What will cars really look like by 2050?

We take a peek into the genuine futuristic engineering of road vehicles to see what we could be driving when we head towards the middle of this century. Here are 7 real features car manufacturers are currently working on for future travel. 6. Augmented Reality Head-Up Displays With augmented reality now available in the mass market through the likes of Google glasses, engineers are currently working out ways to include it in vehicles. What we are likely to see is digitalised versions of key information, such as Sat Navs, speedometers, fuel gauges etc appear on our dashboard as soon as we turn the ignition on. 5. Designs will be broad, low and lightweight That’s right, the car designs you see in Minority Report will most likely reflect what we will be driving around in sooner, rather than later. Future designs being drawn up by most big manufacturers all share three things in common; they are broader than today’s designs, they are lower than today’s designs and they weigh a hell of a lot less. These designs aren’t just about appearances though. Designers are cutting weight to improve performance and efficiency while the broader design will help with interior space which will make travelling a lot more comfortable. The low designs will improve aerodynamics. The fact that they will look great is surely just a bonus.

When will we see this in reality? Cars of this ilk are already on the road but we will see a mass influx of them about 10-years from now. 4. Self Driving Cars Yep. Just like in Minority Report. Engineers are claiming to be very close to going to mass market with self-driving cars, but surely it is some years off yet before we see cars driving passengers around with their feet up. Google engineers are already testing out self-driving cars in California on public roads. These cars record images on the roads as well as traffic lights so have the discipline to move around without getting involved in accidents.

When will we see this in reality? Google claim these cars could be on the road by 2020 but my research tells me they are getting ahead of themselves. It may be nearer 2030 before we can put our feet up while traveling and even at that, it will only be for the very rich few. 3. Synthetic liquid fuel At the turn of the millennium the oil industry warned that petrol will become overwhelmingly expensive by the year 2040. “Cars will be electrified in some way and the engine may no longer be the primary drive; its role would be to support an electric motor”, says Ricardo’s chief technical officer, Neville Jackson. This has been disputed though as BP claim that oil won’t become a fuel that is too expensive for the average consumer. Eitherway, it seems as if a switch from petrol is inevitable and while Sugar Cane is being talked about as a genuine alternative to run engines, Fischer-Tropsch’s synthetic liquid fuel seems to have an edge with testing already being carried out. It could take a few decades though to be mainstream.

When will we see this in reality? We will probably be in the 30’s decade by the time this is the norm. 2. Self-fixing cars This sounds like a joke, but in actuality the invention of self-fixing materials are already being tested in cars. A number of leading Universities have already developed coatings for vehicles that repair themselves when the paintwork is chipped or the substance is dented. However, the materials used are so expensive right now that we are unlikely to see this in the mass market for another 25-years at least. But rest assured, this invention is constantly being studied and considered by leading car manufacturers.

When will we see this in reality? Elastic resin coats are being used today in manufacturing, which helps with scratches but we are still along way off genuine self-fixing materials. But by 2040 we could be in business with the likes of Kwik-Fit out of business. 1. Flying cars Really? Eh…kind of, yeah. A Slovakian company are already planning to release a flying car within the next few years, though their design has a wing span of 20-feet, so it is totally impractical and looks more like a small airplane than a car. “It’s a work in progress,” they tell us. But how long that process will be is anyone’s guess at this stage. Even if compact vehicles do have the ability to fly in the future, the change in infrastructure to suit this way of travelling could take another lifetime to concoct. However, the BBC reported last year that flying cars will be a reality at some point with manufacturers certain to head down that road in the future.

When will we see this in reality? You and I are likely to see flying cars in our lifetimes with prototypes being built all the time but we won’t see the infrastructure in place to see them in the mass market. We’ll be long gone before that’s a reality, I’m afraid.