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For the past nine years, besides allowing car manufacturers to showcase their latest models, the Los Angeles Auto Show has also challenged auto designers to create their vision of futuristic cars. Past themes have included designs for technology savvy youngsters and the ulitmate racing car. This year, the artists were asked to use their imaginations to envision a highway patrol vehicle that would be able to meet a specific region's transportation and general environment needs in the year 2025.
Not only should the car be capable of 'protecting and serving' the population of the future, but also, take into account the concerns surrounding pollution, population explosion and any changes in infrastructure. Five automotive companies from all over the world, stepped up to the challenge and here, are their visions for the patrol officers of the future.
The German manufacturer's design, based on its off-road G-Class model, focused on creating a green car, powered exclusively by Hydrogen. What was even cooler was the idea that instead of having to stop to 're-fuel' it would be fitted with a hydro-tech converter that would take water from tanks fitted on the car's roof and extract the gas from it to power the fuel cells. Also, the car would be controlled electronically and be able to zip through any terrain. And, though it has an almost zero chance of ever going into production, the designers actually went through the trouble of creating a prototype - Of course given that it featured plastic wheels, this model of Ener-G-Force was going nowhere in a hurry!
BMW Human-Drone Pursuit Vehicle
BMW's vision of the car was definitely more futuristic than the one presented by Mercedes. Predicting that the Los Angeles area will have to contend with even worse traffic than today, their design comprised of three drones - A main compartment which fit two people and two deployable side units. If a highway officer was engaged in a high-speed pursuit or emergency rescue effort during peak traffic times, he could do one of two things - Either release a drone that could autonomously fly or one that could continue the chase on a single wheel - Both, would be controlled by him and report back to him! And, they would of course be operating on some kind of green fuel source. Pretty awesome!
General Motors, Volt Squad
US car manufacturer General Motors entry, an all-electric car called the Volt Squad was also brimming with future technology. It too had a three-pronged approach. However, in this case instead of separating into different units, the car magically morphed into different shapes depending on whether the patrol officer was Observing (boring four wheel) Pursuing (more exciting motor bike) or Engaging (flying over!) with the offender!
Honda CHP Drone Squad
Honda's Drone Squad, designed by the company's American team will not only be able to get about efficiently and seamlessly on the California Highways with no change in infrastructure, but also, is designed as two-in-one vehicle. An Auto-Drone, which as the name indicates would work with or without an officer at the helm and a Moto-Drone, an un-manned motorcycle that could be deployed during a high pursuit or incase of multiple road offenders or accidents.
Honda “CHiPs” 2025 Traffic Crawler
The Japanese car manufacturer's second entry came from its Tokyo office. The Traffic Crawler that resembles a super-sized motor bike is designed on the premise that since every car would be running on 'green' fuel by 2025, bigger would be better again at least, on the streets of Los Angeles. They would therefore require a sporty but 'tough' vehicle to control. The motorbike would of course be fueled by Hydrogen.
Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept (SHARC)
While all the car concepts were pretty cool and radical, it was Subaru's SHARC that impressed the judges the most. Not only is it environmentally friendly and powered by renewable energy, but also, capable of operating autonomously for 24-hours, and therefore eliminating the need for a large full-time highway patrol staff. The designers believed this would be a huge plus for government officials who are already struggling with reduced budgets - A situation that can only get worse as world population increases.
Which of these cars would you like to see your highway patrol officers driving? Be sure to let us know, by adding your comments below.