While we might not be living in a Jetsons-style world just yet, it’s no secret that technological advances are propelling us forward in time faster than ever before. Recently, Ford pulled together innovative minds from a range of different fields for its Future with Ford Innovation Forum, giving a glimpse at a futuristic life that’s not so far down the track.
“The Future with Ford event aims to do the near impossible – see into the future and put the wheels of transformation into motion,” said Graeme Whickman, president and CEO, Ford Australia.
From high-tech vehicles to exciting scientific breakthroughs, here are five futuristic things that are closer to reality than you think.
#1 The Driverless Car
The concept of scooting around in a driverless car might seem like something out of a film, but if you ask Ford, it’s one that’s set to be a part of your not-too-distant future. The company has announced it’ll have an autonomous vehicle ready to go by as early as 2021, using artificial intelligence software to negate the need for things like steering wheels and brake pedals. Who needs em’ anyway?! Debate and legislative issues aside, the concept has huge potential benefits, among them limiting drink driving accidents, increasing mobility amongst the elderly and the disabled, and reducing traffic congestion.
#2 The Use of Virtual Reality to Reverse Spinal Injuries
These days, virtual reality technology is as accessible as ever, but there’s a lot more to it than the fun and games associated with tripping around an alternate universe. Doctors in Brazil have used VR to help “trick” paraplegics’ brains into thinking they are walking; a process which, over time, has allowed patients to actually recover feeling and restore movement. The study continues, but the results look set to change life for people with disabilities everywhere. Goggles for good.
#3 The Use of Augmented Reality to Treat Psychological Disorders
Augmented reality recently found the world going bananas for a little game called Pokemon Go, though the concept of transplanting digital images atop an existing reality also has plenty more life-changing applications. No, your Kangaskhan capture doesn’t count. One of these sees AR technology used to manipulate a person’s concept of presence, helping them to confront their fears in a controlled way; such as a person with a fear of flying being put into a virtual plane, or a patient with an eating disorder being presented virtual images of their own body. While it’s not an entirely new application of AR, increased accessibility to the technology means it’s finally a realistic option for the general population. Arachnophobes rejoice.
#4 The System That Converts Your Car’s Air-Con Leak into Drinking Water
With a worrying two-thirds of the population expected to face water shortages by 2025, people are getting more and more creative about how to preserve this precious resource. One of these clever cats is Ford engineer Doug Martin, who invented a system that converts the condensed moisture from your car’s air-con into clean drinking water. It sees the air-con water pumped out of a faucet in the car’s centre console and through a filter to remove any nasties. Evian eat your heart out.
#5 The Self-Driving Van and Delivery Drone
These days, CBD traffic can be the stuff of nightmares, which you may know from having to endure an hour long Deliveroo wait or felt the wrath of an Uber surge – hell. Alas, a group of Ford engineers developed the ‘autolivery’ concept; where a self-driving van is used to transport goods to a certain point, and then a drone takes over the final leg of the journey. With the drones being able to buzz around in places inaccessible to vehicles and allow parking further from the site, it’s a concept that would help reduce traffic congestion, minimise air pollution, and make city drivers lives a whole lot easier. No more long waits by the door for your online shopping either.
Image source: Ford, The Inhabitant, Augmented Reality Challenge.