5x technology for the car future - this side of autonomous driving

Instead of bulky exterior mirrors, the BMW i8 Mirrorless has delicate camera arms

Autonomous driving, long distanceElectric cars and rolling hotspots - in addition to the major technology revolutions, there will also be innovations in the details of the car of the future. We have collected five possible developments.

Camera instead of mirror: They have been seen in trade fair studies for years - delicate camera arms instead of bulky rear-view mirrors. Most recently, BMW's i8 Mirrorless study relied on electronic consideration; the wide-angle camera image is usually shown on a large-format display in the dashboard. At the same time, the on-board computer can evaluate the image information and warn of possible dangers. But not only the gain in safety and possible design freedom should ensure the introduction of the camera mirrors, their aerodynamic advantages also speak for the fact that they extinguish today's exterior mirrors. The first mirrorless cars could start as early as the end of the decade.

Local Motors builds cars using 3D printers
Local Motors builds cars using 3D printers

3D printer instead of sheet metal press: 3D printers are still small, slow and expensive. But that should change quickly - and could also revolutionize automobile production. The US company Local Motors already demonstrated in 2015 with a prototype that you can print cars at least in part. In addition to the small car presented at the time, the company is also planning a small off-road vehicle and a motorcycle from the printer, and the first models should be available this year. But not only whole cars can be printed, in the future accessories and attachments for tuners will also come from the 3D printer.

Infotainment instead of landscape: the head-up display is just the beginning. If data on speed or route selection is currently displayed in the windshield, the glass in front of the driver should in future become a true information screen. Turning instructions then literally hover in front of the corresponding cross streets, dangerous obstacles are marked and ideal lines are displayed on the race track. The side windows also become canvas, give travel guide information about what you see or offer games to bored children in the back seat. The first such systems should be ready for series production in 2017, but the development is far from over. For example, Mini recently presented virtual reality glasses with which the driver can see through the car body, for example - helpful not only when parking.

Volvo stores electricity in such glass fiber mats
Volvo stores electricity in such glass fiber mats

Body instead of battery pack: Today's e-car batteries are heavy and bulky. In future, electricity storage will therefore be outsourced to the body and chassis parts of the vehicles. As early as 2013, Volvo showed how this could be done with a prototype with a battery-operated boot lid and 12-volt engine cover. The two components are not made of metal, but of carbon fiber, into which so-called supercapacitors are embedded. Up to now, these extremely fast power storage devices are mainly known from laptops, cameras and power tools. In the future, the technology will be used as a replacement for the starter battery and for the power supply to the electrical consumers on board, but in the long term it will also be able to supply enough electricity to drive electric and hybrid cars. In addition to the gain in installation space, their use should also significantly reduce the vehicle weight. If the roof and bonnet were additionally built from the carbon composite, the vehicle weight could decrease by 15 percent compared to the conventional design, according to Volvo.

Car instead of doctor: is driving a car healthy? The question could be clarified by the so-called "health monitoring". Ford in particular has discovered the topic of health monitoring for itself. Together with RWTH Aachen, the company has already presented the prototype of an ECG seat that monitors the heart rate of the occupants with sensors in the backrest. If there are any irregularities, there is a warning; if there is a risk of a heart attack, an emergency call is made immediately. An automatic stop to prevent accidents should also be possible in the future. An expanded sensor system is also conceivable, for example with so-called wearables, such as wristwatches that measure blood sugar or blood pressure. A date for series launch is not yet known.

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