Crazy Changes Coming to Cars
TARIK KIZILKAYA/istockphoto

14 Car Innovations We Could See in the Next Decade (And One We Won't)

View Slideshow
Crazy Changes Coming to Cars
TARIK KIZILKAYA/istockphoto

The Road to the Future is Paved

A lot can happen in a decade — particularly in the anything-goes world of automobiles. What America's highways will look like in 10 years is anybody's guess, but some guesses are more educated than others. Here's a look at some car-related trends that are likely, some that are all but certain, and a few others that seemed probable just a few years back, but are now turning out to be the stuff of vehicular fantasy. (For a quick history lesson, check out The Best-Selling Cars From the Past 40 Years.)

Augmented Reality Will Change How You View the Road
WayRay

Augmented Reality Will Change How You View the Road

Unlike virtual reality, which is totally immersive, augmented reality overlays visual data on top of the reality you actually see taking place in front of your eyes. In the case of cars, that happens through your windshield. AR hit the big time with the arrival of Pokemon Go, but it's coming to cars — and not in mobile video-game form. The 2020 GMC Sierra already offers an AR rear camera display, and it's all but certain that in the coming decade, windshield-based AR displays will overlay GPS mapping over the actual road and scenery in front of you.

Your Car Will Study Your Face ... And Act Accordingly
SDI Productions/istockphoto

Your Car Will Study Your Face ... And Act Accordingly

Many Americans already use their faces to unlock their phones and gain entry to their computers, and facial recognition software is widely in use by everyone from airport officials to law enforcement agencies. In 2018, Hyundai's luxury Genesis brand used biometrics and facial recognition in a new kind of car. The result gave a glimpse into a future where a driver enters a vehicle, is scanned and recognized as the owner. The car turns on, personalizes the authorized driver's settings, and sets the radio, climate control, and seats to his or her liking. The dawn of that future is already here — and not going anywhere any time soon.

Your Car Will Monitor Your Health
metamorworks/istockphoto

Your Car Will Monitor Your Health

Ford recently began collaborating with a German company to develop what the automaker is calling Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. The technology embeds sophisticated sensors in a very special kind of driver's seat. When the driver sits down, the car instantly begins monitoring the driver's health. An electrocardiography reader measures heart health, a glucose reader monitors blood sugar, and the results are displayed instantly on the dashboard. In the coming decade, cars could become rolling home health aides.

Airbags Will Stop Cars, Not Bodies
MAT Europe

Airbags Will Stop Cars, Not Bodies

Ford and General Motors adopted airbags in the 1970s, and in the decades since, the exploding pillows have saved countless lives and evolved into standard safety features. Now, they're evolving even further. Mercedes-Benz has developed working airbags that deploy not in the car, but under the car. Instead of stopping bodies from smashing into windows and dashboards, they blast out from the front axle when the car senses an imminent crash, lifting the front of the car and stopping the vehicle as a sort of super-emergency brake.

Parallel Parking Will Become a Lost Art
helivideo/istockphoto

Parallel Parking Will Become a Lost Art

As early as 2013, the Hartford Courant was lamenting the death of what had been the bane of new drivers for generations: parallel parking. Thanks to the arrival of computerized parking assist aides, the writing was already on the wall back then: Parallel parking was going the way of cursive handwriting. Fast-forward to 2019, and self-parking cars are a reality. By the end of the decade, you'll be hard-pressed to find a nervous driver realigning to attack a tight parking spot from a better angle as a line of frustrated drivers watches from behind.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Will Save Lives
Jae Young Ju/istockphoto

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Will Save Lives

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication allows cars to wirelessly exchange data about their position and speed with the vehicles around them. Experts believe the technology will be able to prevent or mitigate hundreds of thousands of crashes. Some cars have V2V now, but it needs to be everywhere for its information-exchange capabilities to really work, and soon it will be. By 2023, it's believed that about 60% of new vehicles will have V2V capabilities. That's 62 million vehicles compared to 1.1 million in 2019.

Automated Emergency Braking Will Become Standard
Chesky_W/istockphoto

Automated Emergency Braking Will Become Standard

Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) is a component of V2V, and it actually first arrived in the mid-2000s but was available only in limited or higher-end models. That, however, is changing. In 2016, 20 major automakers reached an agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make AEB standard on all vehicles by 2022 — just in time for the massive influx of V2V-capable cars.

The Death of the Manual Transmission
dusanpetkovic/istockphoto

The Death of the Manual Transmission

In today's market, a stick shift is one of the best theft-deterrent systems a car can have. Two generations of Americans learned to drive on automatics almost exclusively and today, just 2% of all new vehicles come with stick shifts. Automatics are faster, more efficient, produce fewer emissions, and have far more gears. BMW predicts that manual transmissions and double-clutch gearboxes will be gone altogether by 2024.

We'll See More Self-Driving Cars on the Road — Well, Maybe a Few
Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

We'll See More Self-Driving Cars on the Road — Well, Maybe a Few

As recently as 2017, publications like Forbes were predicting the arrival of millions of self-driving cars — 10 million, even — by 2020. Well, 2020 is a few weeks away, and chances are good you've never seen a single autonomous car on the road, and you likely won't—not for a while, at least. The New York Times is just one of many publications that are now spoiling — or at least revising — those expectations. A future where autonomous vehicles are safe, practical, and common is all but certain, but probably not for decades.

Related: The 12 Coolest Concept Cars We'd Love to Drive

Traffic Jam Assist Will Go Mainstream
Audi

Traffic Jam Assist Will Go Mainstream

Audi's traffic-jam assist feature is part of a suite of sensor-assisted technologies that gather information about surrounding traffic conditions and react to it automatically. A sophisticated laser scans the landscape and reports its findings back to the vehicle, which then provides steering, braking, and throttle adjustments to get drivers safely through traffic jams. The bane of the American commuter, traffic jams are likely to become less stressful as this now-elite technology enters the mainstream in the coming decade.

Increased Cybersecurity Will Be Required to Prevent Vehicle Hacking
Chesky_W/istockphoto

Increased Cybersecurity Will Be Required to Prevent Vehicle Hacking

In 2015, a Jeep Cherokee was doing 70 mph when the driver lost all control over the air-conditioner, which started blowing cold air full force. The stereo began blasting hip-hop full volume, and the driver couldn't turn it down or off. Nor could he control the wipers and wiper fluid when they uncontrollably sprung to life. The driver, luckily, was part of an experiment to see if hackers could take control of a car via laptop.

As it turns out, they can — including systems like the brakes, steering, and transmission. That was 2015. Today's new cars are already far more connected, far more automated, and far more vulnerable to hacks normally associated with computers. Attacks like the one on the Jeep are extreme-case scenarios, but today's automakers already employ a vast and expensive array of cybersecurity measures because car hacking is real — and it will only get worse moving forward.

Your Battery Will Replace Your Engine
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Your Battery Will Replace Your Engine

Electric cars are more popular and practical now than they've ever been, but they still account for only a tiny portion of the consumer market — for now. Tesla has proven that electric cars can be luxurious and powerful — and many other automakers have proven they can be affordable. Most major brands are pouring extensive resources into electric, and long-range, high-horsepower models are poised to enter the market. As batteries get cheaper and more powerful, and charging stations become fixtures, the 2020s stand to be the breakout decade for electric cars.

Related: 20 Electric Cars Cheaper Than a Tesla

The Car Becomes the Battery
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The Car Becomes the Battery

The success of electric cars depends on their batteries — but what if they didn't have any batteries at all? Nanotechnology — along with solar energy and kinetic energy — have spawned successful experimentation with superconductors embedded directly into the body panels of vehicles, in the doors, the roof, and the hood. In the coming decade, it's very possible that cars themselves will be able to store enough energy to power electric vehicles without the aid of batteries.

Your Car Will Respond to Your Brainwaves
Nissan

Your Car Will Respond to Your Brainwaves

There's been a lot of talk about the role of artificial intelligence and the future of automobiles, but Nissan has taken things a step further with attempts to connect the human brain to the cars those humans drive. The automaker's brain-to-vehicle technology uses physical sensors — currently worn on the head — that let the car know what the driver is about to do when driving in manual mode. When the car switches to autonomous mode, the vehicle detects when the driver is anxious or nervous about the way the car is being piloted. Although it sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, it's actually in the works as a practical application right now, unlike the ultimate and generationally unrealized future-car promise of them all — flying cars.

Flying Cars — You Still Won't Have One
Chesky_W/istockphoto

Flying Cars — You Still Won't Have One

The inevitability of flying cars has been promised to generations of drivers dating back to at least "The Jetsons" — and probably before. Don't hold your breath. History has shown that hybrids — like boat/planes and car/boats — don't work. Hybrids that perform well enough to be safe and reliable in both specialty functions are affordable — but only to the military. The average consumer will never have the cash to buy a car/plane that isn't both a terrible car and a terrible plane at the same time.