At one point, almost every child has envisioned a future where the sky is filled with flying cars, soaring orderly through the air. Although floating forms of self-transport have yet to materialize, we are living in a time where technology is rapidly changing how we drive. 

A decade ago, vehicles relying on radar and laser to match another car’s speed on the highway or read the curved lines on a highway road and assist with steering would’ve been stuff of sci-fi, but now they’re just options listed on a new car’s Monroney window sticker. And how about self-driving cars? Thanks to Silicon Valley, that fantasy may soon become a reality.

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time in vehicular tech when the intermittent windshield wiper was blowing people’s minds.

As technology and the automobile are becoming more intertwined, we reached out to a panel of three automotive experts to get their thoughts on the subject.

John Hennessey

The founder and namesake behind Hennessey Performance, John Hennessey specializes in modifying and tuning vehicles to improve their performance. If you want to go fast, take your car to him.

In your opinion, what was the greatest technological advancement to come from the world of automotive? 

One of the greatest advancements was when modern fuel injection came about during the ‘80s. Having a computer control how much fuel was going into a motor revolutionized fuel economy and emissions, and allowed us to tune the ECU to increase power and performance.

What car would you list as a technological benchmark?

The Porsche 959. When it came out back in the late ‘80s it was my dream car. It was packed full of technology, including all-wheel drive, twin-turbo 450 HP engine, 200-mph top speed. This car inspired me to build my own “poor man’s 959” by taking a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 and modifying it to be capable of 200-mph speeds.

This was the car I drove and raced in 1991 that launched Hennessey Performance. I set an FIA world record with this car at the Bonneville Salt Flats and was the only person to drive my car to and from the event.

What are three tech features you most appreciate on your personal car? 

I have a 2015 Ford Mustang GT with our Hennessey HPE750 Supercharged engine upgrade. This car recently ran 207.9 mph at the Continental Tires Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas, as part of an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.

The three tech features I appreciate about this car are: factory aerodynamics that were able to attain 200-plus mph, a motor that makes 774 HP and can still get over 20 mpg, and a traction control system that keeps the power going to the road.

The one option you wish you could delete?

Some cars have traction/stability control systems that cannot be completely turned off. I like having the ability to turn off some technology when I have a reason to do so, like doing a burnout to heat the rear tires at the race track.

Michael Ferrara

The founder and Editor-in-Chief of DSPORT magazine, Michael Ferrara’s publication was founded to educate enthusiasts about the benefits of the latest high-performance automotive technologies. If you want to learn how to make your car go fast, read Ferrara’s magazine.

In your opinion, what was the greatest technological advancement to come from the world of automotive? 

There are actually two technologies that go hand in hand as the greatest technological advancements in the world of automotive. First, the turbocharger has allowed engines to have the best of both worlds. Modern engines can be small in displacement to provide exceptional efficiency, yet make substantial amounts of horsepower thanks to the forced induction benefits of turbocharging.

While turbochargers first appeared on vehicles in the early ‘60s, it was modern computerized engine control systems that allowed precise fuel delivery, spark control and system torque management that will make nearly every new engine design incorporate a turbocharger in the future.

What are three tech features you most appreciate on your personal car?

In my 2012 Nissan GT-R, there are two that came from the factory, the all-wheel drive system and the turbochargers. The former allows power to be put to the ground, giving the vehicle performance on par with a two-wheel drive vehicle on racing tires.

The latter turbochargers make it easy to modify and produce additional power. Keeping the engine and turbos factory spec, a host of supporting upgrade parts has allowed power to be cranked up to 640 horsepower at the wheels. The third item is an aftermarket flex fuel compatibility that allows for the use of ethanol.

Self-driving, autonomous vehicles...for or against?

There is a time and place for “autopilot” on a plane or boat. In a plane, air traffic controllers can ensure no two planes share the same altitude. In a boat, you can’t travel at different altitudes, but there is certainly less traffic than a highway.

People are inherently lazy and this is why autonomous vehicles are a consideration. If SDAVs did not share the same highways, I’m all for it. If they are to be on the same roads as conventional driven vehicles, no thanks!

What's the one piece of tech you're still waiting for in a vehicle?

A next-generative active suspension system with height-adjustability.

Charles Sanville

An automotive technician, Charles Sanville is behind the HumbleMechanic YouTube channel, a destination for automotive mechanic videos. If you want to know how to work on your car or see why parts fail, check out his YouTube channel.

In your opinion, what was the greatest technological advancement to come from the world of automotive? 

The greatest technological advancements all revolve around safety. There are so many things that happen in the event of a collision – airbags can deploy, pyrotechnics ignite and retract seatbelts, cars can even call for rescue and send GPS signals. Now, the focus has shifted to collision avoidance systems. Things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning are all systems developed to keep people safe.

What are three tech features you most appreciate on your personal car?

We just leased a 2015 VW Tiguan and I really like fault warning systems such as tire pressure monitoring and bulb out indicators. I also love that I can roll the windows down with the remote to allow the car to cool off. Keyless entry is also a must. It’s the simple things that can make life so much easier.

Self-driving, autonomous vehicles...for or against?

Yes, I am all for it! I am 100-percent a car enthusiast, and I love driving, but there are also a ton of folks who could not care less about cars. I think autonomous cars are perfect for them. I see great opportunity for things like airport shuttles to get the autonomous car ball rolling.

What's the one piece of tech you're still waiting for in a vehicle?

There’s only one right answer here: flying cars!

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