Motor industry insiders tend to claim that if car technology had developed at the same pace as computer technology, we’d all be flying around (perhaps literally) in self-driving vehicles by now. This may seem the stuff of science fiction but it’s not that far from reality.
To illustrate the point, here are six of the latest car-tech innovations set to revolutionise the way we travel…
1) Autonomous driving/vehicle-to-vehicle communication
Despite the hype, a self-driving car is yet to make it into mainstream production. But the prospect is getting more likely by the day.
One crucial development is vehicle-to-vehicle communication, being pioneered by the likes of Volvo and Honda. Using sensors and GPS signals, cars can now interact with each other, and with traffic signals and signs – generating real-time information about road conditions.
The technology enables vehicles to negotiate junctions without driver input, deciding between themselves who has priority and responding accordingly. This innovation is playing a huge part in the development of robot cars.
2) On-board health monitors
Scientists at Ford have been exploring the possibility of inserting tiny heart-rate monitors into seatbelts, car seats and steering wheels to detect when a driver is at risk of a medical emergency.
When warning signals such as an elevated heart rate or soaring temperature are detected, a car’s autonomous driving system kicks in and brings it to a safe halt or transports the driver to the nearest hospital. And it can even call ahead so the staff know what’s coming.
3) Augmented reality (AR) displays
Imagine receiving information on your car’s windscreen on the depth and location of nearby potholes, weather conditions and the speed of other vehicles.
At Jaguar and Land-Rover new vehicles are rolling off the production line with “smart glass” technology. This turns car windows into video screens projecting a dazzling array of holographic images to augment the driver’s view of the world.
4) Energy-storing body panels
Today’s electric and hybrid cars save fuel, reduce emissions and can even recharge their batteries without being plugged in. No wonder they have grown in popularity in recent years - sales of electric cars rose by 61.7% in June, with 2,461 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered in the UK that month.
Their latest feature is energy-storing body panels. Pioneered by Toyota and BMW, these get around the problems associated with bulky batteries whereby space is optimised and weight is minimised, further enhancing efficiency.
5) Adjustable body panels
On the subject of body panels, another innovation enables motorists to adjust the shape and size of their car according to their needs.
Say you want a modest hatchback to nip around town but could do with a larger estate car for weekend family outings. With adjustable body panels, you simply reconfigure the car to create the space you need.
Manufacturers including BMW and Chrysler are reported to be exploring this technology, in an effort to give motorists ultimate flexibility in their choice of car. Maybe it’s the shape of things to come.
6) Biometric access and starting
The development of keyless entry and starting on cars was revolutionary when Mercedes introduced it in 1998. But the next phase of car security is already upon us – and it’s even more futuristic.
Now, car makers are trialling fingerprint or retinal scanning as a way of entering, locking and starting cars, using the same technology that features on the latest smart phones. Ford applied for a patent on the technology in 2015, so it’s only a matter of time before it comes to market.
Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article.
This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 24-04-2018.
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