When it comes to innovation, there’s nowhere more creative than the automotive industry. For years, automotive companies have been redefining the driving experience and exceeding customer expectations. Today, consumers expect vehicles that provide quality, safety and longevity.
Thus far, manufacturers have done a great job at building the automotive experience into a more integrated ride. In recent years, the foundations of the inbound autonomous revolution have already been laid. Below we take a look at five unbelievable innovations automakers have treated us with within recent years.
Google Driverless Car
Many drivers don’t realise that driverless cars are already here, with companies like Google running test drives on near fully autonomous vehicles. Since December 2014, Google have been testing their vehicles on public roads to improve their standard of service. As the road time adds up, automakers will be able to identify areas for improvement that will define the driverless cars of the future.
The latest models have made use of headlights, steering and brakes to ensure a safer drive. In addition, in the past Google has deployed their own self-driving system, which can be fitted into other brands SUVs. These small steps are paving the way to the fully autonomous cars of the future.
The Electric Car (Tesla Model S)
When it comes to automotive innovation, it’s impossible to understate the importance of the creation of the electric car. Since Tesla established the Model S, automakers have been on a mission to mass-produce sustainable electric cars. Right now, the Model S ranges from $70,000 to $100,000 but Tesla are working towards creating more affordable vehicles.
The future of electric cars looks promising with major cities around the world developing legions of electric car charging points so that electric owners can recharge during their daily commutes. The electric car provides a solution to the fossil fuel crisis, and offers a sustainable alternative to our vehicle power source.
3D Surround View
Building on the basics established by rear-view cameras, surround view cameras provide the driver with a 360-degree representation of the area around their vehicle. Several cameras record footage around the car’s body, which is then combined in order to produce a 360-degree perspective. Manufacturers like BMW have made extensive use of this technology with models like the BMW 7 Series.
The 7 Series also allows the driver to use gesture control to manipulate the image via the use of a finger. Such technology is taking automakers in a direction that will make traditional wing mirrors obsolete. Drivers can now look at screens in order to get their bearings rather than craning their neck to look at a narrow mirror.
Fuel Cell Technology
No less promising than the advent of the electric car has been the introduction of fuel cell technology. Fuel cell technology had produced cars that run on hydrogen gas and avoid hazardous emissions. In fact, hydrogen cars only produce water vapor. Fuel cell technology has been around for a few years but it took until 2016 until Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell sedan took the alternative power source mainstream.
The car cost around $60,000, putting outside of the price range of many drivers but in future, it is more than likely that prices will decrease as fuel cell technology becomes mass produced. At present, fuel cell cars can only be driven in Southern California, as this is the only location where there are ample fuelling stations.
Finally, one of the most far-reaching innovations of automotive technology has been smart cars. Following the popularity of smartphones automakers were desperate to incorporate smart generation technology into their vehicles. In June 2014, Google launched Android Auto, which can be connected to car dashboards to provide access to information and entertainment.
The driver can access anything from music, to GPS’s, maps and other smart apps whilst on the go. Manufacturers like Audi, Bentley, Fiat, Ford and Volvo all offer services like Android auto in their cars. Google is not alone in endeavoring to bring smart automotive technology to the masses, and in the future, we can only expect to see more and more companies embrace interactive technology.
The Automotive Industry Remains in a State of Perpetual Revolution
If there’s anything to be learned from past automotive innovations it’s that the automotive industry is never static or stagnant. Manufacturers are always pushing the boundaries, and whereas 40 years ago our cars were intended to get us from A to B, their increasingly being called upon to entertain us as well. Right now, droves of consumers are using their cars as mobile entertainment centers and will continue to expect more connectivity in future.
As driverless cars and smart technology develop we’ll see more manufacturers emphasize onboard engagement functions. In short, the foundations placed by today’s driverless and electric cars will bring us into a new era of sustainability and hands-free driving. At this stage we can only sit and watch as we’re driven closer towards vehicular autonomy.