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19.05.2017 - 11:41

7 features we want to see in self-driving electric cars

There are a number of companies in the technology world, like Google and Apple, that are working out the kinks with self-driving cars. The same can be said for electric cars as well

1. Built-in entertainment


There’s always a need for entertainment when you’re on a long car trip, or just sitting in traffic on the way to work. The radio solution can become stale and there are only so many commercials and obnoxious DJs you can listen to in a single day. Let’s not forget the copious amounts of eye-spy games or counting the number of licence plates from a different province before you’re overtaken by sheer boredom, and while waiting for the kids to fall asleep.


Having built-in entertainment system centres, with the ability to watch movies and TV shows or play games, even for the person in the ‘driver’s seat’, would help you get through inane car tips on the way to distant relatives. Just think about marathoning all of the Men In Black movies as you pull into the Gourits rest stop.


Though this would bring in its own set of problems, which brings us to…


2. Motion sickness


The bane of many a passenger, and some drivers as well. Motion sickness is an unavoidable problem that affects a large number of people and can take hours, even days to recover from. While there is medication available, or the ideal solution of just going to sleep, having a passenger threaten to throw up in your car isn’t something that you really want.


Self-driving cars, or even the standard cars of today, should have a way of helping those with motion sickness in order to make car rides even easier and less frustrating. Staring at your phone or any screen is a sure fire way to bring about headaches, dizziness, and everything else that follows with motion sickness.


3. Blinds or electric window tinting


One way to avoid motion sickness is to not look out of the window, but how is this even possible in a 10-hour car ride? One way around this is shutting out visibility to the outside world with electric blinds or tintable windows. These can obscure your view whenever you need them to. Through long stretches, or just while sitting in traffic, it would be great to lower the blinds or tint the windows and have a nice long nap. Who doesn’t want to get an extra hour of sleep on their way to work?


4. Solar panels


Pulling into a petrol station (or hopefully an electric filling station) is always a pain. South Africa, and indeed many other countries, are sunny, which makes solar energy a no-brainer. Plastering the electric and self-driving car with solar panels is an obvious solution. This would go a long way in making sure the car is charged up and running for as long as possible.


5. Fridge


We’ve all been on long car trips, stopping along the way at a Wimpy or Golden Egg (depending on how old you are) for breakfast and taking along a packed lunch for later in the day. If you didn’t have a cooler bag or something packed to the brim with ice packs, then your drinks and sandwiches got warm very quickly. Who really likes a warm avocado sandwich where the contents have already gone brown?  


Using the car’s electric power, a small fridge would enable passengers to enjoy their drives more, even if it can only hold a six pack of Coke (or Pepsi).


6. Foldable seats


Have you ever had a nap in the car? It’s an uncomfortable experience, even more so if you let the seat down and pretend it’s a bed. Car seats just aren’t made for sleeping on, especially if you’re unlucky enough to be sitting in the back.


With those sitting in the front of the car not needing to keep an eye on the road, it would be ideal to have car seats shift around the car so that those in front can face those at the back. Even better, if the seats actually folded into beds for the occupants to nap on. It would make those drives to Bloemfontein all that much bearable.


7. Correct traffic routing


There’s an old saying that goes: “If everyone takes the shortcut, then no one takes the shortcut”. The same can be said for GPS navigation units with built-in traffic monitoring, such as Google Maps. While the device will help you to eventually reach your destination, a number of other drivers are using the same system for the same reason.


Cars should have a universal traffic detection system that allows cars to talk to one another, and look for the best way for everyone to reach their destination.

Once the two technologies of electric and self-driving cars mesh, and at prices affordable to the average person, you’ll no longer have to settle for that used VW Polo you saw for sale. While all of these features may seem like luxuries now, hopefully they’ll be standard one day.

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