As a company bustling with automotive and tech geeks, at ETHOZ we are always engaging in vivid discussions over new and upcoming automotive tech advancements. In this article, we present to you 6 innovative future car technologies that have been making their rounds in recent conversations.
Original Featured Image: iStock
1. Communication between cars and surroundings
Imagine the vehicle in front of you communicating with your vehicle about intending to make a lane change, or relaying information about a flat tire so you can make the relevant allowances.
Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication (V2V) is a technology that uses wireless signals to send data between vehicles. A step further is Vehicle-to-Infrastructure communication (V2I), which refers to the exchange of information between vehicles and traffic management systems. Pertinent details that can be exchanged include road conditions such as accidents or roadblocks ahead. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, incorporating V2V and V2I technology is expected to reduce vehicle crashes by 81 percent.
At the Consumer Electronics Show 2018, Ford and telecom chip maker Qualcomm announced their continued partnership in developing a “Vehicle to Everything Technology”. They are in the process of developing a chip that encompasses both V2V and V2I technology.
2. Augmented Reality Windscreen and Windows
Image: Wind River
Think driving in a virtual reality game at the arcade. Navigational arrows and details such as your driving speed are clearly displayed on screen. Augmented Reality is the in-between of virtual reality and reality. It overlays virtual imagery on the real view from the driver’s seat. In doing so, the windscreen becomes the focal point. Drivers can be easily distracted when gathering information from several focal points. The risk of accident is reduced when the focal point is kept to a minimum.
This is especially beneficial to drivers who are heavily reliant on the GPS system. For instance, private hire car rental drivers. It will also give chauffeur service passengers a peace of mind to know where exactly the driver is heading.
Both Toyota and Apple have filed for patents for Augmented Reality window displays. Toyota’s technology focuses on an augmented representation of a vehicle’s width in a lane. Apple’s purpose seems to be more social. Its technology allows passengers in different vehicles to FaceTime call each other, similar to how you can communicate with other players on your team in a virtual reality game. The only thing to keep in mind? There is no restart game button, so drive with care!
3. Live Parking Map
We are all too familiar with the experience of running late for an appointment from circling congested carparks or crawling up giddy spiral multi-storey carparks in search for a parking spot. German automobile parts supplier Bosch nips this issue in the bud with its latest technology – a Live Parking Map.
As they drive around, vehicles equipped with the technology measure the distance between parked vehicles and provide a live update to a map. The map can then be accessed by all drivers. The technology is currently being tested in Germany and later this year in other American cities.
This innovation not only saves time for drivers, but also reduces environmental pollution with the elimination of cars driving fruitlessly around maximized carparks.
4. External Airbags
Image: The Telegraph
Adopted by automobile giants Ford and General Motors in the 1970s, airbags were first seen as an alternative to seatbelts, which were commonly dismissed as a hassle then. As we know today, it is essential to utilise both safety systems concurrently. Airbags work on a sensor system. Approaching a collision, sensors detect the oncoming impact. Assessing the severity and location of the impact, the system control unit sends a signal to the inflator. The inflator triggers an instantaneous ignition of a chemical mix that inflates the bags rapidly.
While airbags deployed inside the car such as head, thorax, curtain and knee airbags are widely in use, Mercedes-Benz brought a fresh perspective to the table with external airbags. Made to deploy under the front of the car milliseconds before an impact, the airbag drags against the road surface, effectively doubling the stopping power of the brake. It also lifts the vehicle up to eight centimeters, countering the dipping motion during braking. This creates better bumper-to-bumper compatibility in a potential collision. It also prevents passengers from sliding under seatbelts.
It is safe to say that the airbag has the potential to go beyond the passive role of protecting the passenger to an active role of stopping a car.
5. Solar-powered Vehicles
Millennials are all about sustainability, and automobile giants are on the same wavelength. With hybrid and Electric vehicles rapidly gaining ground, Exxon Mobil predicts that by 2040, half of new cars will be hybrids. However, the key issues with electric and hybrid vehicles are the weight of the battery and lack of availability of charging stations. This is where solar power comes in.
Toyota introduced a solar panel option on its Prius hybrid plug-in model in 2012 that produced approximately 50 watts of energy. Last year, Toyota upgraded the function with a solar panel roof developed by Panasonic that provides up to 180 watts. Increasing the car’s efficiency by about 10 percent, it reportedly adds up to four miles of range per day. This option is currently only available in Japanese and European markets.
Source: New Atlas
Lightyear, a Dutch company founded in 2016, will deliver its first model of a solar-powered electric car in 2020. Named Lightyear One, the car is equipped with more than 40 square feet of solar cells. It boasts to be able to go months without requiring a charge, with 75 percent of its yearly usage covered by the sun. For rare occasions when solar power is not available, it has a charging port that allows it to charge at a rate of about 25 miles per hour or 350 miles at a fast-charging station.
It’s a matter of time before we will be driving on sunshine.
6. Self-Healing paint
Allow us to make a Marvel-lous analogy here. Similar to Wolverine’s mutation that allows his body to regenerate from injuries, Nissan’s self-healing paint technology does the same. The self-healing technology works through elasticity of the resin bonds. Upon impact, the bonds compress. Over the subsequent week, the bonds slowly restore their original shape. Drawing a parallel to how Wolverine perished in the end despite his self-healing superpower, the damage is irreversible if the bonds within the coat are severed completely.
So when will these technologies be widely adopted? While we do not have a definitive answer, we can be sure exciting times are ahead. In the meantime, we are keeping our eyes peeled and the geeky discussions going. Join us in the comments section below!