Few could have imagined a journey in a car at the advent of the motorcar.
From its origins in the Victorian era – the age of discovery – the public began to swoon at the vehicles on offer. Gone were the days of the horse and cart.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and ideas born out of science fiction are becoming a reality. Driverless cars are weaving their way silently through some of the UK’s busiest roads. You may have already spotted one in Bristol, Milton Keynes or Oxford.
As we reach a new era of motor engineering and science, what will the future look like for drivers?
Here’s what we have discovered:
What is a driverless car?
The idea of an AV (autonomous vehicle) driving around may make you feel a bit uneasy. However, as the motor industry develops its understanding of how AV’s will function on our roads, there are a lot of factors to be considered.
First off, an AV needs to be “aware” of its surroundings. Once this is achieved, AVs also need to be able to negotiate roads legally while avoiding other vehicles and pedestrians. As you can imagine, there is still a lot for the motor industry to overcome – morally and technologically. In a nutshell, we’re not quite there yet!
Although AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) have seen many advancements, the UK will only currently test these cars with a pilot present. Essentially, an insurance policy if things go wrong!
What sort of engine will the cars of the future have?
In recent years the UK and indeed the world has seen an increase in electric vehicles. As greener living became the forefront of most governments minds and championed by the likes of Elon Musk, it’s no wonder that Tesla and others are becoming the norm on our streets!
The goal is to reduce pollution and our consumption of fossil fuels, so naturally, the electric motor will be at the heart of the future vehicle.
With our current motor engine burning around 20-30% of fuel, powerful heat energy is wasted through the cooling system and exhaust. So, turning to an electric motor would convert that heat energy to power the vehicle instead. Ergo, longer-lasting vehicles and better for the environment!
Don’t forget the hybrid
As future prospects go, you can’t ignore the rise of the hybrid. A cross between a petrol or diesel engine that uses a spark and compression ignition to burn fuel, this baby may be a massive feature of the years to come.
With a mindblowing amount of technical opportunities, the hybrid may be filling the streets of the future for the average motorist. Efficient and long lasting, the hybrid could be seen using a blend of fossil and synthetic fuels to get its passengers from A to B.
Will we still be filling our cars with petrol and diesel?
Oil industry predictions of the past suggested that there would be a global shortage of oil by 2040. The assumption was that oil-producing areas would be drying up and that prices to extract would be astronomical.
In a complete reversal, BP believes that fossil fuels are going to be much cheaper and easier to extract than predicted. BP has estimated that there are 4.8 trillion barrels of oil and gas that are attainable by using our current technology to extract. 2.5 trillion barrels would become available to cope with the projected demand by 2050.
With our advancements in technology, it is believed that a further 2.7 trillion barrels could be found too. Mind Blowing isn’t it?
All of this is without even considering the rise of sustainable biomass, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and synthetic liquid fuel made from Miscanthus grass.
What about recharging?
Anyone that currently owns an electric or hybrid car will have met the recharging stumbling block. Carefully planning your journey to make sure you know where all the charging stations are along the way is undoubtedly a bugbear for some!
Presently, time is not on the side of the EV (electric vehicle.) As the race is on to develop more sustainable, cheaper and higher energy storage capacity for the EV battery, the future’s looking bright. No longer will 100 miles be your limit for each drive! Instead, you will be able to take your EV out for 100s of miles before even thinking about hooking up to a dock.
One thing is for sure, the future of driving looks very different from the Victorian age. With technological advancements growing daily, it won’t be long before you see a shift in the motor industry again. What vehicle will you be driving in 2040?