AI predicts the car of the future

Artificial intelligence has predicted what the car of 2035 will be like – but how close is it to reality?...

Future car of 2035 rendering front

It may look like a vision of the distant future, designed to get tongues wagging at motor shows, but you’ll notice there’s no badge on this car’s nose. That’s because, rather than being the work of a car maker’s designers, it’s the product of artificial intelligence (AI).

You’ve probably heard a lot about AI in 2023. This super-smart computer technology has the potential to impact every part of our lives; it’s able to digest huge swathes of information, it can mimic a person’s speech or writing, and it can even be used to predict the future. That last point is what you see here. We asked an AI program not only what the car of 2035 will look like, but also what features it will offer.

Unsurprisingly, the car of 2035 is predicted to be an electric SUV. After all, by 2035, the only new cars you’ll be able to buy will be ones powered solely by electricity, and the growth of the SUV market shows no sign of slowing. At the rear, our AI-designed car has a strikingly angled design, while at the front, ultra-thin LEDs act as the lights. A roof-mounted spoiler and chunky haunches finish off an aggressive look. 

So, what new developments lurk beneath that futuristic shape? And are the predictions of our AI grounded in reality or purely the stuff of science fiction? You might be surprised.

Future car of 2035 rendering rear

 1. Lithium-air battery

While today’s electric car batteries are made from lithium-ion, the car of 2035 is predicted to use a lithium-air battery that can store energy up to four times more densely. That means, even with a small battery, it should be able to travel much farther on a charge than even the longest-range electric cars available today.

Earlier this year, US-based researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory revealed that a lithium-air battery could power an electric car for up to 995 miles at a time – enough to get you from London to Monaco in the South of France on a full charge. By comparison, the electric car with the longest range available today – the Mercedes EQS 450+ – can manage 453 miles, according to official tests. 

2. Wireless car charging

Charging the car of 2035 shouldn’t involve anything as tedious as plugging it in. By then, wireless electric car charging could be as widespread as existing charge points; simply drive your car onto a designated pad and charging will start. Mobile phones already use this technology.

Luxury brand Genesis is testing it on cars in South Korea, using 11kW charging pads to top up a fleet of GV60 and Electrified GV70 electric SUVs, and BMW has trialled a similar system using plug-in hybrid 530es. Farther into the future, roads could be built with charging pads below their surface, so your car could be topped up continuously as you’re driving along.

BMW wireless electric car charging pad

3. Alcohol interlock

According to a report by the European Commission, alcohol is a contributing factor in a quarter of all road deaths across Europe. AI predicts that the car of 2035 should help to bring that figure down, because it won’t let you drive it if you’re over the limit. 

Alcohol interlocks already exist; they’re fitted to the cars of alcoholics enrolled in some rehabilitation schemes in the US and Sweden, and they’re used on vehicles owned by the Government of the latter country.

However, while today’s alcohol interlocks are bulky devices that require you to blow into them to register a sample that’s analysed before the car is allowed to start, the car of 2035 could detect alcohol simply by monitoring your breath inside the car. It would focus on air particles around the driver’s seat, to avoid confusion when you’re the designated driver in a car full of inebriated passengers.

4. External airbags

We’re all familiar with airbags; they’ve been around since the late 1950s and have saved countless lives since. The car of 2035, though, is predicted to feature external airbags, as well as having them inside.

A large external airbag could mitigate the effects of any collision that the car deemed unavoidable, and would cut repair costs by lessening the severity of an impact – handy when every inch of tomorrow’s car is covered in expensive sensors and other technology. 

German engineering firm ZF showcased a side-mounted external airbag in 2019; this deploys from a car’s door sill and could reduce the severity of injuries from side impacts by up to 40%. Future applications would also be likely to target reducing pedestrian injuries, by placing external airbags elsewhere on the car, including on the bonnet, bootlid and roof.

5. Colour-changing windows

Personalisation is already big business in the car world, but the car of 2035 could take things one step farther, enabling you to select the colour of the windows at the press of a button. Not only would this let you express your creative flair, but it also means your passengers won’t be dazzled by bright lights or the sun.

BMW, McLaren and Porsche already offer panoramic glass roofs that can darken at the touch of a button using electrochromic technology, which passes an electric current through a panel of reactive glass. That technology can also be applied to the side windows and front and rear screens of a future car, along with LED lights to create a colour-changing effect. Don’t expect to travel around in a dark box, though; current laws state that your car’s windscreen must let in 75% of light, while front side windows must let in 70%.

Future car of 2035 interior render

6. Holographic displays

If you’ve ever struggled to read directions from a tiny sat-nav screen, the holographic displays coming to future cars should be of interest. Like today’s head-up displays, they’ll project everything from your current speed to traffic conditions and sat-nav directions right into your line of sight, but holographic displays will be much bigger. They’ll be able to clearly depict potential dangers, so drivers can see them much earlier than is the case today, especially at night. They’ll also make journeys easier with larger, clearer navigation instructions.

Elements of this technology feature on some new cars already; the BMW iX, for example, has augmented-reality sat-nav, overlaying navigation instructions onto a real-time image of what’s in front of you, via the car’s infotainment screen.

7. Biometric locks

Forever losing your car keys? That apparently won’t be a problem by 2035; you’ll unlock your car using your face or fingerprint. 

That may sound far-fetched, but it’s only an evolution of the technology you already use to unlock your phone. A sensor and small camera will capture your face and fingerprint as you approach the car and touch its door handle, and if it recognises you from a list of approved users, it will let you inside. 

Car parts suppliers Continental and Trinamix have already developed a system that prevents the car from starting if it doesn’t recognise the driver. It’s a development of the driver attention monitoring systems of today; these can warn you if you’re getting drowsy on a long journey and suggest that you take a break.

Car facial recogition technology

8. Puncture-resistant tyre

Changing a punctured tyre at the side of a busy road can be a stressful and sometimes dangerous experience, but it could be a thing of the past.

 That’s because tyres won’t ever go flat; in fact, they won’t be filled with air at all. Instead, they’ll feature lots of small, spring-like elements inside them that will absorb impacts but give the tyre enough flexibility to adapt to changing road surfaces and provide optimal grip.

 Goodyear and Michelin are both working on airless tyres, the latter brand having shown a concept in 2022. The Michelin system uses resin, fibreglass and rubber filaments wrapped around an aluminium hub, with the outer layer of the tyre coated in rubber. Tyres will be made using 3D printing methods and should be fully recyclable at the end of their lives. The first cars to use the new tyre should appear next year in Asian car markets, where the road surface can be harsher than in the UK.

9. Hemp-based bodywork

Hemp is a plant found the world over, and while some choose to smoke it, future engineers could build cars from it. That’s because hemp fibre is up to six times stronger than steel, while being lighter and more eco-friendly to produce. 

In theory, then, making car panels from hemp-based plastics would help the car industry to meet increasingly strict CO2 emissions targets for manufacturing, while also keeping vehicle weight down – weight being the enemy of energy efficiency.

Manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Volvo are experimenting with incorporating hemp and other plant-based materials into their cars, using them
for everything from exterior body panels to interior cupholders and seat fabrics. However, the idea actually goes back to 1941, when Henry Ford revealed a car made partially from hemp plastic and which could run on hemp oil.

10. Solar body panels

You’re probably familiar with solar panels on houses; these can harvest the sun’s energy and store it to power everything from your TV to your EV charging point. The car of 2035 is predicted to use that technology on the move, with some of its bodywork made from solar panels to maximise efficiency.

In place of today’s bulky, flat panels, the solar units incorporated into cars would be flexible and thin to make up parts of the roof, bonnet and bootlid surfaces.

Some cars already use this technology; the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV’s optional solar roof panel can officially add up to seven miles of extra range per day in sunny climates, and the Hyundai Sonata executive car (which isn’t available in the UK) combines solar tech with petrol hybrid power, boosting efficiency by adding up to four miles of range to the car’s battery. 

Volkswagen ID Buzz with solar panels

What Car? says...

Every tech prediction made by our AI could feasibly appear on cars in 2035. Each innovation is an evolution of existing technology, but when these features combine, the resulting cars should be safer and stronger than anything you can buy today, as well as being a lot more energy efficient.

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