(Guest Post) The 6 Most Exciting Innovations in Automotive Technology

Are our cars about to outsmart us?

What do supercars have in common with explosive technological progress? They both move really, really fast.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

Cars have long had the ability to communicate with the internet. In fact, many of the Tesla models on the road received their driverless capabilities via a software update. However, cars will soon be able to talk to one another, just like computers and cell phones do. This technology, though exciting, is nothing new. Whenever you connect your phone to WiFi at home or at work, your phone is communicating via wireless signals with a router in the area.

Cars in the coming years will have similar communications. Imagine your car signaling to the guy on the phone next to you that he is moving outside his lane. Cadillac is already testing a similar system this year. The latest CTS sedans will be able to exchange information about weather, accidents and more. This type of communication, known as vehicle-to-vehicle, may soon become standard jargon in the automotive world.

It’s Electric!

Electric is old news, right? Not at all! Elon Musk may have made the electric vehicle all the rage, but it’s manufacturers like Chevy and Honda which have made them truly practical. The Chevy Volt offers an impressive 238-mile EPA-rated range that, when paired with tax incentives, is a tempting offer to many consumers.

Affordability is not the only metric we should look at when it comes to electric. Almost every manufacturer is working on increasing the range of their electric and hybrid models. We will have to wait and see if Tesla’s Model 3 will shake the game up again. At present, we’re far from achieving fully electric roadways, but we can expect massive strides in the coming years.

Autonomous Vehicles

While there are still plenty of hurdles faced by the likes of Google and other companies working on autonomous vehicles, you can be sure that these vehicles are just around the corner. And we’re not just talking about cars, either. An autonomous shuttle bus was recently taken for a test drive in Las Vegas. Companies like Uber have also begun experimenting with self-driving vehicles. What will this mean for drivers of the future? With the efficiency and sophistication of self-driving cars, licenses may very well become optional.

Virtual Assistants

Voice interaction has become extremely popular in recent years. Tools like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Voice have really pushed the game forward. However, similar software implementations in cars have been buggy at best. With more than 20 percent of Google queries being performed via voice, the importance of voice commands cannot be stressed enough. Manufacturers have definitely taken notice, with brands like Ford and Volvo already showing off Alexa integration.

Such integrations could mean drastic changes to the layout of the interiors of the future. Why waste resources and space on archaic buttons when you can simply tell your car to turn on the AC?

In-Car Apps

Imagine purchasing gas at the pump without ever having to leave the comfort of your car. Or, how about not having to dig through your back seat for change to pay at a toll booth? This is exactly what Ford, Honda, and Toyota recently demonstrated. Soon, you will be able to download an app for your car (and a matching one for your phone) for almost anything. Honda showed off the ability to store credit card information in their HondaLink app for use at gas stations. Who are we kidding, though…everyone will just use it to download Facebook and Angry Birds.

Biometrics

Wouldn’t it be great if cars could tell when you were getting too drowsy and warn you, or better yet, take over the drive? Biometric scanners have been around for over a decade, and have only recently been popularized through fingerprint scanners on smartphones like the iPhone and Galaxy. The possibility with biometric readers is limitless. You could unlock your car or even start it with a quick fingerprint scan. Your car could even utilize facial recognition to unlock and turn on your car for you when it sees you approaching.

While there will definitely be security and privacy issues around biometric readers, their potential to make our lives easier will mean that auto makers will invest in their integration in the coming years.

Some really exciting technology is going to be hitting the automotive industry in the next few years. While there will be challenges with many of these technologies (getting your car hacked probably won’t be much fun), they probably won’t be too different from the ones we face today. Cars have been slow on the uptake with the latest technology trends, so it’s an exciting time to be an automotive geek!

About the Author: Harrison Cojak works at Malone’s Service and Performance. He is an avid car and tech enthusiast who loves exploring how the two are evolving side-by-side. When he’s not trying to hack into the electronics of his car, he enjoys hanging around on various auto forums.

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