Nearly every piece of science fiction in the mid-20th century predicted we would have flying cars long before 2015. And while we’re far from driving above the roads, we are on the forefront of automotive tech advancements that sci-fi authors never would have predicted.
Cars have already changed so much in just the last 10 years. In 2005, the electric car seemed like a pipe dream, smart console systems were merely a concept as we didn’t even have the first iPhone until 2007, and even the most basic features we expect as standard (like navigation) were pure luxuries just one decade ago. Yes, cars have gotten so much sweeter in 10 years, but the best is still ahead of us. Below are three of the coolest inventions you can expect to see this year that will forever change how we get around.
Self-driving cars are a gold mine for both Detroit and Silicon Valley. Just a few days ago, a driverless car from tech company Delphi drove from San Francisco to New York City with almost no assistance from a human driver. Google, Audi and Mercedes are all developing driverless technology that will have autonomous cars rolling up and down nearly any road in America with nothing more than sensors and computers. The implications of fully autonomous cars could change everything — from infrastructure to how we test for driver’s permits and licenses. But while this technology is more than ready for consumer availability, the average Joe couldn’t get his hands on it until now.
Last year, Tesla announced a new feature called Autopilot, which will give drivers the ability to sail hands free down the highway. The best part about the newest feature is that it comes packaged in a simple over-the-air software update for the Model S; no new hardware required. Autopilot is limited to the highway, so it’s not a fully automated experience just yet, but it’s still better than anything else that will release this year. Autopilot should be available for the Model S in about three months.
Speaking of Tesla, the Model S is an incredible car, but it also comes at the incredible price of around $70,000, putting it well out of range for most middle-class Americans. But, while the race for luxury electric is seemingly won, the battle for a high-quality affordable electric car is still very heated.
The problem with price in electric cars is the lithium ion batteries to power them make up almost half the cost. But a recent study in Gizmodo shows the cost to produce those batteries is dropping rapidly, which means companies like Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet are going to start pumping out quality options fast. We might not see a $30k model available this year but be ready for a few announcements.
“Connected consoles” are nothing new in 2015. The ability to sync your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can access phone calls, text messages, and emails hands-free has been around almost as long as the original iPhone. These systems advanced quickly and work well with almost any popular smartphone, but because there are so many different console manufacturers, it was hard to find a perfect fit.
Apple leads the market with the most popular smartphone, and is now aiming to do with same with CarPlay, which is currently the most popular console. Picture a small iPad in your dash that connects to your iPhone using low-powered Bluetooth and grants easy, voice-controlled access to all of iOS’s most popular features: calls, messages, maps, Siri, and even third-party apps like Spotify and Pandora. But the real beauty behind CarPlay is seamless connectivity. When you have the same people making the phone and the console, the two will work well together. Plus you know you can always depend on Apple for amazing design.