Technology has changed how humans function in every facet of their lives — and cars aren’t excluded. From the first modern car invented by Karl Benz in 1886 to the 2014 models scattered throughout roads across the world, humans have driven their way to amazing innovations in the automotive industry. This isn’t likely to end any time soon, as people push the limits and find new ways to make vehicles safer and more comfortable for passengers.
With that said, here are six technological trends that are changing how humans drive.
The Introduction of Google’s Android
Google teamed up with General Motors, Audi, Hyundai, Honda, and Nvidia to create the Open Automotive Alliance, which is a partnership that hopes to start installing the Android platform in cars in 2014. Essentially, Google’s vision includes a world where its operating system is optimized for driving, offering drivers apps and music through an interactive dashboard in the car.
With this technology implemented in cars, drivers will be able to sync their music playlists across different devices including their tablet, computer, and car. Additionally, driving-based apps like weather and traffic reports could be delivered in real time to motorists. Not only that, but being that Android is an open-source platform, it’ll be easier and cheaper for car manufacturers and software developers to include apps into the vehicle.
The Self-Driving Car
OK, so you’ve probably heard about this pie-in-the-sky idea for years, but the wide-spread use of the self-driving car is closer to becoming a reality than you might think. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, companies showcased their concept cards and prototypes that have partial autonomous driving capability. For example, Audi’s A7 “piloted” itself on to the stage during its showcase.
Another automotive company, Navia, introduced an all-electric vehicle that can hold up to 10 people standing that drives itself. The shuttle is already in use in Switzerland and the U.K.; it’ll be commercially available in the U.S. this year. BMW also dipped its hand in autonomous concept technology by unveiling a feature that would provide “highly automated driving” in unfortunate emergency situations.
The Pandora Revolution
It’s predicted that in about five years, almost 25 percent of cars will connect to the Internet. And this means major changes in how cars are manufactured and what sort of entertainment options they offer. Since a keyboard and a mouse aren’t exactly conducive to promoting safe driving, consumers can expect more cars to include voice-recognition software and specialized apps that allow passengers to listen to music via Pandora and stay in touch via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Wi-Fi’s potential is only limited by the developers, in this scenario.
The Airbag That Helps Stop Cars
There are all kinds of airbags in cars today: knee airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags, seat belts airbags, and even airbags that deploy underneath the seat. Perhaps not everyone has them in their cars, but most do. Mercedes is taking it a step further and working on a new airbag that it’ll implement in its cars and luxury SUVs, making it a part of an active safety system.
The airbags Mercedes is experimenting with will deploy from underneath the vehicle and help stop it before a crash. This is all a part of a safety system that’ll deploy airbags once a sensor determine that an impact is unavoidable.
The Future of Energy-Storing Body Panels
Exxon Mobil predicts that half of all new cars being produced by 2040 will be hybrids. Although this is great news for the environment, the batteries in these vehicles take up a lot of space and are extremely heavy. Nine manufacturers in Europe are at work to introduce body panels that can replace these batteries. This Forbes Magazine article dives more in detail concerning this new technology that could change how we fuel out cars.
There’s no telling what human ingenuity and technology can produce in the future. One thing is for sure, though — humans won’t be driving the same cars they are today. What technology would you like to see your car have?