Automotive technology has taken on a new level of importance as drivers expect continuous improvements in luxury, safety, and performance. While not every development is a life-altering breakthrough, many of the latest engineer innovations of the automotive industry can drastically impact the lives of drivers for the better.
- Virtual Reality In-Car Entertainment – Audi recently presented a demonstration of their “Audi Experience Drive” at the CES trade show. The new development allows passengers to use virtual reality to transform the average car ride. This technology is expected to be available to consumers as soon as late 2020.
- Wireless Charging Pads – While cables can be used to charge phones while driving, they’re also easy to misplace or damage. Drivers no longer have to worry about this, regardless of whether they have an Apple, Samsung, or Google phone. Wireless charging pads have begun to make their way into cars, a feature that will become increasingly invaluable to consumers.
- Real-Time Emotional Adaptive Driving – The ability for self-driving cars to be able to adapt to drivers’ moods is now a possibility. The system relies on A.I. and biosignal recognition to evaluate the driver’s mood and adjust the ambiance accordingly. Kia has been working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab’s Affective Computing Group to develop this system and recently presented at CES. It has not yet been determined when READ-equipped vehicles will be available at the Orlando Audi dealership, or any others for that matter.
- Vehicle Control Apps – The technology to control your home from your lights to air conditioning through an app has been around for years so it only makes sense that automakers are now investing in the technology for their own vehicle control apps. It is indisputable that drivers have come a long way from requiring a traditional metal key to access and start their cars but the app allows them to easily locate their car, monitor the area around the vehicle and sound alarms as needed, and even park. Many popular automakers and independent service providers have created their own apps with varying degrees of innovation.
- Steering Avoidance – This feature allows vehicles to automatically swerve out of the way if objects are detected in the road, or if you are out of the center of your lane. This is especially beneficial when there is no time, or no room, to break safely to avoid an accident. Steering avoidance can mean the difference between totaling a car or making it safely to a destination.
- PRE-SAFE® Sound – Before collision occurs, a frequency can be released into the car which causes a reflex in the ear in preparation for the sounds it is about to endure. This can protect the inner ear and help drivers maintain their full range of senses to react to the aftermath of the accident. Currently, PreSafe Sound is only offered in the new Mercedes-Benz E Class.
- DriverFocus – Using facial recognition software, DriverFocus is designed to detect and address driver fatigue. A small camera mounted on the dashboard evaluates for signs of distraction or fatigue. If it detects either, it will warn the driver. It can also activate the breaks if a collision is predicted.
- Road Scanning – A camera within the car makes quick, exceptionally detailed readings of the road’s surface to determine if there are any irregularities ahead of the car. The advanced system is designed with the ability to discern false readings that are caused by dirt and other factors. Developed by Hitachi Automotive Systems, road scanning technology can help prevent damage to a vehicle’s tires, bumper, and alignment.
- Airless Tires – Michelin and General Motors are currently testing their prototype for a puncture-proof tire, “Uptis”. The cutting-edge airless design prevents the possibility of tires being punctured and causing blowouts that can be dangerous. They should also need to be replaced less which can save money on vehicle maintenance.
- Modular Car Architectures – A trend this in car design has been the development of modular car architectures that will support digital mobility. By focusing on both front- and back-end development, it is the hope that innovation like BMW’s modularized Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) can improve scalability, efficiency, and safety.
From A.I. to A.R., there is no doubt that advancements in automotive engineering will only become more impressive as automakers continue to compete for consumers.