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Cars of the Future

  • 4-19-2012

Cars of the Future

Light-transmitting roof collecting solar energy, driverless vehicles and flying cars – just a few of the innovations you may see on the roads in the near future.

The future of electric mobility

Without a shadow of a doubt, electric cars will play a leading role in the near future: it is not just a coincidence that almost all major automotive manufacturers have already created their own electric, or at least hybrid, car. Making headway, Daimler in cooperation with chemical company BASF developed smart forvision, a zero-emission electric vehicle featuring a wide range of innovative solutions. The futuristic design hides a lot of pioneering technologies, the majority of which are based on nanotechnology. The lightweight composite materials used for the unique design show toughness and good continuous operating characteristics, and in addition to offering the same extent of safety, weight can be reduced significantly

Watch our video about the smart forvision electric car:

Solar (energy) roof

One of the revolutionary innovations in smart forvision is the power-generating light-transmitting roof made of hexagonal areas: the entire roof surface is covered by transparent solar cells. The cells are based on light-sensitive organic dyes embedded in a sandwich roof, and the transparent dyes of the solar cells are light-activated. Even in diffused light and poor light conditions, the cells generate enough energy to power multimedia components and the three fans that assist with climate management in the vehicle interior.

And there is even more! Under the solar cells transparent OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) illuminate the vehicle interior when the door is opened or a button pressed. When switched off, they allow for a clear view for outside. This results in a glass roof effect during the daytime, while the areas are pleasantly illuminated without any dazzle at night.

Innovative components

However, you don’t need to say goodbye to petrol-powered vehicles just yet – all you need to do is use a wide range of special components that will make them more efficient, energy-saving and environment friendly. BASF continuously focuses on developing products that support sustainable urban mobility. One of its innovations is the environment friendly catalyst, which features a multistep chemical reaction while in operation. During this process, the three key compounds in the emission system (hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide) are almost completely converted into carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water.

Addressing other challenges in electric cars, the chemical company is developing batteries that provide a greater driving range. BASF is primarily developing a portfolio of application-specific cathode materials used in lithium-ion batteries. The company’s goal is to come up with energy-resource solutions offering a performance two or even five times higher than that of traditional batteries.

A vehicle that drives itself

Who has seen David Hasselhoff and his speaking and automated high-tech car, KITT in the Knight Rider television series may have an idea of how our own car will serve us in the future: it may fill itself with petrol; after dropping us at the desired location, it may go and find a parking place, or it may get itself repaired in a garage. Well, this may happen in the not so remote future, as self-driving prototypes have already been introduced in Germany and America.

One of them is Google’s transformed Toyota Prius. Programmed by the telephone-enabled QR code, the in-car system follows the desired route by making use of a GPS system and the Google Maps, and drives itself without human intervention with the use of an automatic parking system, an automatic speed-control system and a wide range of additional electric equipment. The driverless car is full of special telemetric devices based on laser technology, radars and cameras to get a full picture about the surrounding environment.

Based on similar concepts, an autonomous taxi is being developed in Germany. Named MIG, the intelligent car can be activated with a simple phone call. After the phone call the car identifies the exact location of and plans the fastest route to the caller with the use of a GPS system. Then it notifies the caller about its estimated time of arrival.

Flying car

You won’t have to wait long until you need your driving as well as your private pilot licence when going to work: as a matter of fact, the marketing of the world’s first light roadable aircraft has been officially approved, and the in-line production will begin in the near future.

Source: Terrafugia

It takes Terrafugia’s Transition 30 seconds to convert from a normal car into a two-seat light aircraft. Taking off with a full tank, the vehicle has a flight range of 644km and a cruising flight speed of 185km/h. To take off, the aircraft needs a 500m long runway, and it has a load capacity of approx. 200kg.

The aircraft is extremely easy to fly, and to become a pilot you need as little as 20 hours of flight time, which can multiply the number of potential customers. Well, of those who can afford such a vehicle retailing for USD 200,000.

Check out the roadable aircraft in operation:


Did you know?

It is not true that electric cars are slow. Toyota Motorsport EV P001, the world’s fastest electrically powered car featuring 375 horsepower can accelerate to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds, and its final speed reaches 260km/h.