The era we live in is often defined by the technological revolution we have witnessed over the past century; the radio, the combustion engine, the jet engine, the micro-chip. The acceleration of technology in cars is now so fast that it is outdating recent launches within a matter of years. We are standing on the cusp of an exciting era because the driving experience will be transformed in the coming decade. We bring you a look at the technologies that will be shaping our world in the not so distant future.
Driver Override Systems:
Like an advanced AEB, where the car will stop itself if you fail to, the driver override system will completely ignore the driver’s acceleration if it considers there is a need to stop immediately. The rapid increase in sensor technology will force the shift in priority from the driver to the car having the final say in the heat of the moment.
Alternative Driving Mode:
The BMW i Future Vision concept at Consumer Electronics Show 2016 showcased some alternative driving modes. Not the usual Sport, Comfort or Eco modes but driver control and autonomous control. Opt for the latter and the steering wheel recedes to allow you a bigger cabin space to enable you to have a video conference call on your enhanced entertainment screen or enjoy your music to full effect.
Car-to-car communication is the vision that all vehicles will be connected and sharing their movements continuously. The smart bit comes when a driver receives an alert to warn him about something he’s not yet able to see for example; a motorbike is approaching but is hidden from view by the lorry it is about to overtake. The car anticipates his action and sends him an alert. The driver could now change their decision to turn or overtake and wait since they have received information about a vehicle they wouldn’t have been able to see.
Being in your car need not mean being cut off from the rest of your life. Connection for BMW means your car will communicate with all aspects of your life such as your smart home. BMW have already partnered with Napster and Deezer so you can listen to your playlists at home or in the car via their ConnectedDrive app. Take it one step further and your sat-nav will be able to tell your house you are stuck in traffic and anticipate how late you will arrive, so the heating system delays itself for an hour and saves your energy bill.
For smart parking, your car could also help you identify the empty parking spaces near your destination or even pre-book you a parking bay before you arrive via your mobile parking app.
Biometric Vehicle Access:
Losing your keys is so last decade! A lot like the latest form of mobile phone security, you will be able to unlock and start your car with no key fob, just your fingerprint. Another aspect to this is Smart DNA which is already in use in Sweden and the U.S. military. SigNature DNA uses your unique DNA code and applies it to your property as your personal identity number. This makes is almost impossible for anyone to change the identity of your car. The DNA can be held in ink, varnish, fabric and metal coatings and is almost impossible to remove.
Comprehensive Vehicle Tracking:
Insurance companies have started to offer reduced rates to individuals who opt for comprehensive vehicle tracking. Many are opposed to this ‘big brother’ data production, but developments might take us so far that we reach mandatory vehicle tracking from some insurance companies.
Active Window Displays:
Heads-Up Display has developed so fast since their inception, to the extent that you can forget the slightly grainy number on the windscreen. By 2020 expect to see navigation systems which have an augmented reality of your view on your windscreen with highlights for your next turn before you make it. To enhance your drive further, the car will give you optimum speed for every curve and warn you of hazards before you see them.
Remote Vehicle Shutdown:
Telematics company OnStar has already been using telematics to shut down hundreds of stolen cars, ending police chases quickly and safely. This is expected to become more widespread as it offers a quick solution to car chases and should improve insurance premiums for those who have this technology in their cars.
Ford Motor Company has previewed the idea of seatbelt or steering wheel sensors which monitor your vital statistics as your drive. You simply pair your car to a device you wear which tracks your body’s vital functions as you drive. Then, if severe life threatening symptoms such as a heart attack are identified, as with autonomous override systems, the car is stopped safely and the emergency services are called.
Both BMW and VW both previewed their next-generation plan featuring gesture control. ‘AirTouch’, in the BMW i Future Vision, is able to interpret your movements into commands without you touching anything. If you prefer you can always use the pressure sensors located in the steering wheel and beneath the leather on the center console.
Automated Valet parking:
This is not the park assist systems that we have today, nor the remote control driving systems we are starting to see previewed. This is a fully automated valet parking system. When you have arrived at your destination, you press a button and leave the car to work things out on its own. Using a series of cameras and lasers it will find a parking space that fits, parks itself and waits for you to return.
Wireless charging is set to eliminate the cable for charging plug-ins. Mercedes, BMW, Nissan are all jockeying for position to get first to market. Mercedes 2017 facelifted S500e hybrid will offer wireless charging as an option. Reported to be 90% efficient, the 3.6kW system will replenish itself in just two hours. Fears about being in close proximity to such a strong magnetic field can feel reassured as the system automatically shuts down if it detects anything that could come to harm nearby including living objects. The company developing the system; Qualcomm, are optimistic that 20kW should also be possible in the near future.
The biggest challenge for electric cars is the battery life drains too quickly when the car is driven too fast for too long. Induction charging is a concept already used by trains and mobile phones. This will require the laying of a series of plates in the road to transfer power back into the cells stored in the car so your journey need no longer be constrained by fear that your battery will run out mid-journey. Sounds fantastic, but it’s going to need a massive investment; especially in infrastructure, to bring this to life for our cities.
Water & Dirt Repelling Paint:
Nissan have developed technology which uses microstructures similar to those found on leaves, to repel water and oils so they don’t stick to the paint. Whilst they do not plan to launch it immediately they may offer this technology as an option in the near future.
So if this is the near future, what should be on the horizon for Vision 2030? Manufacturers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz predict that fully autonomous driving will be frequently used. Car ownership will be reserved for longer journeys rather than regular city driving. Technology will make travel a more fluid concept. We will be more likely to step out onto the street and hail a self-driving car which we will share with the passengers who are travelling to a similar destination.
Cars can be anticipated as they are connected, with sat-navs relaying the information for our planned journeys, enabling us to join a journey with our social media friends in the vicinity. Making for a more socially and environmentally minded safer system.
However so, we must also remember that we in the third world have to wait longer for some technologies already available in the first world to reach us. But all in all, it sounds very promising.
By Rowan Benn
Marketing Director, MHH International Ltd