Whenever we imagine the future, there's always a car in the picture: the self-driving car, the flying car, the wheel-less elevated car, and what have you.
Perhaps, this fascination we all share for futuristic cars is one reason why, when it comes to the car of the future, the future is here and now. The driverless car, the flying car, and a host of other amazing cars most of us have only dared to dream about are already in existence.
The Flying Car
If you saw it in action, you wouldn't even know it's a car. With those wings and those tiny wheels, the Transition flying through the air looks more like a tiny airplane than anything else.
But it is a car nonetheless. The moment it lands, you can fold up its wings and drive it through suburban streets or city highways. It will turn heads nonetheless because of its very unusual appearance. Its wheels, for one, are much smaller than a regular car's. If they were any bigger, they would make the car too heavy to fly.
The Transition can carry two passengers and can only be driven legally by somebody who has both a driver's license and a pilot's license. Alas, if you get stuck on traffic, you still can't use your flying car to fly away from it all as this baby needs a good, long, empty runway to take off, just like any old plane.
The Driverless Car
The Driverless Car is one of Google Inc.'s lesser known innovations. It uses a combination of sensor and software to know where it is, what is around it, and where it is going. For navigation, it uses - what else? - Google Maps!
To facilitate the eventual public use of their car, Google has been lobbying for driverless car laws, and in 2011, such a law governing the use of driverless cars was passed in the US state of Nevada. In May 2012, Nevada issued its first license for the operation of a driverless car.
Amid concerns as to the safety of such a car, Google has assured the public that none of its driverless cars has ever been involved in an accident - at least, not while it was on driverless mode. The company admits that one of its driverless cars had in fact been involved in a five-car collision in 2011; it asserts, however, that at that time, the car was being operated by a human driver.
The Super-Fast Electric Car
Electric cars are old news, but to date, we have learned to manage our expectations on how fast they can go and how long their batteries will last. The Keio Advanced Zero-Emission Vehicle Eliica, however, is set to challenge those expectations.
This four-seater eight-wheel car can travel up to 125 miles on a single charge and can reach speeds of up to 230 mph. It can go from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.1 seconds. It's so fast, it has broken records set by gasoline-powered cars.
Of course, all that power needs batteries. The car's entire floor area is packed with lithium-ion batteries, which take 10 hours to go from empty to full charge.