Just like in fashion, where old ideas are being reused and modified to suit the contemporary needs, the breakthrough-prone automotive industry is actually using technologies that were envisioned first decades or even centuries ago.
Hyundai and Toyota (and by the end of next year) are already offering motorists in the US the possibility of purchasing a new vehicle that uses fuel cells and run on hydrogen, billed as environmentally breakthrough cars and a step towards building what futurists label as a “Hydrogen Society.” You might imagine hydrogen as the fuel of the future, but we should remember the chemical element is in its monatomic form the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. So, it should not come as a major surprise that fuel cells have a long past – with its first serious usage during the Apollo moon mission and it can be traced back to the mid-19th Century.
And this is the case with numerous technologies springing across the crop of today’s most advanced autos actually have a history that is decades or even centuries old – for example even the automobile itself can be traced to the days of the Roman Empire. Back then, a self-propelled carriage, which used as a propulsion system tightly wound human hair (think of a rubber band), was used in the Coliseum in the days of 3rd Century Emperor Commodius. That’s because just like in any other technology sector, scientists and engineers can think of breakthrough ideas that are very promising but simply can’t be put to practical use with the existing level of technology knowledge. For example, the genius of Leonardo DaVinci produced back in 1490 the concept of what is today a continuously variable transmission.