Sure, the DeLorean is pretty cool (it can take us back to 1985, after all), but by today’s standards it’s about as technologically hip as a floppy disk. In the past 15 years, cars have come a long, long way. iPods and satellite radio replaced CD changers; GPS units made actual road maps nearly obsolete; and hybrids and EVs evolved from concept cars into everyday vehicles. Not all that surprising when you consider the speed of innovation these days.
Each year cars get more and more futuristic, and 2010 was no exception. Here’s our list of the top 5 automotive innovations that made headlines this year:
1. Terrafugia Transition
True, the Transition, a drivable aircraft or flying car, has been a concept vehicle since 2006, but in 2010 it finally got the go-ahead from the FAA. In addition to flying at a speed of 115 mph and at a range of 460 miles, the Transition can drive on any surface. Priced at a cool $200k (cheaper than most Lambos), the first models will be delivered next year.
2. EV charging stations
2010 was the year of the EV, but without charging stations, EVs are limited in range. Thankfully, 2010 was also the year of the electric car charging stations. The first public charging station debuted in NYC in July 2010 and many more are slated to appear in the coming year.
3. Pedestrian Detection System
Safety just got a little bit safer. Volvo’s S60 Pedestrian Detection System uses radar and cameras to detect pedestrians in the road. It warns the driver if anyone walks into the car’s path, and automatically brakes if the driver doesn’t react in time.
4. Solar-powered cars
The 100% solar-powered car is still a futuristic concept, but some models of Toyota’s 2010 Prius leaped ahead by installing solar roofs. While it only powers the AC for now, the sun-powered roof nevertheless bodes well for the future of solar technology. And thought it seems a little space-aged today, you might one day see sun-powered cars cruising your way.
5. Google’s driverless car
Who needs a chauffer when there’s Google’s Prius? To date, the driverless car has driven itself 140,000 miles along busy streets and highways. And while this technology is not yet available to the public, it seems likely that it could be at some point in the future (but don’t quote us on that).
So what’s next? A DeLorean that can actually take us into the future? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we can marvel at how far technology’s come and toast to another innovative year. Cheers!
Anne Le Tran is a copywriter at Esurance.
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