More and more we’re reading reports of car manufacturers throwing themselves into developing driverless cars. Some are further along in the development process than others, but it’s safe to say that in our life time our roads could be fully automated. Google is the first name that comes to mind when talking about the technology, but in terms of the traditional manufacturers Ford are racing ahead with a purpose built town just for testing their driverless vehicles.
Being so far ahead in the development process has obviously given Ford time to think about how their vehicles might stand out from the rest. In a future where there are several car brands offering driverless technology, why should you choose Ford? One reason could be their giant windshield screens.
That’s right, just recently Ford filed a patent for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System” for use in their self-driving cars. The patent depicts a screen that appears to roll down from the windshield when the car is in autonomous mode with a roof-mounted projector to display images. When the driver wants to take the wheel themselves, the windshield-obstructing screen and projector will fold away to be replaced by a second smaller display in the car’s dashboard or, terrifyingly, the rear view mirror.
I suppose it makes sense – in a future where no one actually has to concentrate on driving, being in a car for long periods of time could get pretty boring. People will want to buy the vehicle that keeps them entertained and distracted from the rise of our robot overlords. Still, I can’t imagine trusting driverless technology enough that I could climb into a vehicle and simply shut out the road in front of me as I hurtled down the motorway at 70 miles per hour; I’d be constantly peeking around the side of the screen to make sure my death wasn’t speeding towards me.
That said, although Ford have filed a patent for the idea, the application of it is definitely a long way out. With driverless technology still in its early stages, it’s more than likely that Ford are simply taking the opportunity to protect their ideas rather than creating any immediate plans to implement them. It’ll be a long time before you can kick back and watch Total Recall on your drive to work.
Images via US Patent Office