Just because driverless cars are probably going to be the next big thing doesn’t mean the auto manufacturers are going to lie down and not innovate for next year’s models. Some of these innovations are already in the latest models, while others are being fine-tuned. But these and many other technologies are going to make their way into the car of the future soon.
The various sensors, camera systems and algorithms that allow a driverless car to navigate successfully are the heart of that system. While these systems are getting better every year, the confidence we have in them to get us around completely autonomously isn’t quite there. But the individual systems like the collision sensors are making their way into more affordable vehicles.
Cars like the 2017 Hyundai Elantra, which starts at about $17,000, have features like smart cruise control to keep a safe distance between your car and the car ahead while still benefiting from the gas savings cruise control can offer. These sensors also allow your car to sense if you are drifting out of your lane and alert you, and they have blind spot detection. Even something as simple as a system that detects if there is damage to your car while you aren’t in it is coming to the newest generation of vehicles.
Being able to make phone calls or have access to the other apps on your phone has become smoother, and today the integration is nearly seamless. Manufacturers have begun putting screens in cars that are similar to what you would see on a phone or tablet. Combined with apps like Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay this means there is no longer any need to look down at your phone if you’re in the driver’s seat, since everything can be done through voice commands.
It’s unthinkable to have a new car without Bluetooth or USB ports through which you can interface with your phone. Some are even starting to come with mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Also, companies are creating products that enable you to mount your phone to your car to make it easier to use your phone. All this means that no matter where you are, you’ll be able to pull up maps with traffic data, set reminders, make lists or buy tickets to an event. These sorts of reminders are also synced with your phone, so even when you leave your vehicle, all that information stays with you.
With all of the connections that can be made through a modern car, it is imperative that you are able to not only take in that information but do so in a safe manner. Much of the technology that has to do with connection seeks to make sure that the driver’s eyes are never taken off the road, with screens being placed where the instrument panel would go or on the entertainment dashboard.
The next step is going to be projecting some of the most relevant information onto the windshield as a piece of augmented reality. The advantage of AR is that the information is overlaid against the real world to give you more information. This is going to be especially useful for navigation since you would be able to follow a “yellow brick road,” which would follow the contours of your route.