Frankfurt previews tomorrow's technologies

If you want to know what technology your car will feature in five years, this week's Frankfurt auto show will give you a sneak preview. A few interesting examples:

• Collision warning systems will detect possible oncoming vehicles from any direction. For example, Denso has developed a global positioning system that transmits your vehicle's location to other vehicles. Delphi, TRW and Hyundai Mobis, among others, are showcasing their systems.

• Energy recovery systems will convert waste heat from your vehicle's exhaust into electricity. Amerigonhas developed such a system, and claims it can improve fuel economy 5 percent.

• Headlights and taillights on the Audi A2 adjust their beams automatically to changes in weather conditions. Each rear fog light has five laser diodes. In good weather, their light is invisible. But when it's foggy or raining, their beams become visible as a floating triangle.

• The BMW i3 with its carbon fiber body will offer a hint of that material's automotive potential. BMW has been coy about its sales goals for that vehicle, which goes on sale in 2013. But company executives have hinted that they hope to produce tens of thousands of units.

There's plenty more, too. The Frankfurt show is a treasure trove for those who want to know what's in store for the industry. We'll report on it as we learn more.

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