driverless carsWe live in exciting times. It wasn’t that long ago humans lived in caves, and our only tool was a sharpened stone on a stick. Now we have complex tools serving a wide variety of functions: electricity, which provides us with light after sundown; computers, which enable us to store masses of information; phones, which connect us with people across the globe; and cars, which increase our speed of travel. Vehicular technology is making real inroads. Let’s look at five exciting new trends in vehicular technology.

1.   Driverless cars

As all of you probably know already, driverless cars are no longer the stuff of science fiction; they are fast becoming a reality. Companies like Tesla, BMW, and Uber are all working hard on self-autonomous vehicles, and though the technology is not quite yet perfected, it is only a matter of time before everyone will have a driverless car in their driveway. A driverless future is, as well as an easier future, a safer future for everyone, insofar as human error is the number one reason for accidents, and should driverless cars, having undergone strenuous quality control, get to a stage where they are safe to operate, the number of car accidents will decrease dramatically.

2.   Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication

The idea of cars communicating in their own informational language is, perhaps, a little spooky. What next? Robot insurgence? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Vehicles are only capable, presently, of sending each other basic information: if there are any crashes up ahead, for example, or how many metres they are away from each other. Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (VANETS for short) allow for so-called “platooning”, which enables vehicles to monitor, and thus maintain, their distance from each other. Such information will reduce accidents and, more importantly, tailgating (the bane of many a driver’s life).

3.   Electric Cars

Electric cars are already available—such as the Prius, owned by all those ecological-minded celebrities—but the technology has still a long way to go and is continuing to make advances. Many people’s objection to electric cars is that, though they are undoubtedly good for the environment, they just don’t have enough battery life to make them viable. You have to stop at ports, of which there are far too few, incidentally, much too often, and busy people, for whom time is of the essence, simply can’t be wasting so much of it recharging their car. Well good news: battery life is improving, and it won’t be long before you can travel long journeys on a fully charged battery. Price is another reason for people’s reluctance to buy. Good news on this front also: price is coming down. It won’t be long before electric cars are viable.

So there you have it. Those are three exciting new trends in vehicular technology. There will come a day, in the not too distant future, when electric-charged cars are driving themselves, refuelling themselves, sending each other messages in their own language, and the human need only sit and receive the service. What will we do then, when robots do everything for us? I suppose we will just have to think about the stars.