Electric cars are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to vehicles powered by petrol as they’re more sustainable, easier to maintain and more efficient. But electric cars aren’t exactly a new invention. In fact, the first versions existed as early as the 1800s – these were a safer alternative to early petrol engines that needed to be started by hand-crank. However, the 1920s saw the increasing availability of petroleum, so petrol-powered cars were suddenly cheaper to run, which made them more popular.
We’re seeing a drastic resurgence in the popularity of the electric car thanks to a number of stand outs, the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, as well as other models produced by Mitsubishi and Renault.
This modern revival is owed entirely to the increasing availability of plug-in technology, which has allowed owners to charge their cars easily at home, and more powerful lithium-ion batteries that allow them to travel over longer distances.
In recent years, states in the US have started offering incentives for public charging stations making long distance travel a much more viable option for electric car owners.
Further to this, there are now companies beginning to develop wireless charging for electric cars, making the charging process that much easier and less involved.
As these more sustainable vehicles continue to grow in popularity, we will likely see much more integration with other new technology, such as home battery storage powered by solar, which can help make the car even more sustainable.
A paper published by the Climate Council of Australia suggested that houses using battery storage could have the option to use their car’s battery to store excess energy and further increase their system efficiency.
Sit back and relax
The idea of autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars or driver-assisting vehicles is growing more popular every day. In 2014, a survey conducted by Insurance.com showed that 86% of people would consider buying a driverless car. This is almost double what it was in 2011, where a separate study suggested 49%.
In the case of driverless cars, what we are first likely to see is a much more involved version of driver assist, which we now see in parking assist technology and emergency brakes. Volvo is currently testing a car that can balance driver involvement with autonomous modes over long distances.
These vehicles would have the capacity to be fully autonomous in certain circumstances, but need driver involvement in other more complicated situations. Not to mention the evolution of assisted braking and sensor technology, which could override driver input to avoid collisions and help lower the road toll.
Another avenue for assisted driving is already in use by Google and Microsoft, and is an evolution of sensor technology. The Google Glass and Microsoft Hololens both plan to offer augmented reality that can help you live your everyday life. In a car, this means smart windscreens that can use light displays to show you where to turn, or tell you what song is playing so your eyes are always on the road.
Safe and secure
Security has come a long way, too, and you only need to look in your pocket to see where the future of most of our technology is going.
The smartphone has pioneered a huge number of modern technologies that will likely spread to other areas in a few short years.
First among these is biometric operation. Most newer cars have keyless entry, keyless start, but before long that key in your pocket will likely be gone and replaced with the your ordinary thumb print. It may sound like something out of a spy movie, but for security and insurance purposes a thumbprint can be much harder to trick than a radio signal or a key.
Biometric operation could be a huge benefit to law enforcement and insurance companies. Being able to tell who is driving a car at any one time and the ability to remotely deactivate it could help keep the roads safer.
What is the future of the connected car?
With technology racing faster than ever before, driving could be a very different experience. Whether you look at security, connectivity or interactivity, it looks like getting from A to B is going to be smarter than ever before.