11 technologies that will revolutionise how you drive
I don't know about you but as much as I love a raw, thrilling driving experience, I'm also really excited about straight-out-of-Sci-Fi technology such as iris recognition, holograms and augmented reality. This is the tech that's going to change how we drive.
There are plenty of electric cars on our roads but that number is only going to grow as the government cracks down on emissions, and charging infrastructures get better.
Hydrogen is another alternative fuel we're going to be seeing more of too, particularly for business fleets, buses and taxis. At the moment the infrastructure is a little lacking outside of big cities but it's growing rapidly.
At the Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai unveiled its FE Fuel Cell Concept, which represents the next step for Hyundai toward realising its ultimate ambition of creating a zero-emission Hydrogen Energy Society.
Intuitive driver displays
The interiors of cars are starting to look like the cockpit of a spaceship (well, not really, but you get my point). Just take a look at Tesla's huge touchscreen or the heads up displays that are becoming more and more common.
This video above from McLaren shows its folding driver display, giving you the choice of the kind of information you're seeing when in the car. With this much info at our finger tips, who needs to check Facebook?
That being said, it's becoming increasingly common for cars to have their own local WiFi. Believe it or not, this isn't so you can check your phone while driving. The first car I drove with this feature this was a Chevrolet Corvette, very handy considering I was in Texas and data cost a fortune from my UK phone.
Now this feature is being rolled out in cars over here too - the Vauxhall Astra OnStar has it, for example - it's proving useful for those of us who want to listen to those Spotify tracks we didn't remember to mark as available offline. It's also handy if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and need assistance, or if your car needs to connect to its environment.
Ford is one of the first car manufacturers to test the large-scale 3D printing of parts to improve efficiency, affordability and personalisation options.
Specifications for the part are transferred from the computer-aided design program to the printer’s computer, which analyses the design. Then, the device goes to work, printing one layer of material at a time – in this case, plastic – and then gradually stacking the layers into a finished 3D object.
When the system detects that the supply material canister is empty, a robotic arm automatically replaces it with a full canister. This allows the printer to operate for hours or days unattended.
Though 3D printing isn’t fast enough for high-volume production manufacturing (yet), it is a more cost-efficient way to produce parts only needed at low volumes. In addition, when not limited by the constraints of mass production processes, components can be designed to function more efficiently.
Internet of Things
Soon, everything with be connected and that will mean our cars can talk to one another and the environments we travel in. This will make traffic reporting more accurate, will reduce congestion and will even warn you of things that need to be avoided such as potholes.
This is a very important step in the journey towards autonomous cars. In order to move smoothly around a city, a driverless vehicle needs to communicate seamlessly with potential hazards, road signs and more. Having sensors in every device, traffic light, building and road will ensure our autonomous future is as safe and efficient as possible.
Fun electric cars
Let's be honest, electric cars can be a little boring and the ones that aren't are far more expensive than any normal person would ever be able to afford. Thankfully, that is going to change as electric battery and motor technology improves.
The Nissan BladeGlider is a fun electric concept car that gives us an idea of what we can expect from electric cars in the future. The BladeGlider is a three-seater sports car that puts the driver right in the centre of the action. It'll do 0-62mph in less than five seconds (despite its hefty weight) and also features a drift mode - as show in the video above.
The tyre that never needs inflating
Falken unveiled the future of tyres at the Geneva Motor Show. Developed at its Japanese headquarters, the Gyroblade features a metal core with lightweight resin blades clad with a special rubber tread.
The result is a tyre that never needs inflation, removing the need and weight of a spare, as well as negating the safety concerns over under-inflated tyres. Initial testing on vehicles in Japan suggests they last as long as regular tyres too.
Tech firm and automotive specialists Harman has recently shown how augmented reality (AR) applications will enhance the in-car experience in the future. Soon the days of driving round and round trying to find the perfect parking spot will be gone. AR will give the driver real-time information on roadside parking, navigation, what's nearby and more.
To achieve this this level of AR, Harman has announced a collaboration to develop a full windscreen heads-up display with WayRay, a pioneer of holographic AR displays for the auto industry. These holographic optical elements enable a projection system that is significantly more compact than traditional mirror and lens based projection technology.
Fully autonomous capabilities
Autonomous is the buzz word of vehicle technology at the moment so it'd be silly not to mention it here. Trials are still ongoing to overcome the hurdle of handing control from the car to the driver and vice-versa.
More and more concepts are being unveiled by manufacturers and our cars are getting increasingly clever with autonomous features being added into even the most basic of cars.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the tyre and technology manufacturer Continental, showcased innovations such as in-vehicle biometrics where facial and fingerprint recognition can be used to enhance security.
Biometrics firm Delta ID and automotive electronics manufacturer Gentex Corporation have partnered to introduce a rearview mirror with iris recognition technology. The mirror can scan the iris of the driver when they enter the vehicle, identifying them and automatically performing actions such as starting the car and adjusting mirrors, steering wheel, and seat to the driver’s preferred settings.
BMW recently unveiled its holographic screen that will react to a user's 'touch' without any physical interaction. HoloActive Touch is moving BMW's gesture technology one step further.
The image of the holographic, full-colour display is generated by reflections, appearing to float within the interior. It has been developed to display configurable control pads and will be visible to the driver next to the steering wheel at the height of the centre console. Cameras then pick up the driver's hand movements and registers the position of their fingertips.
Regardless of how you feel about the way our cars are changing, you can't deny that some of these technologies are pretty cool. We're moving into a new era of mobility that will make travel safer and more efficient.
What automotive technology are you most excited about?