A modified ‘82 Pontiac Trans Am, K.I.T.T. (or Knight Industries Two Thousand) very much looked like a car of the future, but you might be surprised to know just how much of the technology featured in K.I.T.T. is available in our cars today.
K.I.T.T.’s artificial intelligence allowed it to respond to its surroundings, and the car could drive itself without any assistance, the distinctive front red scan bar acting as its eyes. Considering the type of technology used today to assist with parking and navigation, as well as the collision-avoidance systems already used by several manufacturers, it seems we’re not far off from K.I.T.T. type intelligence, and with driverless cars currently being trialled it looks like the self-driving aspect could soon be a common reality.
K.I.T.T. could communicate directly with the driver, Michael Knight, using a voice synthesiser. The synthesiser could also speak different languages, and mimic other sounds, too. Although our cars don’t talk to us (yet), in a world that has Siri and Alexa it’s undoubtably only a matter of time, with several manufacturers already developing voice recognition ‘assistants’ to help drivers with various tasks.
A Molecular Bonded Shell protected K.I.T.T. from gunfire and was even strong enough to withstand explosives. In some episodes, thanks to its MBS bodywork, K.I.T.T. would ram right through walls without damage, it was also fireproof! Today, you can armour plate a limo or Range Rover without needing to turn it into a tank, adding bulletproof glass and run-flat tyres, too.
The turbo boost allowed K.I.T.T. to spectacularly leap over obstacles. It could also increase the vehicle’s top speed, using hydrogen (a zero-emission fuel) with another fuel to make K.I.T.T. an early hybrid! With the turbo boost, K.I.T.T. could reach a top speed beyond 200mph. Even without the turbo boost, the car could go from 0 to 60mph in 2 seconds. Nowadays, the Porsche 918 Spyder can do it in 2.2 seconds, and although we perhaps don’t have the ability to leap obstacles as standard, we can currently boost a car’s speed. The kinetic energy recovery system (or KERS) used in Formula 1 cars stores energy generated when braking and redeploys it for acceleration. Similarly, an injection of nitrous oxide can boost an engine’s power, too.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk has also announced bold plans to combine the research across his companies to create a Tesla Roadster with specialised rocket thrusters. The thrusters won't combust but instead release highly pressurised cold air. It's a feature that may work, but it baffles engineers and experts because they won't be very efficient and certainly won't be street legal.
Michael Knight could communicate with others from his car using K.I.T.T.’s internal video display. These days, a video display is rightly considered a serious safety risk, otherwise we could be using FaceTime equivalents in our vehicles. As it is, Bluetooth technology allows for hands-free calls while driving instead, which is far safer.
There was a medical scanner in K.I.T.T. which could check for injuries, poisons, and even emotional conditions. Today, some Fords come with an ECG heart rate monitoring seat and if a problem is detected, such as a heart attack, then collision avoidance technology is activated and the vehicle is brought to a careful stop. With smart-watches usually containing a heart rate monitor too, do you think it will take much time before it can be connected through Bluetooth and used in the same way?
An array of gadgets like those of a Bond car were also part of K.I.T.T.’s repertoire. K.I.T.T. could deploy a smoke screen or oil slick, launch a grappling hook, teargas, and even use a flamethrower, amongst other things. Alright, so these aren’t exactly commonplace in today’s cars, but some military vehicles are similarly equipped, and Aston Martin recently announced plans to build a real- life DB5 Bond car, equipped with gadgets! So, you know... it’s possible.
Michael Knight could send a signal to K.I.T.T. through a pendant he wore which summoned the vehicle to him. These days, thanks to GPS technology, you can summon your driverless Tesla to you via your smartphone; keep your finger on the screen and the car will navigate traffic and other obstacles to come and pick you up!
But forget K.I.T.T. - what upgrade would you love to add to your vehicle? Maybe you’d like to cut down the time at the drive thru with a built-in coffee dispenser, equipped with an IV drip feed to keep you alert on long journeys? Or perhaps a built-in parking space locator? How about a bird-poop deflector? Add your ideas to the comments section...