It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of self-driving, computerized cars was still seen as some Jetson’s fantasy. Fortunately, the explosion of technology over the last 15 to 20 years has propelled innovation to the point that the “future” has arrived. Car companies are all racing to incorporate the latest trends, gadgets and technologies into their vehicles. The result is consumers are having new experiences, and forming different relationships to the vehicles they drive.
The most exciting technology on the market is the self-driving capabilities that car manufacturers are beginning to offer. The electric car company Tesla has been spearheading the effort to bring self-driving vehicles to consumers. Tech giants like Google have also been experimenting with their own versions of driverless vehicles. A driverless car made by Delphi Automotive completed a cross-country trip as early as 2015. With every passing day it seems we are getting closer and closer to truly autonomous vehicles. The technology is already becoming widespread to a lesser degree among many other car manufacturers. Safety features like automatic brakes and accident avoidance are forms of automated driving that are quickly becoming standard safety features for most vehicles.
The Computer Car
Hand-in-hand with self-driving technology is the notion of the “computer” car. As our society becomes more inter-connected, so do our vehicles. Most new models feature an on-board computer that handles the signals we give to our dashboards and engines. What used to be all mechanical, is quickly becoming electronic. Features like blindside indicators, rear-view cameras, and parking assistance are all a result of incorporating computer features into vehicles. Companies are pushing even farther to bring complete entertainment suites and computerized features to their vehicles. For example Infiniti recently added Amazon’s Alexa to its onboard features. Owners can control the lights, horn, and locks all by asking Alexa to do so. Across the board car companies are attempting to create inter-connected cars that keep us in the loop of what is going on even when we are on the road.
Some of the most remarkable innovations and technologies have been focused on giving consumers more bang for their buck on mileage. Eco-drives are standard features in most new cars, that give drivers a few extra miles for a little less power. Mazda’s SkyActiv technology has proved to be enormously popular. It provides excellent gas mileage without substituting much in the way of performance. The second coming of the electric car is further proof of the affect technology has had on vehicles. Cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Tesla Model S, and Toyota Prius have proven that the electric car is no fluke. Their market share continues to grow and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon, with gas prices only poised to go up in the coming years.
Technology doesn’t seem like it is slowing down anytime soon. With every new innovation comes new opportunities for car manufacturers. It is only a matter of time until we see what we think of as “the future” on the road.