In dreaming of a sweet ride, you usually reach for the sexiest muscle cars or the fastest race cars, don’t you? Not that it’s the wrong way of dreaming, it’s just that you can go for what’s better: cars of the future! Why? Well, whether you believe it or not, these may be more reachable than the cars of your dreams.
Remember the Jetsons’ flying cars or the semi-aquatic ride of the legendary James Bond? They may be in the market right now, which further means that sci-fi is fiction no more. Wheels are evolved, wings are attached, and microchips are installed. Steel tubes and exhaust systems are still a big part of future-in-the-present cars, but a lot still has changed. Behold cars of the future that are here—now.
This may be a concept car from Audi, one of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, but prototypes shown last January 2014 in the Las Vegas CES have garnered rave reviews. The coupe, known for its dynamic design in plasma red, is an evolution of the Sport Quattro concept featuring a V8 engine, LED headlights, and plug-in hybrid drive.
But just how futuristic is this car? Two words: Piloted Drive. With a much smaller computer system (that fits in the glove compartment as opposed to the earlier whole trunk), this car can think—and drive—on its own. Think traffic sign recognition and pedestrian spotting for a few.
Now go bigger: in Piloted Drive, the car maintains safe distance from the car in front while sensing lanes for navigation, and once you’ve reached your destination, it parks for you—all with the help of the cameras on the frame of the car.
Oh, and there’s still one more thing: two cameras installed inside sense if the driver has his eyes closed for more than 10 seconds. Then what happens? The car blinks then stops with hazard lights on. Cool, huh?
Fuel-cell technology has been used by NASA to power their space explorations since the 1960s. And automotive company Honda has caught on. In December 2008, Honda released 200 handmade units of their FCX Clarity line, which is a hydrogen-powered vehicle.
Its 100-kilowatt vertical flow fuel-cell stack allows more space in the care while, in terms of design, reduces the amount of heat generated. If these news aren’t good enough, then you’ll love the fact that the FCX Clarity emits water instead of carbon dioxide thanks to the fuel-cell design. No harmful emission, which is a dream come true to every green driver.
The FCX Clarity may not be too ahead in technology, but it does prepare for a brighter future. And it’s here now.
Now this truly is sci-fi bye-bye, and it’s based on only one reason: flight. With an option available for owners to drive on land or to pilot on air, the Terrafugia Transition is one of future’s best gifts to the present. Its engine is powered by premium unleaded gasoline, so you won’t have to worry about availability.
As for its controls, well there are the usual: steering wheel, and gas and brake pedals for driving while stick and rudder pedals for flying. Converting from one mode to another is also no problem, as Terrafugia compares it to putting down a convertible’s roof. Oh, and did I mention that it can fit inside your garage? Easy, fun, and convenient, futuristic comfort is now in our reach with the Terrafugia Transition.
Another concept car in this list, but one sure to bring more oomph to your dreams, is the Strati, a sleek car born from 3D printing. Michele Anoe brought her design to Local Motors’ 3D Printed Car Design Challenge last April and won. Her brainchild boasts two seats and a retractable roof, and runs on electric power.
The Italian Anoe will see his car printed assembled in the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago this September, all from scratch. 3D car printing—and you haven’t even formed a full grasp of 3D printing yet. The future is fast approaching.
Dr. Emmett Brown’s plutonian-powered DeLorean time machine may not be here yet, but with the pace that automotive technology’s going, you can expect it anytime soon. There is still a bitter truth to these cars, and it is that they may still remain in your dreams. After all, great technology does come at a price.