Imagine a world without technology. The mental image you conjure is of probably you and yours smashing rocks into the ground and living in mudhuts. Yes, technology has made the world a much more interesting place and our cars are all the greater for it, too.

Especially in recent years, the kind of tech appearing in modern production cars has been converting science fiction into science fact.

Because this Friday (January 6th) is National Technology Day, it seemed a suitable time to look ahead at what mindblowing things we can expect our cars to be doing in the near future.

Self-driving cars

Self driving car

These have been one of the biggest talking points in the world of automotive technology in the past two years, and for many, the idea of a car that can drive itself from A to B with nothing more than a simple command is the endgame for personal transportation.

Back in October, we looked at when autonomous cars will realistically be in showrooms and on our driveways [full feature here]. 2026 was the short answer but electric car company Tesla reckon they’ll have a fully autonomous car on sale by 2018 – that’s next year! Additionally, Nissan says they’ll offer ten self-driving models by 2020.

If you haven’t started taking driving lessons yet, it might be worth saving your money…

Biometric vehicle access

Bio-metric vehicle access

‘Keyless entry and start’ hasn’t been around long. For the uninitiated, that’s where you can open and fire-up your car if your keys are in the immediate vicinity, like in your pocket or handbag.

However, in the near future, you’ll be able to unlock and start your car using nothing more than your fingerprint. We’ve had this kind of technology on smartphones for a few years now, and it’ll soon be on your car’s door handle too.

Active health monitoring

Vehicle health monitoring

Our personal devices have been keeping tabs on our health for a while, from FitBits to the iPhone’s inbuilt Health app that literally nobody uses. And now our cars will be doing their best to make sure we don’t drop dead at the wheel.

Ford has been toying with wearables and the idea of introducing sensors on the driver’s seatbelt and steering wheel that monitor the driver’s vital signs. Link this with autonomous technology and you have the possibility of cars pulling themselves over and calling 999 in the event of a heart attack or similar emergency.

Active window displays

Active vehicle window display

All those dials and meters on your car’s dashboard could soon be digitally projected onto the windscreen. Yep, the days of glancing down from the road to check your current speed or sat-nav may soon be over, if you want it.

We’re already got head-up display (HUD) that do the same thing, but by 2020, production cars could boast active glass capable of displaying vibrant images and instructions.

Remote vehicle shutdown

Remote Vehicle shutdown

Your pride and joy has been stolen by some lowlife; if only there was some way to deactivate it remotely and stop that car thief in their tracks. Well, by the time 2020 rolls around, remote vehicle shutdown could be a very common feature.

In the States, telematics company OnStar is already using a very similar approach to shut down hundreds of stolen cars, bringing a very abrupt end to police chases with minimal drama.

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