2016’s Top Ten Tech Cars

This is the year you’ll see self-driving car technology reach mass-market vehicles

1 min read
Photo: Stefan Milev/Wildfoxrunning

“We wanted flying cars; instead we got 140 characters,” is venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s famous credo.

But though a freeway in the sky seems as fantastical as ever, we are going to get something even better: a self-driving car.

Such a robot, fully aware of its environment, with 360-degree vision and peerless driving skills, is a matter of when, not if. Humans’ fascination with these machines seems limitless, even though autonomous cars could turn us into mere cargo. And unlike airborne cars, self-drivers could prevent the 1.2 million deaths caused by traffic accidents every year.

It’s no utopian fantasy. Among our Top Ten Tech Cars this year are a robotic Audi that tears around racetracks like a professional driver and an electric Tesla whose impressive autopilot skills are as close as the nearest showroom.

Booming sales should also help accelerate the technological pace. Americans parked 17.5 million new cars in their driveways in 2015, more than any year in history, and the Chinese bought even more. That left the industry awash in profits and able to spend heavily on R&D to bring pioneering cars and technologies to market.

So, carbon-based life form, the message is clear. If you enjoy driving, get your fill while you can. In our list of the 10 cars that are rocking our technological world, we’ve included more than a few choices to help maximize your motoring pleasure. After all, we’re only human.

The Conversation (0)

Stratospheric Balloons Take Monitoring and Surveillance to New Heights

These eyes in the sky fly above drones and below satellites

2 min read

Alphabet's enthusiasm for ­balloons deflated earlier this year, when it announced that its high-altitude Internet company, Loon, could not become commercially viable.

But while the stratosphere might not be a great place to put a cellphone tower, it could be the sweet spot for cameras, argue a host of high-tech startups.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

This Huge DIY Workbench Gives You a Hand

A little bit of automation and a lot of space makes projects easier

4 min read
James Provost

As an avid experimenter and builder of random contraptions—and who isn't the best at putting his tools away and normally has multiple projects in various stages of completion—I often run out of work space. So I decided to build a new workbench. One that would be better, not just because it was bigger but because it would be smarter. A bench that could automatically assist me in getting things done!

In my garage I previously had two main work spaces: a 183-by-76-centimeter butcher block that also houses a small milling machine, and a custom 147-by-57-cm work space with a built-in router that pops out as needed. Though this space is generous by most standards, it seems I always needed “just a bit" more. After some consideration, I purchased a 2x4basics custom workbench kit (which provides the bench's heavy-gauge structural resin supports) and lumber to form the main structure, and then cut slabs of chipboard to form a top and a bottom surface.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less
Rohde & Schwarz

Learn more about domain controllers and the new generation of high-performance CPUs in modern cars.

Trending Stories

The most-read stories on IEEE Spectrum right now