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Driving is not what it used to be

If the future of driving is self-driving cars, then what’s happening now? Car manufacturers are introducing all kinds of clever ideas to entertain and protect drivers – and pedestrians too.

Don’t roll off

Google’s latest patent is a sticky layer on car bonnet, so if somebody gets thrown on to it, they don’t roll off into the road. The moment a pedestrian makes contact with the bonnet, the glue keeps them there. While intended for self-driving cars, vehicle and pedestrian can come to “a more gradual stop than if the pedestrian bounces off the vehicle”. A clever idea, but will it stick?

If that sounds a little crazy, consider Tesla Model X’s air-filtration “bioweapon defense mode” to help you survive biological warfare.

For less ambitious drivers who just want to stay fit in a short break from driving, there is the BMW 7 Series Vitality Program. This guides you through strength training exercises shown on the 10-inch rear-seat screens, where you press parts of your body into the seat back and cushions.

More features

While most of these features are on luxury cars, the best will probably find their way into cheaper cars eventually. Here is a taste:

  • Gesture control – control features just by using your finger like a magic wand
  • 3D surround view – a 360-degree view around you, using lots of cameras
  • Adaptive headlights – turn left and right with the steering wheel for better vision
  • Heads-up display – information pops up on the windscreen so you don’t look down.

Whether or not these ideas keep the driver safer on the road is a moot point. Some commentators argue that a heads-up display is too distracting and the driver should be focused on the road, not the display.

It will be interesting to see which features catch on and which are just gimmicks.

Until cars can effectively drive themselves, perhaps from 2020 in Australia, you will still need to get yourself a green slip.

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