Breakfast time in the future,
not too many years away...
There's an email from your car, picked up
on your smartphone. (It's also sent a text,
just to be safe.) Time to get going. It has just received information that's there's bad traffic, so allow an extra 30 minutes to get to your first meeting.
How does it know? Other cars — stuck in that traffic jam — have told it thanks to car-to-car (via a server) communication. By the time you get to your car, the cabin is already preheated to your favourite temperature — 20°C — and the driver seat heater is on. The doors are unlocked, seats and steering wheel adjusted just so. Shut the door and
the in-car entertainment system is engaged automatically, playing your favourite mix — jazz, news and sport. (Coming home it knows you prefer classical music; the personalised music streaming always pleases.)
The car is linked to your personal home computer, so it knows your calendar. That's why it knows where you're going right now. No need manually to set the satellite navigation. And, because of that traffic jam, it's already worked out a new route. You don't have to look at the centre console screen for directions, like you did back in 2012. It's all on a full-size head-up display, projected on to the windscreen. Those navigation instructions are blended on to
the road ahead. Naturally, voice instructions offer further assistance.
It's been a bit of a rush this morning. No chance to check all those overnight emails. So, as you drive to your meeting, you ask the car to read them out for you. It does so, thanks to a sophisticated voice-recognition system and a text-to-speech function. It can answer emails too, of course. Just dictate and
send. Naturally these emails are
all linked to your central account. So, when
you log on later at your desk, they'll all be recorded, in good old-fashioned black-and-white text. Thanks to that rush, you can't quite remember this afternoon's meeting schedule. No problem. Just ask the car. It reads it out.
There's time to catch up with Facebook friends. Your car can read these out, too.
And you can answer, if you want. Or you
can follow your favourites on Twitter. Naturally you can take phone calls, and make calls through voice recognition dialling. And, if your partner is in the car, or children in the back seats, they could be watching their favourite television programmes or movies, no problem. Voice recognition allows them to change programming instantly. Online videos can be watched via the internet server.
There's another traffic problem: an anonymous car up ahead has spotted it and the car-to-
car communication has relayed the message
to your car. It says you can't avoid this delay
but it'll be faster if you move into the left lane. The information also comes from roadside communication tools automatically monitoring traffic, plus mobile roadwork trailers are all now fitted with transmitters. It is all so much more sophisticated than it was back in 2012 with those old traffic management systems that relied on human — usually police — feedback.
You briefly think you're going to be late
and consider asking the car to send an email to those people attending the meeting. But,
on reflection, this won't be necessary. Your estimated time of arrival, part of the satellite navigation, is nowadays unerringly accurate. You're making good progress, not least because you're having luck with the traffic lights. Except, of course, it isn't luck. Your
car has been told by local authority traffic management data when the lights will be green; your route takes into account traffic light phasing, and makes the most of 'green waves'.
We're nearing the location for the meeting. The car has already identified the best place
to park: there's an NCP right across the road.
It's reserved a spot. And paid for it. The ticket has been sent to your smartphone. You're right on schedule.
The car park is one of those new automated ones. You park in a lift and the car and its surrounding pod are automatically whisked away somewhere into the multistorey structure. (Because of its much greater space efficiency, this new car park is half the size of the old one and yet can accommodate just as many cars).
Your pod has an induction charger for your lithium air battery, all part of your petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain. Charging begins immediately. If you'd like to see how much charge your car battery has, your smartphone will tell you: any time, anywhere. Your smartphone will also tell you where you've parked your car, if you've forgotten (useful in some of those big old-fashioned car parks). That's thanks to its vehicle-finder function.
Later, at the end of a long day, it's time to
go home. The classical music chosen is your favourite selection. You don't want to hear
any emails, or news — just relax. The car recommends that you refuel on your way home at an outlet that has lowered its petrol prices for the day. It's a good way to finish a tough day: by saving money.
THE FUTURE IS NEARER THAN YOU THINK
If this all sounds sci-fi wacko futuristic, think again. It's the likely 2020 reality. And much
of this tech is coming well before that. Some
is already available. "I have been in the car business for 25 years and the technology has never moved so fast," says Professor Raymond Freymann, CEO of
BMW Group Research. "It will go on moving faster and faster."
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