The year is 2020. It’s cold outside, so before you leave the office you turn on your car’s heater with your smartphone. As soon as you enter your car, the intelligent infotainment centre automatically selects your favourite music to play during the drive home, and the car pulls away without you needing to do anything.
The good thing to know is there’s no need to stop for petrol as the car has been drawing power from the building while it was parked, and is now fully charged. Soon it joins the motorway and drives safely in a close proximity with other cars – almost bumper-to-bumper, and close enough to alarm a driver from the year 2014. But you’re not alarmed: you know your car is constantly communicating with other vehicles, the road, traffic monitoring systems and its own sensors, and will respond faster than any human if another vehicle brakes or swerves.
This world of intelligent, self-driving cars is closer to reality than you might think. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, recently said: "By 2020, aided by wireless and cloud-based technologies, Nissan will offer our customers enhanced safety and a wide variety of new conveniences like accident-avoiding driving intervention technologies, electric vehicle charging reservations, or a music player that adapts to the listener's moods."
You need only look at Nissan’s current line-up of cars to get a glimpse of how some of these technologies might work in practice. The Note, Qashqai and X-Trail and several other vehicles all come with innovative Nissan Safety Shield features – the building blocks of the car of the future.
The Lane Departure Warning System, for example, sounds alerts to sleepy or distracted drivers if they’re creeping outside their lane. Like the Blind Spot Warning and Moving Object Detection systems, which are designed to prevent collisions with other vehicles and anything darting behind the car as you’re reversing, it makes use of a single, intelligent self-cleaning camera on the rear of the car.
“If you look at the level of technology in our cars compared to our competitors, we are offering an amount of premium technology in terms of navigation or connected cars from all entry points,” says Guillaume Masurel, Marketing Director at Nissan Motor GB. “We’re always trying to push boundaries and making them accessible.”
These technologies also include Forward Emergency Braking and Emergency Steering systems, which can take control of a car in moments of crisis. Nissan has also demonstrated a car that can drive through a junction without hitting traffic, as well as a prototype autonomous LEAF that can automatically change lanes, overtake slower or stopped vehicles, stop at red lines, and more. An array or lasers, radar and cameras allows it to detect objects from 650ft away, and provides it with a 360 degree awareness of its surroundings – an ability known as ‘computer vision’.
Autonomous cars will eventually be able to connect with roads, traffic lights, junctions and smart transport systems throughout the course of a journey. Information about driving conditions, closures, queues and even landmarks could be relayed to the driver by an augmented reality windscreen, with the car able to suggest and select alternative routes.
In the near-term, all new cars in Europe will be required to alert the emergency services if their on-board sensors detect that a crash has occurred, and more people are likely to install event data recorders (EDRs) that monitor their driving habits, allowing them to benefit from reduced insurance premiums. Nissan has also announced a smartwatch for drivers of Nissan Nismo cars, which can capture biometric data via a heart rate monitor and other such features which one day could vastly change how we interact with our cars.
Touchscreen dashboard ‘infotainment’ systems are bound to become more advanced in the future, as autonomous cars free us from the need to operate the car’s controls. NissanConnect is already one of the smartest systems available, bringing apps to the dash and allowing you to stay connected to the outside world from inside your car. Nissan have even made it possible for LEAF owners to communicate with their car remotely by using a phone app which can check the status of the battery, activating the heater prior to getting in, finding local charging stations, and more.
Smartphone apps that let you instruct your car to park itself are also in development, along with wireless charging parking spaces for electric vehicles and ‘Vehicle-To-Building’ energy transfer systems. If there’s a fault with your vehicle you might even be able to fix it by downloading software over the internet rather than taking it to a garage. That might seem futuristic now, but one day it will be the norm for millions of drivers – including you, perhaps.
Culled from MSN News.