In a technology-driven world, it is only natural that automotive companies are on the search for new and improved ways to make the diving experience as seamless as possible. Just like mobile phones have evolved to do more than calls or texts, so will automobiles. Safety, comfort and automation continue to be the biggest trends in the automotive industry, but will we be seeing driverless cars hitting the road this year? While the technology is out there, people are still reluctant to get into a car that requires no human being behind the wheel, especially because of safety concerns. But that does not mean the automotive industry does not have a few other aces up their sleeves, to meet their customers’ expectations.
While a few years ago this was only a futuristic dream, being able to connect their car with other devices has turned into a basic demand of every driver. We live in the era of Alexa, Siri and other virtual assistants that have made our lives much easier at home and on the go, so there is no reason why cars should remain outside the virtual assistant zone. Automotive experts predict that digitalization and technological advancements will reach $82 billion by next year. Cars will come equipped with internet access and options to connect with your smartphone’s virtual assistant, being able to take voice commands and improve user experience. And it’s all thanks to Internet of Things.
In 2017, smart home integration was introduced through to a collaboration between Ford and Amazon, named Ford SYNC, which makes Alexa able to give in-car commands to carport doors, home lighting and other home devices. Following the success of this collaboration, other auto manufacturers are heading towards this trend. Samsung and BMW had a similar collaboration in 2016, through Samsung’s SmartThings app that can be connected with all BMW cars from 2013 and newer.
V2V and V2I Technology
While vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology have already been implemented on a smaller scale, it is expected to completely change the drivers’ experience within the next few years. V2V technology allows vehicles to communicate with each other on the road and V2I technology will take things further and allow cars to communicate to various road structures, such as traffic lights and gas stations. The need for such technology is paramount for the safety and future of driverless cars, but predictions reveal there is a high chance that all new cars will be equipped with smart technology by the year of 2023.
A big step in the development of V2V and V2I technologies has been the United Kingdom, with Highways England starting to work on a connected corridor for the A2/M2 in Kent in November 2018. The goal of the project is to install wireless technology that allows WI-FI equipped cars to receive information about connected roadworks, light timings and road conditions.
Connected cars will be able to measure distances between each other and adjust to road signals, thus being able to ease congestion and reduce accidents. Chris Riley from AutoWise predicts that, if this technology is proven successful and future cars have fewer chances of being involved in accidents, this could also significantly reduce insurance policies.
By the year 2030, 1 in 10 cars purchased will be a shared vehicle, as people become less and less interested and emotionally involved in the idea of owning a car. This could be due to factors such as rising fuel prices, climate change awareness and parking costs. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, are also contributing to the rising trend of car sharing, especially due to their low prices. A new app, named “Turo” is also believed to help shape people’s opinion about car sharing, as the app allows you to rent your vehicle to other drivers. The rising trend of car sharing is also set to affect the insurance market, opening up the possibility for shared insurance plans.
While people are still reluctant to trust autonomous cars and manufacturers still rely on human driver assistants for their autonomous vehicles, this is an ongoing trend that will continue to represent a big part of the future of the industry. It may take years or even decades to bring driverless cars to perfection, but manufacturers are slowly getting there.
Google engineers have already tested autonomous cars on more than 200,000 miles of public roads. The cars are recording roads, finding alternative routes, and reacting to traffic lights way better than a human being would be able to, thanks to their smart sensors that use lasers, cameras and radars. And given the fact that Americans spend around 100 hours in traffic every year, autonomous cars may be exactly what people need, in order to avoid stress and make commuting a way more pleasant activity.
Rearview cameras may not be an innovation, given the fact that most entry-level cars are already equipped with them, but as technology evolves, so will the quality of image and sensors, that will help you avoid hitting that shopping cart at the end of the parking lot.
GPS tracking will allow you to keep an eye on the car’s position and can be extremely helpful for the parents of teen drivers that want to keep an eye on their children an ensure their safety. Other sensors will enable parenting control, making parents able to set speed limits and other safety measurements.
Biometric seat technology will be able to use data from the driver’s palms and face to determine his condition. If, for example, the driver becomes anxious or tired, the sensors will instruct him to take a break.
Cruise control is also expected to experience some updates and will utilize its sensors to coordinate the speed of the vehicle, when it comes in contact with unpredictable traffic, making it more autonomous. This will allow the driver to rest and not always have to hit the brake or gas pedal when the car approaches other vehicles.