What will our roads look like in the future?
It’s hard to know for sure, but there are some innovations that we can expect to see in our cars very soon.
Manufacturers have already started working on concepts like car-to-car communication, AR windscreens and health tracking, and they aren’t the only exciting advances being made.
From increased safety and security measures to eco friendly energy sources, these are some of the tech trends of the future.
There’s no doubt that airbags save lives but existing front and side versions can’t always protect you. Cars of the future could have full internal airbag systems to protect passengers on all sides for maximum safety.
Hyundai is working on this and its panoramic roof airbag concept cushions the impact in the event of a rollover accident while also preventing any unfortunate passengers from being ejected through the sunroof.
All this extra tech, combined with electric cars, makes power a priority. Drivers lucky enough to live in sunny countries could take advantage of the balmy conditions by topping up their vehicle’s battery with built-in solar panels.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has a solar panel built into the roof, which can trickle-charge the battery to the point where you could get up to around 6km of extra range per day if driving in very sunny conditions.
It might not seem like much but it’s free energy – and the efficiency could greatly improve in future as solar and battery tech develops.
Wireless key fobs are convenient but they can be exploited by criminals. Biometric security sensors that let you access and start your car using trusted fingerprints could be a safer way of limiting access to your vehicle (not to mention saving you the worry of finding your keys all the time).
Numerous cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class already offer fingerprint-scanning tech, so it could become more common in mainstream models in the relatively near future.
Augmented reality windscreens
Having useful information presented right in front of you while you’re driving can keep your eyes on the road while making navigation much easier.
Augmented reality overlays information such as directions and speed over a view of the real world, and is available in cars from the likes of BMW, Jaguar and Mini.
However, the Mercedes-Benz GLE takes things to the next level by having details such as turn instructions and street names hovering over real-world locations when viewed on the built-in dash screen.
In future, this useful tech could be built into windscreens, ensuring you’ll never have to take your eyes off the road again.
A car-to-car communication system that warns nearby drivers of hazards could go a long way to help avoiding accidents. Ford and Volkswagen are two companies to have implemented these systems.
New Golf models with Volkswagen’s Car2X system installed can already take advantage of wi-fi-like communication between other compatible vehicles. Testing has shown that a Golf sent into eight hazardous situations can warn other drivers at least 11 seconds before they encounter the same hazards.
Smartwatches can already detect problems like low or high blood pressure, stress and arrhythmia. Pop the right sensors in a car and drivers’ vital signs can also be measured, warning you of any problems and helping reduce the chances of an accident.
Last year, Ford and Germany’s RWTH university developed a concept that uses six sensors embedded in the driver’s seat to measure one’s heart rate, though it needs further development to work through all types of clothing.
Still, combined with a self-driving car that can take you safely to the side of a road or even the nearest hospital for assistance, this could be game changing.
Ask the car doctor: Cazoo automotive writer Freda Lewis-Stempel
How will cold weather affect my electric car?
With winter on its way, it’s good to know whether freezing weather will affect your electric car. The short answer is yes: low temperatures reduce battery performance by slowing chemical reactions, so you won’t get as many miles out of a full charge as you would in summer.
In-car heating is one of the biggest drains on your battery too, so as well as shorter days and colder nights, you can expect the winter to bring a reduced range for your EV.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though – the differences won’t be huge and many electric cars come with a pre-heating function, which lets you set a timer so that the heater comes on while it’s charging, giving you maximum battery life once you get moving and a toasty warm car to jump into.
In association with Cazoo
How to get your Metro newspaper fix