Flying cars, cities encased in a giant bubble, futuristic monorails that travel at over 100mph? These are mostly things of fantasy. Yet city centres are constantly evolving and some developments in the near (and far) future could see urban driving start to change. Based on reality, these are some of our predictions for the short and long-term future of city driving.
Car restrictions in city centres
There are already some initiatives in place to reduce the number of vehicles in city centres, such as London’s congestion charge that was introduced to lower road traffic. Cities face challenges to reduce congestion, noise and safety issues and improve air quality. For these reasons, further restrictions on the number of petrol and diesel cars being allowed in city centres are likely to be introduced. Already the UK government has set out plans to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, along with others in Norway, France and Netherlands, which should see reduced air pollution in city centres at least.
Recently many cities including Cambridge have begun introducing the idea of clean air zones and a ban on petrol cars and vans entering the city centre. In late 2017 London also introduced the T-Charge, adding an extra £10 payment for high polluting vehicles driving in the Congestion Charge zone. The best insight into the future of city driving is that of central London in rush hour. Here such charges mean there are few private cars on the roads, as buses, taxis, trade and delivery vehicles and cyclists dominate.
A further part of the strategy to reduce pollution is to increase city centre parking charges as well. Should these measures come into play then city centres could soon become car-free zones (or at least less congested).
Rise of electric cars
Such restrictions are also likely to help speed up the electric car revolution. Many manufacturers are dramatically increasing their production of electric vehicles to meet growing driver demand, reduce emissions and ensure they are prepared for when the ban on new petrol and diesel cars arrives. So now might be a good time to start thinking about making your next car an electric or hybrid model at least.
More electric cars won’t only make our city centres less smoggy, quieter and hopefully a more pleasant environment though. Expect a change in infrastructure as cities adapt to meet the needs of these new vehicles, from electric car charging points on every street to petrol stations adapting to include fast electric charging points.
Autonomous technology in cars will likely change city centre driving, as it improves to eventually create fully driverless cars. Many new vehicles already feature elements of autonomous driving, such as self-parking technology and automatically applied brakes when a hazard is detected.
Over the years this will develop further and Ford even have plans to test self-driving cars in 2018. Depending on the success of this, self-driving cars could be on our roads sooner than thought possible. However, the SAE defines five levels of automation which need to be passed through before it will become a reality.
We’ve all heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), right? If not, it’s basically a term that refers to how devices, machines and vehicles all interact with each other. This is expected to be the next big thing and is already evident with the likes of Google Home and Alexa.
Cars are now more connected than ever too, with technology advancing beyond merely having Bluetooth so you can stream your favourite driving songs in your car. The likes of Car Genie also connect information about your car’s health to your phone and our breakdown team, as it can detect a crash and trigger a call from us to help. Sensors and cameras mean many vehicles can detect when other cars and objects are close, while sat navs can update drivers with traffic information.
City driving and infrastructure will also adapt to accommodate this as the technology and driverless cars further improve and become more commonplace. Car parks, traffic lights, speed cameras and more could all evolve to interact with driverless cars and other vehicles.
The future of city driving looks set for some exciting changes in the near and far future.
Image courtesy of iStock.