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Skoda looks into company car crystal ball

The company car is set to be revolutionised over the next 40 years, according to think-tank, Centre for Future Studies.

In a report commissioned by Skoda, company cars are to become a ‘virtual colleague’ to company car drivers by 2050.

The increased robotisation of the car will ultimately hand over control to the vehicle, which will boost road safety and enable motorists to use their travelling time to watch the morning news, video conference or answer emails.

Manufacturers will implement haptic systems – a set of technologies from the aerospace industry that add a sense of touch to the man-made interface - to warn of dangerous conditions or even wake up drowsy drivers by vibrating the steering wheel or activating actuators in the driver’s seat.

The next generation of the internet, or ‘Next Net’ will encompass all digital devices, from PC to mobile phone and television, and will include the ability to interact instantaneously with more than one billion web users across the globe.

Next Net will extend the office to the car, enabling the company car driver to have full interaction with the office computer and personal assistant, meaning motorists can do the majority of what is done in the office, in the car.

Essentially, vehicles will become a virtual colleague with full communication interaction. Features will include technology that can read out incoming emails to the driver, allow the driver to dictate responses, permit the driver to set up meetings, update ‘to-do’ lists and write short memos.

Automated highway systems will operate on major commuter routes, creating trains of automatically controlled cars that travel close together at high speed. The agent-based software will also calculate the most cost-effective route for every journey.

However, with technology come perils; it will come as no surprise to many that company car drivers will lose their map reading abilities as dependence on satellite navigation becomes far more widespread.

Dr Frank Shaw from the Centre for Future Studies said: "The key drivers of change determining the design, manufacture and usage of the car of the future are technology, energy supply and demographics. Technology will make cars safer, cleaner and more intelligent and will also provide alternatives to our oil dependency. The car of the future will be far more of a versatile, eco-friendly, cyber-connected travelling space."

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