like in 50 years, they’d have probably said something about flying cars, jet packs, supercomputers, and chrome. Lots and lots of chrome.

I’m afraid we’ve let ourselves down in some of those different aspects. However, the future of the auto industry does have some particularly interesting types of technology that are currently in the earliest stages of development. Some of these arise out of current economic concerns, while others are simply taking the next step in technological innovation.

I thought it might be fun to take a look into the future. So without further ado, here are some of the more fascinating auto concepts that might come to fruition in the next decade, and have a major impact on your driving and financial life:

  • Alternative energy vehicles. Obviously there is currently a lot of concern about fossil fuel levels around the world, and oil prices continue to rise. As this happens, more research is being put into vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, compressed air and even liquid nitrogen. There are some current fully electric vehicles (like the Chevy Volt or the Nissan LEAF), but there are still very few people who own these. Will they become more popular as gas prices soar?
  • Regenerative braking. When you use regular breaks, all of the kinetic energy lost is converted to thermal energy, which comes out as heat. The regenerative braking concept would aim to store some of this kinetic energy for future use, or use it as backup power.
  • Driverless cars. Yes, you read that correctly. Some companies (including Google, surprisingly) are looking into driverless (or autonomous) vehicles. They would aim to create fewer crashes, increased roadway capacity, less parking stress (cars would drop passengers off) and simple relief of the chore of driving, among other benefits. With driverless cars, one would also pay less in insurance and fuel costs. Crazy.
  • Water-repellent glass. This type of glass is coated by a special chemical that disperses water as it hits the glass. In its best form, this would render windshield wipers obsolete. No more having to pay to replace your wipers!
  • Hovercrafts. OK, I was just getting your hopes up with this one. But you never know, right?

These are just a few of the more reputable technologies currently being researched by auto developers. We can never be truly sure of what the future will look like, but these few examples would indicate that we’re looking at a more energy-efficient, consumer-friendly future in the auto market.

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