Let's try to make a virtual test drive on a car of the coming century. We will not look far ahead - this is a risky business, but for ten years …


Creating a car of the 21st century, we tried not to invent anything - just put together technical innovations presented by leading companies today as prototypes. You read about some on the pages of ZR; we will tell about others for the first time.

So, we are heading to the car. Its forms are emphasized functional and speak of a thorough aerodynamic study - otherwise you will not achieve a minimum fuel consumption. But what is it? As we approached closer, the color of the car changed radically: it was green, but turned red! This interference coloring pigments make the car shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow. We take the handle - the door obediently opens. But excuse me, will there really be no hijackers in 2010? Alas, they will surely remain, just the driver has a chip card in his pocket and the security system "sensed" the owner at a distance of about a meter.

Speaking of hijackers. Their appearance and equipment over the years have undergone dramatic changes. All kinds of rulers and pieces of wire for jumpering disappeared from the "gentleman" set. There is simply nowhere to stick the line, but nothing to short out the wires: all the signals from the sensors go digitally on the shared bus and blocking is done by setting special passwords. So now in the shoulder bag there are no master keys, but a powerful scanner and a laptop, and "behind" - a special education, or at least a criminal-technical talent!

We sit in a comfortable seat, press the red button that says Start Engine and … nothing happens. Oh yes, first you need to attach your index finger to the luminous yellow rectangle. This is a capacitive fingerprint sensor, the memory of which contains the fingerprints of everyone to whom the owner entrusted the management of his car. The seat and steering wheel suddenly began to move - they assume a position pre-programmed for a given user. On the smooth matte surface of the instrument cluster, an image of the usual speedometer and tachometer, fuel gauge and engine temperature appeared. Only these scales and arrows do not exist in reality, they are just a computer illusion. Human psychology is inert, round analog scales are somehow more familiar than running numbers. As compensation for the lack of true arrows and scales, you can taste the color of numbers, arrows, and even the number system - in kilometers and liters or in miles and gallons.

Now you can press the button. A light click - the starter-generator worked - and … silence. True, the control lights on the display went out and the “arrow” of the tachometer came into motion. Well, yes, it should be so, the engine purring at idle is almost inaudible, the vibrations are fundamentally suppressed by an active electronic feedback system.

It's time to make a small digression about the engine. We admit, it’s the most difficult to choose a specific powertrain concept: will it be an electric motor running on fuel cells, or an internal combustion engine burning liquid hydrogen from a tank … Or maybe hydrogen is produced on board by the decomposition of methanol? Today several directions are actively and successfully being worked out at once - which one will win in ten years is difficult to predict. Most likely, they will compete. And here, for definiteness, suppose a hybrid option: batteries, an electric motor and a compact internal combustion engine. Speaking of the latter: the diagram shows how serious researchers imagine its future.

Now move the transmission control joystick (most likely it will be a CVT) to position D and you can add gas. Despite the small displacement of the engine, our car is just rushing forward. An electric motor came to the rescue. Then, later, he will disconnect, but we will not know. And there’s no reason to bother with all kinds of nonsense! So, we joined the stream of urban transport and out of habit we approach closer to the car in front, so as not to let any impudent. A pleasant female voice is heard in the cabin: “Increase the distance. At a given speed, it is small. Is it dangerous". The locator in the front bumper carefully monitors the situation and communicates with us through a computer. And if you still try to add more speed? Nothing comes out - the gas pedal becomes obedient again only when we are rebuilt in a more free range!

Having mastered a little, we begin to become interested in little things: whether, for example, turn on the air conditioning? Where are its buttons? And, here they are, on the right - stretched out in a line along the console smoothly flowing down. But this is inconvenient! To find the switch you need, you need to take your mind off the road … Nothing of the sort - just your hand hovering over a button, on the central display, right in front of the driver’s eyes, a “window” appears indicating its function. Yeah, that’s climate control. Press the button, the command menu appears: you can set the desired mode. However, maybe you don’t have to press anything. Just say distinctly: “Turn on the air conditioner. The temperature in the cabin is 20 degrees! ” And that’s all.

While driving, clouds came running, it started to rain. The wipers turned on automatically, and when the oncoming truck poured glass off the puddle with mud (alas, puddles and dirt, it seems, the eternal companions of Moscow roads), the washer also started working. Please note that with a set of speeds the steering wheel has become “tougher" - the amplifier has switched to high-speed mode. The car swallows the bumps imperceptibly, and almost does not heel in corners - the merit of an active hydraulic suspension. If comfort can be felt directly, with one’s own body, then only a professional will notice the work of all kinds of stabilizing systems: where today's car would have been drifted long ago, our car writes out a predetermined trajectory without “noticing” slippery sections. Until the driver forces the car to violate the laws of physics, she obediently performs all the maneuvers.

It got dark on the street - the side lights went on, after another hour - dipped beam, and a picture of the night vision system appeared on the windshield. So the headlights are needed, rather, so that pedestrians can see us, and we will see them hundreds of meters even in thick fog … Just in case, the xenon beam of headlights helps illuminate the right side of the road and even turns if the road goes sideways.

Well, are you a little tired? Then stop for a break. Fold the steering wheel up: a screen and a “laptop” console will pop out from under it. You can have fun playing, and from a long trip to send news home by e-mail. To ensure that children in the back seat are not bored, computer displays are also mounted in the head restraints in front of them. How not to watch your favorite cartoon, not to fight with the eternal Godzilla! Can a driver relax on the road? It’s easy, but only on toll highways, where special antennas are mounted under the asphalt - they allow you to simply enter the final destination of the route, the average speed and … the car will go, in fact, without your participation, not forgetting to give signals about rebuilding, strictly observing the distance and permissible speed. Before leaving the highway, the computer will sound a warning signal about the end of the automatic driving mode and give the reins to your reliable hands.

A small digression about toll highways. They have existed for a long time and just as long as the flow of transport is inhibited at the stockade of barriers where tolls are charged. Today, such a picture is already a legacy of history. Cars simply drive through a series of “electronic gates” that read information from a special credit card mounted behind the windshield. The required amount will be charged automatically, and information on the control will be displayed on the central display. If there is no money in the account, after a few tens of meters a red traffic light will appear in front of you and the collector of “taxes” will offer to drive aside for explanations.

You say - the magazine has slipped to unscientific fiction? No, such a car can be built even tomorrow, because the described innovations have already been created in the laboratories of leading companies and have been tested many times. Moreover, in this review we did not mention everything. Overboard there were tires that are not afraid of punctures, equipment that provides almost "zero" exhaust and protects the interior from any harmful gases from the street, and much, much more. (Remember the Fantomas car with extendable wings? Yes, it is already yesterday: there is a vertically taking off car that isn’t afraid of traffic jams and doesn’t need roads. Those who wish can buy at the Möller company for a couple of millions of green …) Just with modern at the technological level, such a car of the future will cost an unbearable amount for the vast majority of buyers. Experience shows, however: that yesterday was still exclusive, tomorrow it will become publicly available. So there is a lot of interesting things ahead of us - we invite readers to closely monitor the news with the magazine!

This may look like a display in the “instrument cluster”.

The Night Vision system will help at night.

Here you need to press the index finger …

The control buttons stretched along the console and “feel” the approach of the owner’s hand.

Relax at the computer or send a letter home …