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Zero-emission engines, augmented-reality windscreens and cars that think for themselves. Automotive technology is about to take one of the greatest leaps forward in living memory. Explore the science behind the vehicles of tomorrow.

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See the revolution Ingenie | Drive well, pay less
  • Active Window Displays

    Augmented reality windscreens could point the way forward and display essential information.

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  • Biometric Access

    Fingerprints are already a common way to unlock our smartphones – why not our vehicles too?

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  • Gesture Control

    As hands-free driving becomes a reality, even your car’s dials and buttons could be replaced with swipes.

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  • External Airbags

    Air cushions fitted to the car’s exterior help protect pedestrians and other vehicles in the event of a collision.

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  • Engine And Battery

    Zero-emission engines will make tomorrow’s transport cleaner, greener and even cheaper to run.

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  • Advanced Materials

    The days of metal and glass are numbered - future cars will be made of high-strength plastics and carbon nanomaterials.

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  • Sensors

    Electronic sensors are a vehicle’s eyes and ears - and they’ll become increasingly fundamental to the design of tomorrow’s cars.

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  • Autonomy Intelligence

    Cars are getting more intelligent all the time - and it won’t be long before we see self-driving cars on public roads.

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  • Versatile Interiors

    Get ready for a more comfortable commute.

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  • Omnidirectional Wheels

    Is the world ready for a car that can moonwalk?

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Automotive technology is about to take the greatest leap forward in living memory. Experience the next evolution of automobile design.

Active Window Displays

Modern drivers have to deal with a number of competing demands on their attention: the information on the dashboard, the route on the sat nav, a Bluetooth-linked smartphone and, most importantly, the road ahead. But technology could offer a way to combine all these into one handy screen - the windscreen.

Active window displays, also called head-up displays (HUDs), already show things like driving speed, navigation guidance and warnings but are likely to expand to include ‘augmented reality’ where information could be overlaid on the view of the road ahead. This could include route advice, guidance lines for cornering, video calls and possibly even games or movies to watch in autonomous vehicles.

HUDs are nothing new - they’ve been a feature of high-end cars since the 1980s. But advances in display technology, combined with the sensors of tomorrow’s cars, could open up whole new dimensions in the way we drive.

A screen like this could go beyond simply replacing the dashboard. It could also warn of approaching vehicles and pedestrians, or display a virtual minimap of the area around the car – showing shops, tourist attractions or other points of interest.

Delivering all this on-screen information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm and distract motorists could be a challenge - but done correctly, this technology could effectively give drivers a ‘sixth sense’ that helps them avoid accidents.

Next Biometric Access

Biometric Access

Biometric identifiers, like fingerprints and iris patterns, increasingly look like they could one day replace the passwords on your computer, the PIN on your bank card, your passport at the airport - and even the keys to your car.

Many smartphones now come with an optional fingerprint scan to add another layer of security, and it’s easy to see the benefits of applying similar technology to vehicles. With a two-step system, a thief would have trouble starting your car even if they’d stolen your keys.

In 2015, Ford was granted a patent for a “keyless entry” system that turns the driver’s smartphone into a biometric identification device. The phone captures an identifier like fingerprints, iris patterns or voice, and verifies it before sending a wireless signal to unlock the car. What’s more, the owner can give temporary or permanent access privileges to other people.

And it’s not just about security. A car that knows who’s driving can queue up the driver’s favourite songs on the stereo, adjust the seats to their liking, and remember their favourite routes.

Today, privacy and security concerns are limiting the growth of biometrics - but as the technology advances, the struggle to remember where you put your car keys could become a thing of the past.

Next Gesture Control

Gesture Control

Some elements of car interiors haven’t changed much over the years - volume dials are still commonplace on stereos, for instance, and many indicators are still controlled with a switch or lever. But all that could be about to change.

Gesture controls are already being built into the next generation of TVs and gaming consoles, so why not cars too? Motions like pinching and swiping, already familiar from smartphones, could offer more convenient ways to change the music, adjust the head-up display or switch headlights on and off.

While some current-generation gesture control systems need users to wear a special wrist band or carry a control stick, the development of increasingly sensitive sensors mean the car’s console should be able to recognise motions simply by building a precise, continuously-updated 3D image of the driver’s hands.

BMW’s AirTouch system, which made its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, uses an array of console-mounted sensors to detect hand motions, allowing hands-free control of the iDrive infotainment system.

Today’s systems are designed to be operated with one hand (you still need to keep one hand on the wheel!) - but as self-driving cars become a reality, gesture control could come into its own with a variety of complex motions.

Next External Airbags

External Airbags

The humble airbag, commercialised by General Motors in the 1970s, has been protecting drivers and passengers from the worst effects of collisions for decades. But the airbags of tomorrow may go a step further by shielding pedestrians, other road users and the car itself from the impact.

External airbags, like the ones being developed by TRW Automotive, can be fitted to the side of a car - traditionally one of the most vulnerable areas in a crash - and, using radar and camera systems, deploy milliseconds before impact to absorb the blow. Meanwhile, cars like the Volvo V40 feature airbags designed to protect pedestrians, by covering the bonnet and windscreen with a soft cushion that deploys when a collision with the front bumper is detected.

Another novel development sees airbags fitted beneath the front of the car which inflate and act as an ‘anchor’ in an emergency stop, helping to slow the vehicle down enough to mitigate an impact. This also has the effect of raising the car’s front by several inches, counteracting the downward lurch that makes sudden stops especially dangerous for drivers and passengers.

In theory, the cars of the future should be involved in far fewer accidents anyway due to them being far more intelligent than today’s - but technology like this will act as a vital failsafe if anything goes wrong.

Next Engine And Battery

Engine And Battery

Vehicles make a significant contribution to the modern world’s carbon footprint: it’s estimated that domestic transport alone accounts for as much as a quarter of the UK’s emissions.

But the good news is that vehicle emissions are falling, and there’s every reason to think they’ll continue to do so, as automakers work hard on more efficient engines - ones that either use dramatically less petrol fuel, or other sources of power altogether.

A huge number of greener alternatives to the modern petrol engine have been proposed, from engines that run on biodiesel - which can be produced renewably from naturally-occurring plant oils - to fuel cells that use hydrogen gas to drive an electric motor.

One of the more inventive proposals is the Dearman engine - the brainchild of British engineer Peter Dearman, which uses liquid nitrogen and a heat exchanger to produce compressed gas. This gas rapidly expands to power a motor - and it’s all completely carbon-free.

Today, electric engines like the one shown here seem to offer the most realistic path to a carbon-neutral future, especially once technologies like lithium-air batteries and superconducting materials have fully matured.

However, we could see a whole range of clean fuels powering the cars of tomorrow, from electric to bio to hydrogen - and beyond.

Next Advanced Materials

Advanced Materials

In automotive engineering, lighter is almost always better. The lighter a material can be while still maintaining the necessary strength, the less energy is required to move the car – and the greener and cheaper to operate the end result will be.

Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers – CFRPs for short – are advanced plastics that can be made lighter and stronger than steel. Though they’re currently limited to aeroplanes and high-end racers due to their high cost, there's every reason to believe these materials will be the future of mainstream cars.

Meanwhile, innovations like self-healing car paint, which uses biological compounds to re-knit any surface abrasions in a matter of hours, could make your motor virtually scratch-proof.

Further in the future, carbon nanotube composites could offer even greater efficiency and strength. Carbon nanotubes are the strongest flexible materials known to exist, and that’s just one of their amazing properties - they’re also incredible conductors of heat and electricity, meaning they could be used in a car’s electrical systems and fuel cells as well as its structural components.

With materials like these, tomorrow’s cars - or their chassis, at least - could be lightweight enough to pick up by hand, but so strong as to be virtually indestructible.

Next Sensors

Sensors

Just like we need to see and hear to get around safely, modern cars have an amazing array of sensors underpinning features like lane keeping and parking assistance. In fact, your engine alone has dozens of sensors monitoring things like running temperature, oxygen levels and throttle position.

As cars become more intelligent, the number and sophistication of sensors will only go up. Today’s self-driving vehicles normally use a combination of radar, lidar and camera to build a high-resolution computer image of the surrounding area, which helps them to navigate safely and react to dangers much faster than a human driver would.

Lidar, which uses narrow laser beams to scan and map an area, is expected to be one of the most important ranging technologies for the autonomous cars of the future. It’s currently expensive and bulky (it’s that strange, bowling ball-sized ‘helmet’ you see on Google cars) but advances are being made all the time.

In late 2016, Californian company Quanergy announced the first ever solid-state lidar system, which is much smaller, cheaper and has a longer range compared to cheaper systems. Leddar - an emerging form of optical detection that uses LEDs instead of lasers - is also potentially much more accurate.

Next Autonomy Intelligence

Autonomy Intelligence

Depending on who you listen to, self-driving cars are coming in 30 years, 20 years, ten years or even five. What's beyond doubt is that they are coming – and once they truly take off, they'll change the world.

Imagine sitting back for a nap on your commute to work, or your car taking itself off to be serviced while you shop. Or fleets or self-driving taxis constantly circulating around a city - just hop in one, swipe your card and tell it where to go.

The artificial intelligence underlying self-driving cars is powered by ‘deep learning’: it'll learn from its own experience and the experience of others, just like people do. This adaptability means that – in theory – self-driving cars will become safer and better the longer they spend on the roads.

Google and Tesla are well-known for being at the cutting edge of autonomous driving, but traditional automakers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota aren’t lagging behind either. While there’ll certainly be a lengthy transitional period - where cars drive with a high degree of autonomy but humans still need to take the wheel from time to time - in time, it’s possible the steering wheel could disappear completely.

The biggest barriers autonomous cars face today aren't technological, but regulatory. Road legislation all over the world never anticipated cars that could think and drive themselves, and many questions – like who's responsible in the event of an accident – need to be answered before our self-driving future becomes a reality.

Next Versatile Interiors

Versatile Interiors

The interior layout of our cars has changed very little over the years – but innovations in seating could pave the way to more flexible and spacious environments than ever.

Seating that can intelligently adapt to the number of people in the car, and even self-adjust to match the legroom needs of individual passengers, would take a lot of the pain out of those long car journeys.

Some designs push this idea to extremes. The Taihoo 2046 concept, created by Chinese student Huang Hao, features a mesh interior that folds out into an in-car hammock - and the rear seats can be folded down to turn the vehicle into a camping tent.

Meanwhile, its acrylic bubble window doubles up as a projector screen - perfect for catching a movie before turning in for the night. While the Taihoo 2046 might seem far-fetched, it’s almost certain that car interiors will see radical redesigns as vehicles become increasingly autonomous.

By the time there’s no need for a person at the wheel, the interior space could serve any number of purposes - a miniature office, an entertainment centre or even a mobile home.

Next Omnidirectional Wheels

Omnidirectional Wheels

For centuries, we’ve accepted that wheels go forward and back - but what about cars that can shimmy diagonally and side-to-side?

In fact, something like the omnidirectional wheels on your office chair could be coming to your car sooner than you think. The Liddiard wheel, named after its Canadian inventor, can be fitted to any car without the need any additional enhancements - they’re described as ‘all-way drive’ technology that lets a car drive in any direction, or even turn circles on the spot.

The wheels use a series of rollers mounted around the edge of the rim plate, and motorised spin rollers on the hub. With the aid of a specially-designed tyre that rotates with the rollers, any car can be kitted out with the ability to move sideways when needed - when parking or changing lanes, for example.

In 2016, Goodyear unveiled the Eagle-360, a spherical concept tyre that abandons the wheel and axle in favour of four rubber balls. Not only would these allow the car to drive omnidirectionally, but the sponge-like spheres use magnetic levitation - with the car actually hovering slightly above its wheels by magnetic force - to reduce the need for suspension and provide a smoother experience.

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About Car Technology Revolution

Overview

What does the future hold for motorists? ingenie examined a range of technologies, from windscreen displays to advances in automotive intelligence, to create this three-dimensional model of tomorrow’s automobile.

Cleaner, smarter and full of features, our vision of a futuristic car is based on real-world technologies that are in development today.

“With a self-driving revolution around the corner and cars getting smarter and more efficient every day, it’s an exciting time to be a motorist. While we can’t say for sure how closely our vision of the car of tomorrow will resemble the reality, it’s a certainty that big changes are ahead - both our vehicles, and the ways we use them.”
“While we can’t say for sure how closely our vision of the car of tomorrow will resemble all cars of the future, it’s a certainty that big changes are ahead – both for our vehicles, and the way we use them.”

- Mike Ketteringham, CEO of ingenie

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  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/1-car-of-today.jpg" alt="Car of today" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/2-car-of-the-future.jpg" alt="Car of the Future" width="100%">
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  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/4-active-window-display.jpg" alt="Active window display" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/5-biometric-access.jpg" alt="Biometric Access" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/6-gesture-control.jpg" alt="Gesture control" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/7-external-airbags.jpg" alt="External Airbags" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/8-engine-and-battery.jpg" alt="Engine and Battery" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/9-advanced-materials.jpg" alt="Advance Materials" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/10-sensors.jpg" alt="Sensors" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/11-autonomy-intelligence.jpg" alt="Autonomy Intelligence" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/12-versatile-interiors.jpg" alt="Versatile Interiors" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/13-versatile-interiors.jpg" alt="Versatile Interiors" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/14-versatile-interiors.jpg" alt="Versatile Interiors" width="100%">
  • <img src="http://www.ingenie.com/future-car-revolution/assets/img/press/15-omnidirectional-wheels.jpg" alt="Omnidirectional Wheels" width="100%">

The automobile’s come a long way since the Model T - and it’s got a long and exciting future ahead. If you’ve enjoyed exploring the car of tomorrow, please share it with your friends.