Will your next car be self driving? Cars of the future

Imagine jumping into a car that feels like a life-size version of your iPhone: voice-activated controls, touch screens and an impossibly sleek design. Sounds like more of a vacation than a work commute, right? Well, such a car does exist, although not quite to the level of awe portrayed in the vision above. In the future, we can expect cars to go the way of phones and televisions—that is to say, smart—while simultaneously becoming far more environmentally friendly. The following are just a few of the exciting developments about to take place in automotive technology:

Cars and the Environment

No, cars are still not particularly great for the environment. In an interview with Car Talk, Adam Stein of climate group Terrapass explained that the average car emits six tons of carbon dioxide every year. That being said, cars have come a long way on the environmental front; gas mileage has improved by leaps and bounds since the 1960s, particularly in vehicles with automatic transmission. Dealerships are also packed with more eco-friendly used cars for sale than ever, as evident with many lots stocked with EPA-certified SmartWay vehicles.

Improvements related to cars and environment are expected to continue in the future. This may be spurred, in part, by new fuel efficiency standards set in place by the Obama administration. Just twelve years from now, car manufacturers will be expected to produce vehicles averaging 54.5 miles per gallon, according to a White House press release. Once such a feat is accomplished, the amount of carbon dioxide drivers emit will be cut dramatically, thus shrinking the carbon footprint that, according to leading climatologists, is responsible for our current issues with climate change.

Smart Cars of the Future

You love your smart phone, and, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you are enjoying the freedom of access provided by your smart television. Now, why not add a smart car to the mix? If technology continues on its current fast track, you will soon be able to do just that.

There is already plenty of smart phone style technology built in to the latest and greatest vehicle models. Music and navigation systems have proven particularly useful. Thanks to GPS and well-developed navigation tools, drivers of newer vehicles no longer have to worry about being completely lost in the middle of nowhere. Other controls expected to fall under the smart cars’ capabilities include automatic climate settings inside the car, adjustments that will further improve fuel efficiency, and all kinds of games and activities to keep kids in the back seat entertained.

Smart technology does come with a few major disadvantages, the most notorious of which involves privacy concerns. Some drivers worry about owning smart cars, as they feel that hackers could easily access their information and potentially steal their identities. This is certainly a valid concern. Drivers would be well-advised to invest in protection systems to keep their information safe. Such cars will also likely encounter many of the same safety issues seen in vehicles today, such as the faulty wiring and airbag failures.

Hybrid Air Cars

Perhaps the most exciting automotive development that could hit on a wide scale in the near future is the hybrid air vehicle, the New York Times reported. As the name suggests, such a car would run on air, a commodity that, unlike natural gas, is extremely inexpensive to obtain. The models of Hybrid Air cars currently in production would have dual air-gas systems, but future versions just might run exclusively on air. Talk about revolutionary.

Car technology is continually evolving, and, thanks to the hard work of today’s researchers, we can expect great things in tomorrow’s cars. Just glance at your smart phone and imagine in on a larger scale—you’ll get a basic idea of the convenience you’re about to encounter in automotive technology.

The picture above this article is the PSA Peugeot Citroen Hybrid Air concept by Norbert Aepli, Switzerland.

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