In this post, we take a look at what top manufacturers have in the pipeline and how it could make drivers’ lives better.
Carbon Fiber Chassis
Carbon fiber technology has been around for more than four decades. But it’s still not in widespread use because of the cost. There are some top-of-the-range supercars that use it, but they’re a rare breed indeed.
It’s all to do with the actual cost of weaving and constructing carbon fibre. Most processes still require doing it by hand. To make a car out of carbon fiber could take more than a thousand hours of painstaking labor. And any defects in the material require specialists to start over again.
However, innovators are refining machine-based technologies that could make carbon fibre much cheaper. After all, the material itself is ridiculously abundant in the Earth’s crust. It’s just a way of figuring out how to transform it into something useful.
The benefits of carbon fiber chassis for vehicles are tremendous. They’re much lighter than regular metal, and so manufacturers could use them to bring down the weight of their cars, enhancing fuel economy. The material is also wonderfully strong – something that could help to protect passengers in the event of an accident.
Pollution is a significant issue in many of today’s cities. Yes, pollen is a problem. But so too are diesel fumes and viruses. Today’s state-of-the-art are great, but if you’re like me, you’ve probably had problems with them. They are one of the reasons why my AC is not blowing cold air. Filters become clogged and, eventually, cause problems to other parts of the climate control system.
Advanced biofilters, however, take a different approach. These could capture particles on the microscopic level while also alerting you if you need to change or clean them. In the future, many will contain nanosensors that will inform you of filter usage and when you require a service.
Some cars, such as a Pagani Huayra, offer dynamic aero. The idea is to change the aerodynamics of the car, depending on the speed you’re travelling. That’s because the aero needs of vehicles change the faster that they go. Downforce isn’t necessary at low speeds – and it can even harm the performance of your vehicle. However, as you go faster and faster, it becomes increasingly necessary.
Currently, most cars have fixed wings. But that could be changing as servo technology becomes cheaper. Most production cars will likely have body panels that change orientation depending on the velocity in the future, giving drivers more confidence and control.
The military has been using HUDs for many years to give pilots a clearer display of the combat zone while also providing them with essential information. But the same technology could be coming to cars too.
What makes this cockpit advancement so special is that it allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road at the same time. They don’t have to look down to their control panel or dashboard. Instead, they can potentially do everything from their steering wheel, without having to move their head.
HUDs also provide the opportunity to include smart labelling. So for instance, a camera connected to the heads-up-display could label potential hazards in the driver’s field of view that they might not have seen. They could even identify signs of sleepy or drunk drivers in busy highway traffic based on behavioral signals.
Brain control sounds like a hopelessly futuristic technology. But it may be coming to a car new you sooner than you think. British company Land Rover is already trialling the technology for various non-essential vehicle functions.
But what actually is this new tech? Well, the idea is to place a kind of electrode on your scalp which will then enable you to access things like navigation and music without having to actually say anything or press any controls. The hope, according to Land Rover and other proponents, is that the technology will reduce instances of distracted driving. Whether it’s worth adapting brain control to cars, though, remains an open question. We could get fully autonomous vehicles before that happens. The tech could be thirty years away right now – we just don’t know.
Mobility, therefore, is probably going to change considerably over the coming years. Right now, we might not even be able to imagine the kind of innovations that could occur. But it is fun to think about.