Automotive technology has come a long way since the first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908. We’re still a long way from future car technology like flying or self-driving cars we’ve dreamed up and featured in science fiction stories for decades. Despite the apparent lack of advancement, it is an exciting time to be an automotive enthusiast. Check out these cool tech innovations that are upgrading the automotive experience.
1. Solid-State Batteries
Right now, electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion battery packs. While they’re functional, each vehicle requires an enormous battery pack to function. The new Hummer EV has a battery pack that gives it a range of 350 miles between charges — and weighs 2,923 pounds. Solid-state batteries, on the other hand, offer better energy density than current li-ion batteries at a fraction of the size. A standard EV solid-state battery would weigh about as much as a full gas tank and charge in a few minutes instead of hours. Unlike gasoline or the lithium in li-ion battery-powered EVs, sold state battery packs aren’t flammable.
2. Automated Parking Assist
Finding a parking space in a crowded urban center is already a challenge. It will only get more challenging as city populations climb in the next decade or two. Automated parking assist could allow a car to take over and handle every step of the parking process. These technologies could help streamline the parking process, so drivers no longer have to struggle through awkward parallel parking maneuvers.
3. Augmented Reality
What screams future car technology more than a heads-up display? Augmented reality or AR, projects virtual items onto real-world surfaces and objects. Combining AR with a heads-up display on the dash or windshield of a new car can project important information like speed, navigation and more right into the driver’s line of sight. An AR system can keep all this essential data in the driver’s eye line so they don’t have to look down and take their eyes off the road. Drivers who own older cars don’t have to be left out here — there are aftermarket AR HUDs that can achieve the same goals.
4. Automotive Stamping
The process of fabricating the necessary components and assembling an automobile has evolved substantially over the last century. Automotive stamping — using dies to stamp finished products out of coils or flat sheets of metal — has become an invaluable tool for assembling everything from connector pin arrays and electromagnetic shieldings to the vital high-vibration connectors for commercial vehicles. It might not be a technology that the average driver experiences when they get behind the wheel, but it helps to ensure higher quality and more efficient production lines.
5. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT), at its most basic, is a network of connected devices. These devices can communicate, trading information and using that data to streamline their operations. Anyone who’s set up smart devices in their home is familiar with what these networks are capable of. In a single vehicle, IoT-enabled sensors can monitor the engine’s health or other moving parts, reporting to the driver when one or more of these systems require maintenance. IoT devices focus more on maintaining than upgrading your ride, but it’ll be essential moving forward to keep your daily driver on the road.
6. Intervehicle Communication
On the topic of IoT, there is also the subject of intervehicle communication. Cars and trucks equipped with these networked sensors may also gain the ability to communicate. This on-the-road communication will become invaluable as self-driving cars become more common. If all the cars on the road could talk to each other and were driving themselves, it could eliminate the need for traffic signals. There’s no need for a stoplight to interrupt traffic flow when self-driving cars can move effortlessly between one another.
For most drivers, losing a set of keys is an expensive inconvenience. New advances in biometric technology could eliminate the need for keys instead keying the vehicle’s start sequence to the driver’s unique biometrics. Additionally, facial recognition could become a valuable tool for driver comfort in vehicles shared between more than one driver. All it takes is a quick scan of the driver’s face for the car to know who is behind the wheel so it can adjust to that driver’s preferences and settings.
8. Interior Monitoring
Some medical conditions can cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle, veering into oncoming traffic or crashing into unmoving objects. Vehicles equipped with interior monitoring could help prevent these accidents by paying close attention to the health of their driver. Cars equipped with internal monitoring can analyze the driver’s heart rate, facial expressions, breathing patterns and more through cameras installed on the dashboard. If it detects a health crisis that puts the driver at risk of losing control, these vehicles can either shut the engine off or switch to a self-driving mode while signaling for help.
9. Brain-to-Vehicle Technology
Many of these examples of future car technology are already showing up in modern vehicles, but there is still a long way to go for some of these options. Who needs a steering wheel when all a driver has to do is think about where they want to go? Nissan is working on a brain-to-vehicle technology that allows drivers to steer with their minds instead of a steering wheel. The theory behind this technology is that a split second can make an enormous difference in reaction times. With current technology, drivers need to decide and then carry it out. The brain to vehicle technology eliminates the middleman, allowing the driver to take advantage of that split-second that might make all the difference.
Moving The Human Race Forward
Automotive technology is racing forward almost faster than we can keep up. These cool tech innovations are just a tiny sampling of what automotive manufacturers are working on to make cars safer and more efficient as they move the human race forward.