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Tushar D

Nice writeup, GK.
I hope they do enough progress in heart desease prevention for me to live to see all this.


I think it's too optimistic.


You're full of it usnjay, it's too pessimistic.

Andrew Curry

There's some more material on this which you may not be familiar with in the UK Foresight project on Intelligent Infrastructure Systems. The academic papers are summarised readably at:

John Bull

GK, why do you think that we are essentially using the same technology to power cars today, as that used when internal combustion engine-powered cars were first mass produced a hundred years ago?

I've often compared cars to airplanes & wondered that although we've seen 'planes develop from propellor-powered gliders to supersonic jets, in the same timeframe, cars' engines seem barely to have changed by comparison, despite the emergence of myriad new technologies.

What's your take?


Wait a minute. What about the flying cars we were promised?!? ;-)


John Bull,

A new technology to displace an old one does not have to just be better, but better by enough of a margin to justify uprooting the instrastructure supporting the old one.

Cars have, however, improved a lot in efficiency per hp over the last 35 years. Today, a 240 hp engine gets 21/27 mpg, while in 1970, a car with that efficiency got just 80 hp.


Got to agree with John on this one. This post begs the question that we won't have developed some personal flight appliance, or for that matter, that slower-than-light transportation will be necessary are not made obsolete by exponentially improving telecommunications.

M. Simon

Here is a possible electrical source that will not generate plutonium or CO2:

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
Bussard Fusion Reactor


The whole prediction hinges on one item: cost efficient battery technology. It does not yet exist. A lot of people are working on it, but it just does not yet exist, and any prediction on a date of implementation is idle speculation.



Not true. There are continual advances of about 7% a year in Lithium-ion battery efficiency.


I would rate it optmistic, but I *am* a pessimist :^). My reason for so believing is not purely temperament, however, viz:

One factor to consider is the effect significant numbers of electric vehicles and materials advances would have on the price of gasoline.

Certainly price pressure on *gasoline* as an end product would be lower than they would be without all the electric cars. If nanomaterial production is not petroleum based (sorry to be so ignorant here) then the replacement of plastics would also reduce demand for petroleum.

Given these points, it seems at least *plausible* that significant declines in the price of gasoline would slow adoption of electric vehicles purely from a cost perspective.


A new technology to displace an old one does not have to just be better, but better by enough of a margin to justify uprooting the instrastructure supporting the old one.


With self-driving cars, there's another category that may be more important: self-driving trucks.

With passenger cars, self-driving gives some advantages, but there's in any case a person inside who might as well drive. The economic justification is second-order at best (and therefore easy to ignore or overlook).

With trucks, there's a clear cost saving. The speed of adoption may well be much faster...


From $3 a gallon in 2007 to $5 by 2009, to $10 by 2012. After that, it all depends on where we are at with alternative energy, and how much of a recession or even a depression the economy is in.

Even if we completely convert to non-gas, non-diesel cars and trucks, (unlikely), we will still have a high demand for available oil for making plastics.

I know, most people won't agree with the oil predictions, but that's the way it is folks. When oil went to $40 a barrel, I said it would go to $60, and everyone I met said no, it will go back to $20. When it went to $60, I said it would go to $80 and everyone I met said no, it will go back to $40. And so on, now it's at $90, and I keep hearing people say it's going back to $70. It's just wishful thinking people, wake up to reality, oil will cost a lot more in the future.

M. Simon

The main thing holding back electric cars/hybrids is the high cost of power semiconductors.

That will change around 2012 when 450 mm wafer fabs cone on line and the cost per unit area of power semis drops by 1/2.


Good for people to know.

truck rental

I must admit that your prognosis for 2010 is almost true! Apart from the price of those high breeds :) I am all for the self driven cars! Less accidents on the roads - that's for sure!

Account Deleted

You have a good idea of what's gonna happen with the automobile industry although I must point out the lack of predictions regarding the new car generation's technicality about maintenance such as auto repair. Indianapolis also has some predictions regarding the future of automobiles, specifically hybrid or electric-powered cars. Car dealers in Indianapolis are actually making a living with these new hype about the future of automobile by importing hybrid-motor cars.

Eau Claire Chevy

Very interesting look into the future.. yea what about the flying cars? I would like to see more good looking hybrids in the future; especially from Bmw and benz instead of the odd shaped ones that seem to be the range now. I would also like to see mpg nearing 80 mpg in future hybrids... Electic cars in the future will also need huge ranges like 1,000 at least and there will have to be electric fueling places everywhere... Looking into the future is fun!

Bryan Tyler

I'm still waiting for the moment that KITT will be 100% true. Smart cars have already been developed, but it would be a lot better if they were to act like the 80's KITT that we all know and love.

Zoey Schmucker

Since the introduction of electronic systems in cars, the possibility of KITT being an actual car is closing in. May it be the original Pontiac Trans-Am KITT, the Ford Shelby GT500KR KITT, or any car you would like to be KITT; it's going to be possible in the near future.

Angelica Emmanuel

The technology is here. It needs to be developed and tested more, but it's already arrived. We are looking as a timeline of a few years or a decade before normal folks can enjoy this. I'm actually looking forward to it.


Dear Futurist,

I am impressed that your self-driving car prediction is more or less on track. With self-driving cars already approved on public roads in Nevada and California, it seems like 2014 could just about happen. But I am wondering about something. I have scoured the web but haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer.

It seems to me that at least those states where it is approved would have to provide a real-time "database of record" for speed limits and other traffic restrictions that change frequently. It would even have to include school speed limits during school commute hours/days. And it would have to have the force of law. That is, merely posting a sign would no longer be enough. It would have to be posted online as well. I can't find any evidence that such databases exist, down to the real-time level of detail required, and certainly none that carry the force of law. As it stands now I foresee that we could have officers writing tickets to--what? If the human passenger remains responsible, then many of the benefits of self-driving go away.

In the mean-time, if such databases did exist, they would provide all kinds of opportunities for smarter cruise-control, GPS system warnings, etc.

I'd be curious in your or anyone else's take on this issue.

Sean Carter

I really think a system like this paired with our ever growing technology could really do some good things in some vital areas like fleet vehicles. They are a strong backbone of many industries and will only further thrive on this information


Also the news came out that SunPower has contracted with Ford to build solar panels that will generate enough electricity to charge an electric car, people have been scrambling to catch up, well i am an automobile lover so i like to take the information about automobiles and i always take help from http://www.automotix.net/newsletter.html

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