“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Recent Technological Advances in the Automotive Industry

What’s new in automotive technology? Here are a few things that I came across while I was browsing the Net yesterday.

A system that alerts your doctor when you get a heart attack or if you figured in an accident. A technology that calculates the time needed for you to reach your destination, and one that gives you a simpler and quicker route. And a device that communicates with other people’s car if they are veering dangerously to your own vehicle. That’s wireless technology at its best. These are just some of the new technologies that car engineers are working on at present. Some of these may sound surreal, but they are within reach, experts say. There are, however, a few obstacles along the way.

In an article,
A Wireless Wonderland, featured in the Telegraph, Britain’s No. 1 quality newspaper website, the pros and cons of these technologies are put in detail.

Beat the jams, avoid prangs

The vision: Cars will communicate wirelessly with other vehicles to warn them when they are about to break sharply, reducing accidents. Cars will also boast intelligent sat-nav systems, wirelessly connected to a transport hub relaying real-time road and rail info, capable of planning the fastest route by road and of informing you when it would be faster to take another mode of transport. Tickets will be automatically booked at the touch of a button, and paid for using a pre?pay card.

The reality: This kind of in-car technology is already well advanced: parking sensors alert drivers to hazards, while auto-braking on some vehicles will bring the car to an emergency stop. Combining this technology with that which powers self-driving cars is the next logical step. Sat-nav systems are already able to access real-time traffic updates; improving this to make it link into a central database would be easy enough - the difficulty comes in developing a software platform used across the whole transport network that will allow operators to share information in a consistent, usable format.

Mayday alerts and enhanced medical care

The vision: Cars of the future will contain a "black box" style communications hub that will be able to alert the emergency services if you have a crash or pass out at the wheel. If the person involved in the crash has their medical details embedded on their person, paramedics will be able to access them and decide on the most effective course of treatment.

The reality: Crash-response technology already exists and is an extra on many high-end vehicles. Enhancing this technology to alert the emergency services in the event of any accident will be relatively straightforward. And software already allows people to store their medical records on their mobile phones. However, finding a way to securely and confidentially embed them in wearable technology will be the main challenge.

These technologies could prove to be very beneficial once they hit production lines. The emergence of so-called “Smart” cars will be in the offing once these are perfected. Maybe in a few years time your car will be able to tell you where you are likely to get jammed in traffic, or maybe even where you can fill up your tank if it’s already almost running empty. Some even went so far as to say that your car can even order for you at the rest stop that’s in close proximity to your vehicle. Safety and convenience will be increased because of the existence of wireless technology. We did not believe them when they said they can invent cars that run on electricity, and even water. And now the streets are replete with them. So when they say Smart cars will be the new thing, I am in no position to argue any longer.