Future Cars: 9 things I think will be on cars within 20 years.

I've read many articles and posts expressing opinions on where the automotive world will be in 20 years time. Some have bean dead-on, others have been miles off. While mine aren't based on any fact, news story or even inside information from the manufacturers, here are my predictions for what we'll see on cars in the next 20 years.

1.) Self-Driving Cars will be developed further. Within 15 years, they should be advanced enough to be as safe and competent as the most advanced human drivers. Riding to work in the back seat of your car while the car drives itself, drops you off at the curb at work, and then drives off to park itself will be a normal thing. Cars will also get themselves to fueling stations once they hit a certain threshold minimum fuel level. (owner wil be able to adjust this.)

2.) Diesel Hybrids: Diesel is incredibly popular in Europe. Many small diesel cars are seeing average fuel economies of 45 - 50 mpg's, and up to 80 in some situations. Pair that with a proper hybrid system, and you could see up 150 - 200 mpg's in small cars, annd close to 80mpg's on larger vehicles.

3.) Electric All-Wheel-Drive hybrids: We're already seeing some of this, but it'll become more popular as the  processes are improved and cost goes down. We'll eventually see electric cars with a motor for each wheel, integrating brakes and propulsion into one unit. Depending on how it's executed, it could cut down on unsprung weight, improving handling. Pair this with the Diesel hybrid technology, and you'll have a decently fast, economical car.

4.) Auto-dimming windows: Eventually, all of the windows in cars will consist of 2 layers of glass sandwiched between plastic for strength and safety. Between the glass will be Liquid Crystal that can be darkened, creating variable tint. Based on ambient light sensor data, and other data collected from the driver monitoring systems integrated into the dash, the windshield and side windows will automatically dim when oncoming headlights are present, and when driving east or west, to reduce the blinding effect caused by the low sun.

5.) Driver Monitoring: There will be systems in place to monitor the operator, looking for signs of fatigue, monitoring heart rate and such. Sensors in the steering wheel, similar to those found on gym equipment, will monitor the drivers heart rate, and if need be, cann emergency response, giving the vehicles GPS Coordinates. When the car senses that the driver might be drowsy, it'll take measures to keep the driver awake by adjusting the climate control, pulsing the massagers in the seat, and such.

6.) Advanced Lane Departure: Cameras in the front bumpers of cars will monitor the lines in the road. If it detects a double yellow, it will not enable the car to steer into the next lane to the left (or right lane in areas that drive on the left.). It'll also turn on the appropriate turn signal based on the lane the car is entering.

7.) Modular Platforms: Eventually, we'll see modular vehicle platforms that will be used on a wide variety of vehicles. Simple steel-framed backbones will consist of engine or motors, batteries or fuel tank or both, suspension, steering, electronics and everything else a car requires to run. Then, various bodies can be added based on the needs of the consumer. This is by no means a new idea, but we'll actually see it within 15 years.

8.) Inexpensive composite bodies: Currently, in certain areas, a car only lasts as long as it's body holds together. Rust tends to drastically shorten a vehicles life, not to mention adds difficulty in servicing. Eventually, we'll see composite underbodies. More than likely, Fiberglass-reinforced plastic will be the most common, as it's cheaper to work with. Brake lines, brake cables, wiring and fuel lines will be shielded from the weather in sealed channels.

9.) Automatic Transactions: Like the speedpass for tollbooths, cars of the future will have an automatic payment system. As you pull into a fueling station, sensors in the pumps will recognize your cars signature, and approve payment for the fuel, after the operator approves it on the central information screen. The system will work at toll booths, parking areas and similar.

Any thoughts, comments or concerns? comment, please.

-Phil