If you grew up watching The Jetsons, then the cars of the future will come as no surprise to you. In fact, you may wonder what took them so long to arrive. When the first episode aired in 1962, the year 2062 seemed far off in the unimaginable future, almost as far-fetched as the space age vehicles George Jetson and his family enjoyed. However, as the year 2013 unfolds, 2062 is no longer so far away, and recent advances in technology make the Jetsons’ vehicle a bit more of a reality.
The Ever-Improving Automobile
When Henry Ford’s mass-produced automobiles first began rolling out onto the roads in 1914, cruise control, automatic transmissions, and anti-locking brakes were not on anyone’s radar, and the idea of cars needing computer software was even more distant. Yet today, nearly 100 years later, cars have undergone amazing transformations for aesthetic purposes, economy, luxury, and safety reasons. Countless technologies have revolutionized the auto industry, making the cars of today with heated seats, GPS navigation systems, airbags, and viewing screens for passengers almost unrecognizable as descendants of the Model T. At the rate technology continues to develop, this trend is not likely to change.
Think of the first cell phone you owned. The novelty of being able to carry a phone in one’s pocket and make calls from nearly anywhere transformed all of our lives. Today’s phones, with their connectivity to the Internet, touch-screen capacity, built in GPS and cameras are a far-cry from their early predecessors. Auto industry developers recognize the need to stay abreast of the times, and consumers will soon see the debut of smart cars. If the term “smart car” makes you think of a small, electric car, prepare to have your horizons stretched. Tomorrow’s smart car will be smart in a way some phones are considered to be smart, and this means more than just “green” power. It means a completely revolutionized form of transportation.
Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC)
The cars of the future will communicate with one another through DSRC, a Wi-Fi based cart-to-car communication system that will allow cars to communicate road conditions, current speed, unexpected hazards, and other information both with other cars and with central information systems. This means that sudden braking by the vehicle ahead of you will produce an alarm on the screen of your car – the windshield. Eventually, that could mean that your car will be able to respond to unexpected changes without your assistance. Potholes, traffic conditions, black ice, and backed up intersections will all be communicated from car to car, allowing the driver, or the car itself to alter driving speed or route based on information received.
Futuristic cars really have no limit. With talk about completely automated cars, commuters could be working, playing games, browsing the Internet, or chatting while their cars do the driving. Visionaries imagine smaller, more efficient cars, able to maneuver seamlessly through traffic, make tight turns, and even fold up into compact parking areas. Automakers are already working on the cars of the future, and GM’s EN-V is a prime example. Instead of buying parts for the car, drivers of the future will be buying new apps. Of course, auto dealers are already using apps such as the barcode scanner found here. What apps both dealers and consumers will be using in the near future depends on largely on the receptivity of humans to the advancing technology.
Carl Sconnely is a communications specialist for SYS2K, a company that creates auto dealership software.