Forget flying cars, where's my 3D-printed electronic laser hybrid turbo boost? We asked Jalopnik readers about the best tech sitting on the drawing boards of car designers and assembled the ten best future car technologies that are more than just Popular Mechanics dreams.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Jaguar
10.) Hydrogen power
Suggested By: clairborne
Why it needs to happen: Hydrogen takes a lot of energy to pull apart from all the oxygen atoms it gets so very fond of and binds with to form water. That means that hydrogen often ends up looking like more of an energy storage system than a fuel.
Hydrogen-powered cars are already on the road in limited form and the sudden shift of focus to electric cars make the concept of hydrogen as a storage device tempting.
Photo Credit: Mazda
9.) Laser headlights
Suggested By: Brazzzzzle
Why it needs to happen: BMW's new headlight tech will supposedly be 1,000 times brighter than LEDs and last some 10,000 hours, which equates to over 800 manic all-night drives from sunset to sunrise.
You might consider yourself a skeptic, thinking this is an unnecessary complication of what really should just be a bulb you can replace in 5 minutes with whatever money you have in your pocket. To you I ask, name me one thing that was ever made, ever, that was not improved by adding lasers to it.
8.) Forged composite carbon fiber
Suggested By: evoCS
Why it needs to happen: It's like woven carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which is itself like fiberglass except that it's stronger by weight than steel.
The difference is that forged composite is significantly easier to manufacture than woven carbon fiber, made much faster by meshing fibers together randomly and pressing the mess into a defined shape, rather than molding and setting a woven mat.
7.) Electric turbos
Suggested By: SilverBulletBoxer
Why it needs to happen: Combining a turbo with a small electric motor doesn't just mean incredible heat management problems, it also means no-lag turbocharging.
If you're wondering how the whole thing works, the electric motor sits in between the turbo's two turbines, acting something like hybrid drive, just only for the turbocharger, with the motor generating power that would normally be expelled through the wastegate as we explained earlier this month.
6.) Active suspension
Suggested By: unhcampus
Why it needs to happen: Active suspension was supposed to show up on road cars back in 1990 with the Corvette ZR1, as we reported a few years back.
The whole system might have worked for F1 for a little while, but it was always too heavy for road cars. That weight problem needs to get itself fixed, because there's just no way you can say that a car leaning into corners isn't awesome.
5.) The Michelin Active Wheel
Suggested By: SennaMP4
Why it needs to happen: Your car is supported by springs and thus makes up the car's sprung weight. Everything that's past you car's springs, like your wheels and tires isn't held up by your springs, making it unsprung weight. Unsprung weight makes your car worse, which is why the active wheel looks like such a terrible idea at first glance.
The advantages are in simplifying the car, with the whole drivetrain and suspension packaged in just the wheels. That means nothing in between the wheels has to be designed around the constraints of a big engine and everything that comes with it.
You could draw up a car any way you like, with a big bubble compartment, or a car with the frame above a passenger cell that hangs down like a suspension bridge – whatever you can dream, you could make it happen, all because of these wheels.
Photo Credit: Michelin
4.) Electric micro-turbine drive
Suggested By: Ravey Mayvey Slurpee
Why it needs to happen: I honestly don't care if Jaguar's micro-turbine hybrid system is a leap ahead in drivetrain technology. It would be nice, don't get me wrong, but just say it with me: micro-turbine drive.
It could get 2 miles to the gallon of diced baby koala and you'd still want it in your car.
Photo Credit: Jaguar
3.) 3D printing for mass market applications
Suggested By: Tentacle
Why it needs to happen: Rapid prototyping, as it is known in the nerdier circles of the design and manufacturing, is going well with Formula One as we speak, but we want our impossibly complex printed forms in the cars we drive to work.
Big budgets, tight deadlines, and little need for repairing parts make F1 a perfect customer of 3D printed components, made by some kind of laser voodoo of zapping together metal atomic layer by atomic layer until it makes a full part.
This needs to come into the mainstream. You should be able to buy a car new that has intricate 3D printed components that would have been impossible expensive to manufacture otherwise. Moreover, you should be able to download the full technical specifications of the Aventador's pushrod suspension and print up a version in your garage to fit to my own car.
Cut to 7:40 in the video to see Sauber F1's 3D printer in action.
2.) Soft cars
Suggested By: Gamecat235
Why it needs to happen: Pedestrian impact testing would be so much easier if we could put our airbags on the outside. People could just bounce right off our cars. New York City cabbies would just plow through pedestrian traffic, lightly bumping everyone out of their way.
There's no reason why we should stop there, when we could make the whole car soft. For a low-speed city car, you could well make the whole outside of the car out of some soft or inflatable material, allowing cars to just scuff into each other, play bumper cars in traffic jams, bounce into people, dogs, whatever.
Photo Credit: MIT
1.) KERS with a giant BOOST button
Suggested By: thickpete
Why it needs to happen: If there is going to be one saving grace from hybrid technology, it's not going to be incrementally improved fuel economy, nor is it going to be acting like a stepping stool to full electrification of the automobile.
No, it's going to be a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which stores enough for energy for a boost of power on-demand. Specifically, it must have a giant button that says "BOOST," preferably in red, but we can compromise on that.
Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images