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The RoBlog
Monday, November 22, 2004
Fortune.com - The Car of the Future Is Here
Fortune.com predicts 11 technologies that will be available in the car of 2010. Here's my take ('cause I know you're wondering):

Next-Generation GPS - I think that car systems that use GPS, navigation software, and the Internet (or a dedicated system) to route you around traffic are likely by the predicted 2007 date. Less likely is the on-the-fly offering of discounts on gas when you're running low. I think it will take a few more years to shake out this idea from two points: having your car communicate to business nearby (non-trivial, and will probably be through a proprietary network to begin with), and preventing the perception of such offers as being in-car pop-up ads.

Self-Parking - Already available in the Japanese version of the Toyota Prius (as Fortune.com indicates), it would seem like this could be ready for launch by the predicted 2009 date in the US.

Electronic Stability Control - The predicted date for this is 2004. Somehow I don't see this as a reach.

Night Vision - I see some version of this system every year. I have to believe it will come about soon just by sheer manufacturer effort. The 2008 predicted date seems correct.

External Airbags - I'm sure this must be a problem, and perhaps it's as easy to solve as Fortune.com indicates, but for some reason, I feel this is farther out than the 2008 date. Also, the picture makes me giggle.

Cars by Wire - I've been intrigued by the idea of alternate driving interfaces since I was a little kid pretending I was driving in the back of the car with an Atari joystick. I wonder, however, if people's comfort level with the existing technology will be too high to replace in the near future. Likely it will be market at youth cars first. This kind of interface will be nice when cars can drive themselves; by eliminating the mechanical connections (notably the steering wheel connections), drivers will have more room to work or play while the car is driving. I think the 2012 availability date is not fair for an article that's supposed to be targeting 2010.

Pre-Collision Radar/Adaptive Cruise Control - As a person who recently mucked up the front of my car, I will be happy when my car can perform the simple act of beating me to the breaks when a collision is imminent. All the better if it prepares the vehicle for a crash. Given that we see this already on at least 3 luxury cars, I'm kind of surprised that the availability date is 2009, but it's probably more costly to implement than I expect (or, rather, the price fall-off over time isn't as fast as I'd expect).

Lane Departure Warning System - I just read a brief article on this in the last day or so. Seems interesting, but I expect this may be too complicated a problem to handle with just video processing alone. Add some GPS in there, and you're probably closer. 2009 is probably about right, if not a touch early.

Adaptive Headlights - Maybe. I'm not convinced it's a necessity, and therefore am skeptical that it will find its way into regular cars any time soon, but since Fortune.com indicates only that it is likely to be in luxury cars by 2009, I'd probably agree.

Blind-Spot Warning - One of several cameras that will begin appearing on regular cars in the next 10 years (a passing camera mounted, forward-facing, on the passenger mirror is another I expect to see), I think this technology has a good chance of making it by the predicted 2009 availability date.

Eye Monitoring for Drowsiness - This is another technology that seems to get a lot of attention lately (and another camera in the car). I know this is probably a big deal, but it will be interesting to see how well these systems will work in the long term, and if people are interested enough in them to pay extra. In luxury cars by 2009? Sure. In any car by 2015? Maybe not.

Ok, there you have my predictions of the predictions. Drop me a message in 6 years and let's see how well I did.

Fortune.com - The Car of the Future Is Here
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