Navel-gazing foretells the future of automotive technology

Automotive News sat down with its crystal ball and industry contacts to come up with a list of emerging technologies that are likely to find a place in the cars of tomorrow. While some, like steer-by-wire and new takes on the digital dash, have been discussed ad nauseum, others proved a bit more interesting.

The image above is a rendering of what "bumper bags" might look like, where traditional airbags are used on the exterior of SUVs to soften the blow to both passengers and low-riders alike. Biometrics are also likely to replace traditional keys and fobs in the future, with either a fingerprint or retinal scan deterring unauthorized use of the vehicle – no good for the youngins out for a late night cruise.

Inevitably, hydrogen power and individual motors mounted in the wheel wells make an appearance, although a system currently under development by Siemens VDO includes not just motors, but the steering rack, shock absorbers and brake parts all integrated directly into the wheel.

Some of this technology is already being employed, including a facial recognition system used on the Lexus LS 460 that detects when the driver isn't paying attention to the road, while the rest of the prognostications are quoted by AN to come to market "after 2010," which could mean 2011 or something like 2091.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]

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