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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Throughout the years we have constantly witnessed the evolution of technology in cars, whether it’s a car that runs on electricity or simply a car with a keyless entry system. With new technology released all of the time, we are going to take a look at five of the exciting new car features that have either been produced in recent memory, released in a different form or just concepts that hopefully will be brought to life in the new future.

Tablets in cars
Want to be able to read news, listen to music and play with apps in your car? With a tablet installed in your car, you can do just that.
Currently, some car manufacturers have jumped onto the ever-expanding tablet bandwagon and have installed tablet-like touchscreens on their cars dashboards. Renault has shown off their R-Link system, which is a seven-inch touchscreen mounted in what Renault call a ‘tablet’, whilst Tesla wowed the public with its massive seventeen-inch touchscreen featuring in the impressive Tesla Model S.

Although these ‘tablets’ are currently a reality in today’s cars, we wonder when you will be able to use any tablet in a car, such as the Apple iPad or the Microsoft Surface. Being able to dock any tablet onto your dashboard and using apps similar to those currently offered by the aforementioned manufacturers would be great for drivers, as you would be able to have your own personal tablet with your own personal apps and games.

With touchscreens already present in some current cars, and other vehicles having similar high-tech systems, perhaps it won’t be too long before we see the option to have your own personal tablet on your car’s dashboard.

Folding cars
Yes, you read that right. Folding cars have been a concept ever since the Hiriko Fold burst onto the scenes with its ability to retract its body from 2.5m to 1.5m, in order to park more easily. The Hiriko Fold also weighs less than 1,100lb and each of its four wheels can turn 60 degrees left or right, allowing the car to travel sideways and parallel park much more easily (we can hear you all scream with delight).

Hiriko built their groundbreaking car with two-seats and a lithium-ion battery pack, as they designed the vehicle to be used for short-distance urban trips intended for car sharing. The all-electric microcar was also classed as the first entirely electric vehicle by the Hiriko Driving Mobility consortium.

As this car is already a reality, and will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013 with retail deliveries scheduled to being in 2014, we are that other car manufacturers will try to emulate Hiriko’s ‘folding’ car and come up with new and inventive ways to elaborate on the design.
The future looks bright, the future looks folded.

Self-driving cars
Any project being undertaken by Google is worth taking a look at. In this case, the focus is on the ‘Google driverless car’, which has been tested and equipped in cars over in America for the past few years.

Google has retrofitted numerous different cars with their ‘driverless car’ technology, consisting of six Toyota Prius, an Audi TT and three Lexus RX450h. They also announced last year that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles accident-free.
Google’s driverless test cars have approximately $150,000 worth of equipment on-board the vehicles, including a $70,000 laser radar system. The price of the current equipment is possibly one of the main reasons why Google are not planning to commercially release the system anytime soon.

Good news for the company came about in June 2011 when the US state of Nevada passed a law permitting the operation of driverless cars in Nevada and California, with Florida following suit afterwards.
Although Google has no immediate plans to commercially develop the system, I’m sure that everyone is hoping for more US states, and other countries, to allow the driverless cars to operate on-road. Perhaps the car of the future really is on our doorstep.

Mood cars
Research suggests that an angry or upset driver is less alert to any potential hazards on the road, such as a child stepping out onto the road. In order to combat this, Toyota is designing groundbreaking safety technology that will react to the driver’s mood and adjust how the car reacts when faced with a potential hazard.
The way Toyota’s technology works is by deciding whether the driver is sad, happy, angry or neutral (like a quartet that would fit in an old Disney animation) before assessing how distracted they are as a result. The technology used a camera to identify facial emotions by taking readings from 238 points on the driver’s face.
If the system picks up that the driver may be distracted due to his or her emotions, then the system would sound an alert sooner than if the driver was considered to have a neutral expression.

Although Toyota has been working on the technology since 2006, they have yet to provide a firm date for when the system will be in production. However, their senior manager of advanced technology has expressed that the ‘basic research should be complete within two to three years’, whilst some of the elements of the system ‘could start to be available in around six years time’.

Mobile phone control
Running aspects of your car via mobile phone seems like a distant concept, but in reality, it’s a concept that is available at the present time of asking.
The Nissan Leaf currently employs an advanced telematics system called ‘Carwings’ which sends and receives data via a built-in GPRS radio similar to the connectivity of mobile phones. With the use of a smart phone application, owners of a Leaf can remotely turn on the heater or air-conditioner in their car, as well as reset charging functions even when the vehicle is powered down.

With the smart phone market ever expanding, it’s no surprise that other companies are developing similar systems that allow you to connect with your car via your smart phone of choice.

American company Connect2car offer remote ‘cellphone’ (or mobile phone for all UK readers) security, tracking and control from anywhere worldwide. With one of their smart phone applications, as well as having the system installed in your vehicle, you can start/stop your car, lock/unlock your cars door and roll the windows up/down.

Additionally, you can track your vehicle from anywhere with real-time GPS tracking, as well as monitoring your car’s security from anywhere. Be assured that similar technology will be produced in the near-future thanks to the acclaim of the aforementioned technology.

Author Bio:
This article was written by Glenn Doyle from MotorTorque - a UK based automotive website dealing with car news, reviews, guides, blogs and videos.

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