In the last few years, the automotive sector has worked for hand in hand with some of the brightest minds in the tech industry to deliver safer, comfortable, and the most advanced vehicles to consumers.
New safety features, seamless connectivity options, and advanced GPS satellite navigation now come standard on most of the new vehicles.
Similar to cell phones, which are now capable of making more than just calls, cars of today can do much more than taking you from one point to another.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things have led to the development of highly sophisticated automobiles that would have startled even the industry pioneers.
In short, the transformation is so profound that the industry looks nothing like it used to.
In this blog, you’ll see some groundbreaking innovations and advancements that happened in recent years. It includes electrification, automation, and V2V communication among other things, of which many will come standard in automobiles in the months and years ahead.
In no particular order, let’s begin!
We never seriously saw electricity as a means of powering our automobiles until recently. Today, it is happening, and for the last few years, electrification has become a significant component of our mobility. Tesla is leading in all-electric car technology, but other automakers such as Nissan and BMW have announced their intentions to promote EVs in the coming years.
While electric cars currently represent less than 2 per cent of global car sales, the figures are expected to rise in the following years.
A recent study conducted by PwC found that EVs will make up 44 per cent of the E.U. market by 2030. At the same time, electric cars will reach 50 per cent and 20 per cent in China and the U.S. respectively.
The rapid adoption indicates the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly transportation, which is fueled by improved fuel efficiency as well as the regulations that require a reduction in carbon emissions.
There have been concerns among car enthusiasts about the longevity of electric power as a source to drive a vehicle, but recent innovations within the auto industry have mostly put these to rest.
The longer battery life and reduced prices have made electric vehicles effective competitor to regular vehicles. Moreover, with the rising number of charging points and an increase in car safety features, many consumers now see EVs as a wise investment.
With each day, autonomous cars are moving closer to reality. Several vehicles already come with semi-autonomous capabilities such as automatic-braking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and mapping technology.
The auto industry aims to roll out cars with increased automation over time. Before becoming completely autonomous, the vehicles will go through different stages in which the control can be switched between the driver and the machine depending upon various conditions.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, following are the levels that will lead to the ultimate reality of completely driverless cars.
Level 0: Zero automation
Level 1: Control is shared between the vehicle and the driver
Level 2: The car can be self-driven, but the driver must be ready to intervene
Level 3: The system can take full control and manage emergencies, but the driver still needs to be vigilant
Level 4: The vehicle in ‘auto mode’ will perform all the driving functions under favourable conditions. If circumstances don’t permit, control can be shifted to the driver.
Level 5: Completely driverless vehicle
Tesla with its ‘Autopilot Mode’ and Waymo with its self-driving technology seem to have achieved Level 4 automation, but the incidents initiated by Model X and Google autonomous vehicle suggest that the quality of sensors, signal processing, and algorithm still need improvements.
It is also pertinent to mention that any advancements made in the field of automation will not go from rare to ubiquitous overnight.
Semi-automated cars are now being tested on roads, but mainstreaming the technology will require advanced infrastructure, new insurance policies, uniform standards, and legal framework. Public trust and acceptance for the fully-autonomous driving will grow through tangible improvements in the technology and clarity of information about it.
The automotive active window display is an advanced technology that comes in a growing fleet of luxury cars. The head-up displays enable the drivers to inspect the environment and see information about vehicles and objects on their window screens. Some BMW cars come equipped with active window displays showing basic information.
Toyota has also partnered with Intel and Microsoft for its Human-Machine Interface (HMI) project to make this technology a reality. The display technology will turn the car windshield into a dashboard that displays navigation details, car speed, and even incoming phone calls and text messages.
V2X and V2V communication:
The V2X communication (vehicle to everything) is a technology that allows cars to talk to objects in the surrounding like street signs and lamp posts. It passes information to entities that improve safety and traffic efficiency.
Toyota became the first company to introduce a V2X system in its vehicles in 2016. After the successful implementation, other brands such as GM and Ford soon followed suit. Due to the vitality of the technology, we may find it a standard when we buy any car in the future.
V2V communication (vehicle to vehicle) is a more specific type of communication that allows automobiles to send messages to each other and share vital information about speed, traffic, the direction of travel, location, etc.
This makes vehicles act as communicating nodes that provide each other information about speed and position to minimize accidents and traffic congestion.
According to the NHTSA, implementation of the V2V system would result in a minimum of 13 per cent fewer traffic accidents and 439,000 fewer crashes every year.
Adaptive Cruise Control:
Driving can be tough, especially if you are commuting on a busy road with variable speed limits.
The adaptive cruise control makes the driving experience a lot less stressful with its array of advanced sensors.
The system enables a vehicle to match the speed of a car in front of it, so the driver doesn’t have to hit the gas or brake now and then on a busy highway. It can even bring a car to a halt and then resume without the driver’s intervention.
With the pace of development in the auto industry, it is not possible to cover all the innovations and inventions in their entirety. We have tried to compile some of the greatest automobile advancements that have happened in the last few years.
If you feel we have missed some big ones, feel free to add in the comments.