Cars Can Do What Now? Automotive Innovations That Will Change Driving Forever
2016’s still close in the rearview mirror, but 2017 is already shaping up to be a big year for automotive innovations. We’re talking cars with hologram consoles, the sleekest driverless technology yet, and super-powerful artificial intelligence systems on co-pilot duty. It might sound like sci-fi, but these developments really are coming soon—and they’re about to change the way we drive…forever.
Luxury means never having to use a steering wheel. Image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.
By now, we know that driverless cars are on our doorstep. Specifically, reports say that we’ll have a whopping 10 million semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles on the roads by 2020.
Now that the technology is in place, the latest driverless car innovations are all about making your vehicle a comfortable (even luxurious) place to chill out. Like the new Rolls-Royce Vision 100 concept, which swaps a steering wheel and dashboard for an OLED TV and silk two-seater sofa. Or the Mercedes-Benz F 015, which envisions the driverless car as “a mobile living space.”
Your driverless car may feel more like a living room. (“Van cave,” anyone?) Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.
Of course, not everyone will be rolling in a Roller—and your apartment isn’t going obsolete just yet. But the passenger experience is about to change, big time (and not only because you’ll get to enjoy a bit more legroom).
Like teleportation and that crazy instant bread from The Force Awakens, in-car holograms sound like they belong to the realm of sci-fi. Not so. As of 2017, they also belong in BMWs under the mantle of “HoloActive Touch.” Debuted at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Showin early January, the futuristic system lets drivers interact with a virtual, free-floating display that’s operated by hand gestures. Is this what it feels like to use The Force?
SUPER-CHARGED ELECTRIC CARS
The future of electric is accelerating at lightning pace. Image courtesy of Faraday Future.
Carmakers of the future know that being green is a good thing—but few electric car producers have the style and revs of the anticipated Faraday Future FF 91. Unveiled at CES, the FF 91 isn’t just shaping up to be the fastest electric car out there (it can go from 0-60mph in 2.39 seconds—take that, Rihanna!), but also the fastest-charging car out there (up to 500 miles’ worth of juice in one hour). That’s one road-trip–ready ride.
VIRTUAL PERSONAL ASSISTANTS
Have you met Alexa? If not, 2017 is the year to get acquainted with Amazon’s most popular virtual personal assistant.
After all, Ford and Alexahave just partnered up to integrate your ride with your abode. From inside your apartment, you can use Alexa to start or stop your car’s engine, lock its doors, and check its data. From inside your car, Alexa allows you to browse audiobooks, search destinations, and also interact with any other smart devices at home. Driving home and want the heat turned up, the coffee pot on, and the lights bright by the time you pull in? Not a problem.
And Ford isn’t alone. Volkswagen will also be teaming up with Alexa, while Nissan and BMW are joining forces with Microsoft’s competing Cortana assistant. 2017: the year your personal assistant (virtually) calls shotgun.
Artificial intelligence in cars = real smart. Image Courtesy of Toyota.
But Alexa isn’t where the year’s AI-themed automotive innovations end; Toyota’s revolutionary new Concept-ishows that she’s just the beginning.
At the heart of the Concept-i is Yui, a powerful AI system that’s been designed to interact with riders on a human level. From the moment you approach the car and it beams an illuminated “Hello!” your way, the Concept-i has your preferences in mind. It learns the way you speak, remembers the locales you frequent, and can even track your emotions. Feeling sad or frustrated behind the wheel? Yui will dim the lights, play your favorite song, and take over the driving for a spell.
An “emotion engine” means there’s a car that really gets you. Image courtesy of Honda.
Then there’s the competing Honda NeuV, a concept car with an “emotion engine” named Hana that can similarly track (and act on) your emotions and past decisions—provided that doesn’t include road rage. A sporty little two-seater, it was also designed with urban car sharing in mind (ahem).
Of course, both the NeuV and the Concept-i are still concepts, but now that the technology is here, it’s just a matter of time.