Will 2018 bring a robot uprising led by artificially intelligent driverless cars bent on world domination? Probably not.
But technology is changing cars faster than ever before. Look into a crystal ball with us as we explore technologies that could have the biggest impact on cars and trucks in 2018.
Mobile apps like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay let drivers answer texts and play music using voice commands, buttons on the steering wheel and the dashboard touch screen. But that’s old news compared to the Genesis Augmented Reality Manual, a virtual owner’s manual developed by Hyundai’s luxury arm. It shows an owner how a car part works as they point a phone or tablet at it. While Wi-Fi hotspots that give passengers internet access are increasingly popular in new cars, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator takes it a step further by letting riders stream live TV to the dual-screen rear entertainment system.
“Safety features aren’t just for rich folks anymore,” said AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul. In fact, new regulations that take effect in May require all new cars to have backup cameras, a feature considered a luxury not long ago. Of course, some features in 2018 make backup cameras look prehistoric. Computers in the Lexus LS and Volvo XC60 can take over steering to help avoid collisions. With Super Cruise in the Cadillac CT6, a driver can take his or her hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals and the car will automatically keep a safe distance and stay centered between lane markings.
Driverless cars are being built across the country by established automakers like Ford and newcomers like Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project. Waymo has tested its driverless cars on 10,000 miles of public roads out West and logs 10 million virtual miles daily. The company recently announced it would expand its tests into Michigan, where its cars can experience wintry conditions. General Motors also has plans to test automated Chevrolet Bolts in Manhattan in early 2018.
Of course, designers have not ignored the technology under the hood. In 2018, automakers are practically giving horsepower away, Paul said. And many are upping the ponies with smaller turbocharged engines, as opposed to the hefty V-8s of yesteryear. Some will pair these engines with 10-speed automatic transmissions designed for smooth shifts and better fuel economy. Keep an eye on electric cars, too, said Heather Storm, co-host of “Garage Squad” on the Velocity network. “Personally, I like a really sporting-looking car, so I’m really excited about the Fisker EMotion,” Storm said. “It will have a 400-mile range and the ability to charge to 125 miles in nine minutes. That is better than any electric vehicle on the market today.”
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