It’s interesting to imagine how technology will advance and change our world in the coming years. The automotive industry is one of the most compelling areas of technological progress. What will the car of the future look like? How will it differ from those on the road today? Check out some of the industry features on the horizon—which ones will be in your next car?

Rear Cameras

You may already own a vehicle equipped with rear camera technology, but did you know that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that all new vehicles must be equipped with rear-camera technology by 2018? The NHTSA claims that this move will save 58 to 69 lives per year, according to the Office of the Federal Register. As a result, auto manufacturers have petitioned the government to allow the replacement of side mirrors with cameras as well, claiming the former is no longer necessary, according to the Detroit News.

Exterior Airbags

While airbags are nothing new to vehicle safety, they’ve always been intended to protect the driver and passengers by deploying inside the car. Currently, developers at TRW Automotive are creating airbag technology that would exist outside the vehicle, absorbing the brunt of a collision before the frame is impacted, according to; Autoliv also currently supplies similar exterior airbags. The airbags would fit into panels on the side of automobiles or would expand from the top of the hood to extend over the lower windshield, inflating within an incredible 30 milliseconds—a difference researchers say could reduce the impact on the interior frame by as much as 35%.

Cars That Communicate

Imagine driving down the road and suddenly coming upon a stop sign you don’t notice in time. Your car responds by quickly exchanging information with other vehicles through wireless signals, prompting you to stop, or perhaps even hitting the brakes for you. As How Stuff Works explains, this technology is called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and major auto manufacturers and the NHTSA currently are testing it out with the hope that it may reduce accidents on the road. Industry data experts at IHS Automotive predict that “new vehicle sales may start to include [V2V technology] as early as the next 2 years, and standard V2V on all new cars sold in the USA is probably 6-8 years down the road.”

*IHS Note: V2V will not be able to actuate braking; it is warning only. Other ADAS however is capable of automatic braking, and such technologies are already being rewarded in 2014 by Euro NCAP.

Similarly, researchers also are working on vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology that would facilitate communication between your vehicle and things like road signs and traffic lights. Your vehicle could even receive information about traffic conditions and alternative routes. With the implementation of both V2V and V2I technology, NHTSA reports that the number of target vehicle crashes could decline by as much as 81 percent.

Increased Automation

So much driver assistance technology is already on the road today, but, as IHS Automotive points out, much of the very advanced applications are still primarily available only in luxury cars or as expensive options. That’s likely to change as increasing levels of automation, used in low-speed traffic jams, high-speed cruising or emergency braking, force designers, manufacturers, and drivers, to reconsider what the vehicle and the activity of driving really mean in the world of today and tomorrow.

Self-Driving Cars

Many experts see cars becoming so fully automated that they drive themselves entirely. While some drivers out there love the feel of the steering wheel in their hands, many would rejoice at the thought of sitting back and relaxing while they’re driven from point a to point b without ever having to look at the road. Technology is in the works that enables vehicles to process and evaluate information about their surroundings faster than humans by using lasers, radars and cameras, according to How Stuff Works. By eliminating the risks of human error, this advancement may prove to create a safer driving environment. Analysts at IHS Automotive explain that driver error is responsible for as much as 90% of accidents today. They note that while self-driving cars wouldn’t completely reduce accidents and fatalities to zero, the improvements would mean that accident and fatality rates decrease substantially.

Connected Mobility Solutions

As we try to see further into the future, the possibilities are limitless. Analysts at IHS Automotive envision fully automated cars without steering wheels or accelerators that prompt you for personalized destinations and even remind you of errands and calendar items. They explain that this type of connected mobility solution has the potential to completely revolutionize the automotive industry as we know it.

What future vehicle technologies are you excited about? Share with us in the comments below!