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The wheels of the future

Posted on 04 March 2016

There was a time when buying a new model of car meant accessing a bigger engine; admiring a more curvaceous chassis; or simply enjoying the novelty of your relocated sunglasses holder. 

In the technological age that we live in, buying a new car has become much more of an adventure. So when we look to tomorrow and imagine what car we’ll be driving in 10 or 15 years, we need to think beyond a change of model. Imagine instead a change in lifestyle. We take a look at some technological advances that have the potential to change driving, forever.

Self-driving car
Let’s start with the big one. The media loves to talk about the driverless car, and with good reason. Predictions are now out that we will be dealing with an autonomous car within five years, and a fully self-driving car within the next 10. What’s the difference? For autonomous car think cruise control - i.e. in certain circumstances, when the weather is right, and on certain roads; your car will be able to drive itself.

And fully self-driving cars? Google is already a long way down the track. Self-driving cars have been tested on over 320,000 kms of public highways and roads in California and Nevada. Cars will use lasers, radars and cameras to process information about their surroundings and react rapidly to their changing environment. The introduction of the self-driving car will most definitely change driving forever: because we will all become passengers.

V2V and V2I
Before the driverless car, we can expect to see vehicles that interact with their surroundings in order to provide us with a safer drive.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication (V2V) will allow vehicles to wirelessly communicate with each other and pass information about their location, speed and direction. The focus will be on maintaining a safe distance from every vehicle in the vicinity, and may include the ability to take corrective action in case of danger.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure communication (V2I) will allow vehicles to communicate with objects like traffic signals, railway crossings etc. Again the focus is on avoiding collision, but there is also hope that V2I will share information about traffic safety issues and give access to the best routes.

V2V and V2I combined have the potential to dramatically reduce target vehicle crashes. In America a 2010 NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) analysis concluded that a combination of V2V and V2I could reduce target vehicle crashes by 81%.[http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/07/fordv2v-20110719.html]

Enhanced security features
Changing the security features of cars involves a raft of smart technologies that react to theft issues and reflect changing lifestyles, such as an increase in carpooling and car shares.

Access to cars is either going to become more personalised. When introduced, Biometric Vehicle Access will probably use the same technology that you find in your smart phone to give you fingerprint or retina scanned access to your car and engine activation.

Or alternatively companies like Volvo are doing away with the key/scanning and switching instead to an app that can be shared on a smart phone. This app makes sharing your car more accessible, whilst recognising your proximity to the vehicle and allowing you to unlock and switch on remotely. It recognises, and attempts to predict, the future of car sharing and the pooling of car users who require options for access that remains secure.

And in the realm of security, all vehicle owners will welcome the continued advances in the realm of Remote Vehicle Shutdown. Currently active with specific car models, Remote Vehicle Shutdown allows the owner to request a full shutdown of the vehicle if it is stolen or lost. This has the potential to dramatically reduce car crime for any car with this technology.

Augmented Reality Windscreen
If you’re a fan of Terminator - or in fact most Science Fiction - then you’re bound to be looking forward to the Augmented Reality Windscreen. This display system will overlay information over what the driver is actually seeing, in order to make it easier to drive and navigate safely. Useful information will include things like distance to vehicles; speed other vehicles are travelling at; safe stopping distances etc. An Augmented Windscreen could even propose a maneuver to allow a driver to avoid a crash if a collision was inevitable.

Passengers will also be excited to hear that Augmented displays are coming to their seats too. Toyota is currently developing a system for passengers that will allow them to interact with the landscape they see through the window. They could be able to zoom in and out, select and identify, and find out the distance landmarks are from the car.

Care and protection
Taking care of the occupants of a car remains a key focus in the development of new technology. This is never more apparent than with the research into Active Health Monitoring. Active Health Monitoring allows a car to track the health of its passengers through sensors built into the seat and/or seatbelt. Run on a similar concept to mobile fitness monitoring equipment, Active Health Monitoring would trigger the car to react swiftly in the unfortunate event that a passenger or driver suffered a serious illness such as heart attack or stroke.

And if it feels like car companies want to wrap their owners up in cotton wool, then you wouldn’t be far wrong. Latest air bag technology continues to work its way around the car, offering the most comprehensive protection possible to any occupants.

Further research is being done into applying air bags to the whole car. Airbags that can stop cars are currently being developed by Mercedes and once finalised will offer a raft of benefits. The air bags that are in development would be part of the overall active safety system and would deploy when sensors indicated a crash was inevitable. The bags have a friction coating so are designed to slow the car down faster. They also come with the added benefit that they raise the car up and change the angle of impact to improve bumper to bumper contact and reduce the chance of passengers sliding under seatbelts. Definitely a piece of technology to look forward to.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and as it does so, the car ownership landscape is changing too. Manufacturers are putting more and more emphasis on removing human error and putting the car in control of the driving experience. From Self Driving Cars to Active Health Monitoring and cars that communicate with each other. You can expect that buying a car in the future will be a very different experience. And you have to wonder whether or not you will actually get to drive it, or whether it will drive you.

If you’re considering buying a car in the near future we’d be happy to help. Our team are experts in building a car loan package that will focus on both what you need to borrow and on what you can afford to pay. Why not contact us today or try using our online calculator to find out how the numbers add up?