Cars have been constantly evolving and changing since they were first invented in towards the end of the 19th century. Engines have become more powerful, more reliable and more efficient, while modern vehicles would be unrecognizable to the motorists of the early 20th century.
Even the car owners of the 1990s would have been astonished to learn that one day they would be able to connect their cell phones to their vehicle or use online maps rather than foldable paper ones to find their way from A to B.
Perhaps some of the futuristic car features on the list below will one day come as standard on our new vehicles, but current technology means that many of them will either cost too much or are simply not achievable.
20 Hi-Tech Hi-Fi Systems
Connecting your smartphone to your car’s stereo system may have seemed wildly futuristic to drivers just 30 years ago, but even that technology is becoming passé to modern motorists. The hi-tech hi-fi systems of the future will even be able to make changes to improve the sound quality of the original recording.
19 Night Vision
According to car manufacturers, our own eyes are no longer enough to ensure safe driving at night – and the only way we can avoid accidents in the dark is to install night vision systems in our cars. While it may be fun to play with this military tech, night vision screens could easily become just another potential distraction for drivers.
18 Windshield Displays
Speaking of distractions, heads-up windshield displays are already available in some models, allowing drivers to keep an eye on their speedometer, for example, without taking their eyes off the road. Plans to make these displays more intricate and more detailed is taking this tech too far, however, and will probably cause more accidents than it prevents.
17 Multimedia Windows
The idea that the side windows on cars could soon become multimedia screens might seem like a great concept to parents, fed up of having to discipline unruly and bored children in the back seat. Given that most of these kids already have their own devices, however, is there really any need to put more technology between them and reality?
16 Cars That Diagnose Their Own Problems
Cars that can diagnose their own problems are nothing new; everyone has a vehicle which tells you when you are running low on oil or water after all. However, as engines become more complicated, there are more things that can go wrong. Even if a car can tell you why it has broken down, though, you will still have to take it to your local garage to get the repairs anyway.
15 Wheel Airbags
Airbags have also been an integral part of our cars since the 1980s, although auto manufacturers are always looking for new ways to use these devices, including airbags which can protect pedestrians who have been hit by cars as well as airbags which inflate under the wheels, bringing the car to a more immediate halt.
14 Solar Panels Which Power The Car
Environmentally-friendly cars are the latest craze in automotive engineering, as demand increases for hybrid and electric cars. Car manufacturers are always looking at new ways to make their vehicles greener, and some are developing models which are covered in solar panels which will power the car – but only if there is enough sunshine, of course!
13 3D-Printed Cars
3D printers can be used to create any item, including cars. While this do-it-yourself technology allows drivers to create their own personalized car – a truly unique set of wheels – this kind of tech doesn’t come cheap and allowing this level of customization is inevitably going to lead to some ugly automotive creations.
12 Gesture Control
Gesture control is the height of laziness when it comes to car gadgets. Instead of lifting a stick on the steering column to switch on your turn signal, drivers would instead simply have to wave their fingers or hand in a certain way to turn on their indicator. The tech would need to be foolproof to ensure that it didn’t just detect enthusiastic hand gestures during a heated conversation…
11 In-Car Cameras And Microphones
If multimedia screens on car windows is not the way to deal with misbehaving kids in the back seat, then perhaps an internal camera and microphone system would help exasperated parents. Cameras and screens in the front would allow parents to keep an eye on their kids, while an internal sound system would enable them to reprimand their brood without turning around.
10 Cars That Can "Talk" To Other Vehicles
Given that we know our smartphones can already “talk” to our cars with ease, it is perhaps not surprising that auto companies have already developed tech which will allow vehicles themselves to “talk” to other cars, trucks and even motorbikes on the road, in a bid to prevent accidents from ever happening.
9 Automatic Corrective Steering
Another technological safety innovation sees vehicles automatically correct the car’s steering if it detects that it is leaving its lane or veering towards a potential accident. This tech seems like a good idea but given that most drivers will make these corrections themselves, there could be a risk for an over-correction in the wrong direction!
8 Cars That Monitor Your Health
Future cars may not just be able to diagnose problems with their own engines, but also with their drivers! Technology already exists which can easily track basic bodily functions such as pulse and heart rate, to detect if the driver is under stress, becoming tired or even if they are about to suffer a serious illness.
7 Vehicles That Recognize Drivers
This tech is being developed by peer-to-peer rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, to ensure that their future autonomous vehicles pick up the right person. More imminently, you can soon expect your Uber driver to be able to tell if you have had too much to drink when you order the car, thanks to technology which detects unusual behavior.
6 Fingerprint Sensor Start Buttons
It is now the norm to start your car by pushing a button, rather than turning a key, but for these push-button systems to work, the car still needs to be nearby. Auto manufacturers are working on using the technology which allows us to unlock mobile devices using our fingerprint to do the same with vehicles.
5 Facial Recognition Door Locks
Perhaps even more futuristic – and certainly less secure – is the idea that facial recognition software could be used to unlock and even start our cars. Existing software would have to be improved a lot before such a system could be properly secure, but the day could come when you could sit in your car and start moving, simply by having the right face.
4 Crash Protection For Your Ears
Car manufacturers have made lots of changes over the years to make our cars much safer if they are involved in an accident, but one aspect of crashes that no-one has as yet taken into consideration is how loud they are. Mercedes is planning to use a loud static burst to protect your ears when it detects that the car has been involved in a collision.
3 Reconfigurable Vehicles
Drivers of a certain generation will remember the popular Transformers cartoon, about an alien race of robots who can disguise themselves as ordinary vehicles. Well, it seems that truth is stranger than fiction as reconfigurable vehicles are being developed which can switch between operating as a bus, a distribution truck, and a refuse lorry.
2 Lots Of Warning Alarms
All of the 21st-century car safety features may be designed to prevent accidents, but is it possible that by packing vehicles with dozens of alarms to tell us when things might go wrong, that they could end up distracting drivers and actually causing an accident that was never really on the cards?
1 Cars Driven By Brainwaves
Tech which allows cars to be driven by brainwaves is still a long way off being used in any way commercially – which is probably a good thing, as relying on the brains of drivers to instinctively make the right decision is not guaranteed to make the roads safer! Nevertheless, this is an intriguing prospect and certainly makes for an intriguing experiment.
Sources: Cebos, Top Gear, Extreme Tech, The Drive, Motor 1