3 for 5

How stuff works is a website that provides information on multiple topic including, cars, culture, and environment.  Under the “auto” tab, there is a slideshow article that was over 5 future car technologies that might have a chance at working.  The five that are in “5 Future Car Technologies That Truly Have a Chance” are: 1.) Cars That Communicate with Each Other and the Road, 2.) Self-driving Cars, 3.) Augmented Reality Dashboards, 4.) Airbags That Help Stop Cars, and 5.) Energy-storing Body Panels.  Christopher Neiger wrote the article, and I think that four of the five technological advances listed could work, but in my blogs, I am looking at technologies that advance the auto industry and could potentially be in “future cars.”

I do not see self-driving cars become a reality for the everyday driver.  I think there is too much extra things that would have to be put into these cars making them affordable only to the wealthy.  I also do not see them catching on in the “Heart of America.”  People in this region like to drive their own cars and do not want technology to have control over whether they make it to where they are going or drive off in a ditch.  I also only see cars that communicate with the road and other cars only catching on in major cities, and I think they would be great to help traffic flow and make city driving less dangerous and chaotic.  In the Midwest, there is no need for them.  The number of cars in the middle of the country wan in comparison to the big cities on the East and West coasts.

Some of the technologies listed by How Stuff Works, have a less technologically advanced form already on the market.  Toyota has sonar in some cars (Prius for example).  Toyota’s sonar sends out wavelengths that bounce of the car in front and determine how far ahead that car is.  With the push of a button and cruise control, the car will stay that distance behind the car ahead; this is great for interstate/major-highway driving.  This sonar can also will also start to apply the brakes if you get to close; it may not necessarily keep a driver out of an accident, but it will slow the car down, making the collision less dangerous.  There are multiple car companies that have the technology to keep you in the lane you are driving in.  The car detects the line and if you drift of, the car corrects itself.  I believe this to be the start of the movement towards driverless cars.  The Augmented Reality Dashboard is really a cool thing, but is merely an advanced form of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) that many cars have, like GMC’s Acadia.  The airbags that help stop cars use technology that is already existing to raise the car and help improve safety.

I believe that Augmented Reality Dashboards (AR) are something that can really help drivers, and allow traffic to move at higher rates, which brings up a whole new argument.  Engineers are developing AR to be able to identify objects in front of a vehicle and tell the driver how far away that object is.  The AR, like HUD, will overlay information on top of what the driver sees through the windshield.  If approaching too quickly a red box might appear, the AR would also tell you how to move into a different lane before you collide with the car in front.  The AR also has a GPS that will show were the car is and where to turn without the driver ever having to take his/her eyes of the road.

Mercedes is experimenting with airbags to help make cars safer.  The idea behind airbags helping to stop cars is this: raise the car and slow the car down.  The airbags would be deployed when the car sensors determine that a crash is inevitable.  The airbags use friction to slow the car down before impact.  They also raise the car up to eight centimeters, countering the nose-dive motion when “slamming on the brakes,” allowing more of a bumper-to-bumper contact.  It also helps to keep passengers from sliding under their seat belts during a collision.

Finally maybe the most important piece of technology for the future of the automobile is exists in energy storing body panels.  Exxon Mobile predicts that half of production cars will be hybrid.  This is great for the environment, but the problem is the energy for the cars.  The batteries in hybrids are very heavy and use a lot of space.  Even with the advances in batteries, the weight of hybrids depends significantly on their battery.  Hybrid batteries become charged when the engine is using gas.  This is wear body panels that can store energy can help to reduce the weight and use less of the gas to charge the battery.  In Europe a group of nine auto manufacturers are researching and testing panels that can store energy and charge faster than the conventional batteries in use today.  “The panels that are being tested, are made of polymer fiber and carbon resin that are strong enough to be used in vehicles and pliable enough to be molded into panels,” says Christopher Neiger, which potentially could reduce the weight of the car by up to fifteen percent.  These panels get the energy they store from technologies like regenerative braking or simply the car being plugged in.  These panels will store the energy and feed it back to the car when it is needed.    These panels would make the car lighter, therefore making it more efficient (eliminating wasted energy needed to pull the extra weight), and help to reduce the side of the hybrid batteries.



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