The automotive industry is changing fast as it heads to its ultimate goal of having driverless cars. That is something that could happen, and several are working on that idea, but there are some very real changes in how we drive that should be in place by the year 2020. A completely autonomous car with absolutely no driver interaction is still several years away, but autonomous cars that have some driver involvement should be in the road by the end of the decade. Already there is some of this happening.
A Business Insider tech article says there will be millions of self driving cars by 2020. However, it defines self driving to mean that it can steer and brake on its own, but the driver is still involved in the driving. The story says there could be some cars on the road by then that will not have a driver at all, which would be a truly driverless car. These would be driven in places like rural interstates.
A more immediate change in automotive technology is the move to electric-powered automobiles. There are some all-electric cars now but they do not go far on a single charge and are usually small cars.
For mid-sized sedans like the Toyota Camry, there is a movement toward electricity. The Toyota Camry, as well as the Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Malibu, will have the option of driving in electric only in hybrid cars. In the 2015 model of the Toyota Camry for instance, you can drive in electric only or a combination of electric and gas. The limitation is that you may only drive in electric only mode if there is some gas in the tank. There is hope at Toyota that this car will have an all-electric option by 2020.
According to Business Insider, Tesla currently has the only electric car that will go 200 miles on a single charge. Volkswagen and GM are just two of several companies that say they will be competing at that level by 2020.
Tesla is planning to release a car in 2017 that will exceed the 200 miles on a charge barrier, and will go from zero to 60 in six seconds. Tesla says it will release an all-electric car in 2019 that will get up to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds.
GM is planning on having a car that will be in the 200 mile range by next year. Audi is planning to release an SUV in 2019 that will get 300 miles on a single charge, and will charge up in 15 minutes. Volkswagen says it will have one that will go 230 miles on a single charge by 2020.
Some technology is already making us safer, and that continues to develop at a fast pace. We have cars that help you avoid swerving into another lane, and cars that will self-brake to stop you from hitting something. At present you have to be going slow, but that could get even better. Cameras also can now give you back and side views when you drive. These advances should get even better and become more standard on automobiles in the coming years.
There is also the idea of driver override, which means a car could put on the brakes even if you were trying to not let it stop. Increases in sensor technology could make this possible by 2020.
Vehicle entry and starting could get a bit more high tech as well. By 2020 there could be cars that you can enter and start simply by putting your finger on a sensor. Fingerprint technology can use the same technology now in use on cell phones.
Driver tracking is perhaps a downside to technology, as it has a dark side attached. It would not be that hard to do, and with GPS technology, insurance companies could start tracking vehicles. This could be a safety feature, but it also smacks of big brother watching every move you make. One positive aspect is that it could track down and shut down a stolen car quickly.
Health monitoring could also be in use by 2020, where your car could monitor your heart rate and vital statistics. It could stop the car, park it, and notify rescue workers all by itself.