For some, motorway driving means letting the sky into your BMW 6 Series Convertible, as you cruise along a highway flanked by soaring mountains or rolling fields. For others it’s enjoying the smooth ride in your 1 Series Hatchback on the way to work. Whichever category you come under, one thing’s for sure - motorways are here to stay. Here, we take a look at what you can expect of the motorways of tomorrow.
MORE OF THEM
For a start, the number of motorways is only going to increase. Tens of thousands of miles worth of new motorways are built across Europe each year, as countries look to link up their towns and cities with quicker and more direct roads. Although some great landscapes may be compromised, who could imagine driving around London without the M25, or across the Pennines without the M62?
BIGGER AND BETTER SERVICES
As more and more motorists take to the motorway, the services that you can take advantage of are constantly improving. In the world of big brands and instant gratification, you can look forward to familiar names serving up your food sharpish, and a collection of grab-and-go options. While some may prefer to have more quaint, European-style picnic areas interspersed between larger services, consumerism is likely to dictate that brand-power will always win through. Expect wider ranges of goods on offer to entice people to stop. This would at least help with the problem of motorists driving for too long without a break.
With advancements in traffic monitoring and technological capabilities, more and more places in the UK are seeing the rise of smart motorways. Variable speed limits kick in when there’s heavy traffic, while the hard shoulder can be used to lighten the load on the road. If smart motorways help people to get around major cities like Birmingham and London faster yet safer, there can’t be too many drawbacks with them.
MORE TOLL ROADS AND CARPOOL LANES
If you’ve taken your BMW abroad to a country like France, you might’ve been irked at how often you have to stop to pay tolls. While the UK’s car tax system means that we’re not likely to get anywhere near those levels any time soon, roads such as the M6 Toll are popular for avoiding congestion on the regular motorway. Another way of avoiding congestion in the future could be the introduction of carpool lanes, like they have in countries such as the US.
With the focus that a whole host of manufacturers are giving to self-drive cars, it seems they may well be the future of motoring. From radar-driven cruise control and braking systems, to parking your BMW 7 Series with its key, the age of autonomous driving has already dawned. Self-driving cars will need large processors and lots of sensors to compute what’s happening around them. So with technology companies heavily invested in the race for self-drive supremacy, the motorways of tomorrow could just be another excuse to settle down in a comfy chair and watch the latest films, or listen to your favourite music. The UK government promised to test driverless cars on the motorway by the end of 2017, so watch this space for the results.
A long way into the future, and gazing into the most abstract of crystal balls, are charging roads. With the rise of electric cars has come the issue of charging them. Whether you’re after the practicality of the BMW i3 or the supercar performance of the i8, the easier it is to charge your car the better. With some of the incredible technological advances that have been made in all walks of modern life, roads offering inductive charging doesn’t seem like the wackiest idea of all. Being able to charge up your electric car on the motorway could turn out to be one of the perks of the future.