Automobiles are on the cusp of massive leaps in technology that at one time we could only dream about. As the population shifts in age and buying power, automakers must take this, as well as changing government oversight into consideration if they want to stay profitable. While vehicles will go under vast transformations internally, the cars of tomorrow might look similar to what we’re used to now. The main difference would be its innovative offerings.

Below, are five of the coolest new car technologies that are closer than you may think.

Self-Driving

It’s been a buzzword for more than a decade. However, with the drastic advancement of technology, autonomous cars are now well within sight. In fact, Google has been working on it for years with real-world applications in a few west coast cities. While many automakers are beginning to experiment with it, many still wonder how feasible the driverless car could be.

Self-driving vehicles may seem like a cool trend to follow, but many are looking towards technological advancements as being something to boost safety. As 94 – 96% of all U.S. automobile crashes are due to driver error; fatigue, distraction, or even intoxication, it’s anticipated AVs may be able to decrease the risk of an accident happening. Specifically, how the instrumentation installed in an automated vehicle could have the capability to process 320 trillion instructions per second (unfathomably faster than a human being can), to make driving safer.

When this sensory intelligence is combined with the oncoming wave of ‘vehicle communication’, it is expected that new technology will be able to address 95% of the reasons behind car crashes. With plans to allow AVs to learn as they drive on roads, they may be able to harness the power to inherently map where pedestrians, sidewalks, and hazards typically lurk. This innovation is something that the American people, and Congress, will not be able to ignore forever.

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Vehicle Communication

As mentioned above, the concept of ‘vehicle communication’ is quickly gaining traction in the industry. The basic concept is that software would be able to give cars the ability to ‘talk’ to each other through something called ‘V2V Communication’. This preventative action alone has the ability to address 79% of accidents.

Cars would now be able to warn each other about traffic conditions. An example would be when a car runs a red light at an intersection and preemptively warns the surrounding vehicles to take defensive action.

Similarly, ‘Vehicle to Infrastructure’, or V2I, would give cars the ability to communicate with traffic lights, road signs, and even traffic management systems to establish best routes.

Currently, Ford and chip maker Qualcomm have already begun production on ‘C2VX’ (vehicle to everything), a cellular-based technology. This will give Ford vehicles an enhanced picture of the road while accounting for street signs, markers, other cars and traffic information to essentially paint a nearly perfect picture.

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Source: Liz Slocum, Connected Car Security and the Future of Transportation

Augmented Reality

The concept of augmented reality in regards to vehicles is not farfetched. As it has already been present in vehicles since BMW’S heads up windshield displays, where speed and RPM’s are projected onto the windshield to keep the drivers focus on the road, it’s widely accepted and desired.

But what is different now is how technology and augmented reality can be used to enhance information and command. Specifically, how ‘overlays’ can be placed in a drivers line of sight to provide them with a form of ‘robot vision’. Allowing the vehicles GPS directions, highlighted roads or routes, or other driving information to be easily visible without the need to look at a screen.

As well, passengers may be able to enjoy smart windows that function as a touchscreen. These windows would allow passengers to click on real-life objects to find out their distance, information and even provide them with the ability to draw on top of the landscape. One example is how the Mercedes F 015 concept is expected to allow lower door panels to display the virtual world outside or function screens for media and entertainment.

Energy Storing Panels

The future of cars is undoubtedly electric as the market steadily distances itself from fossil fuels. The concept of ‘storing’ energy in cars has been in use since hybrids began implementing regenerative braking. But now the cars of the future are expected to be able to store energy in every usable part of the vehicle.

This is possible through body panels that will be equipped with battery cells to store solar and kinetic energy created by the movement of the car. Nanotechnology will provide the ability to wrap smart coatings on the cars as well. This will enable cars to get more power from the electric motor and avoid wasting power from the main batteries when it is at a stand-still.

Voice Command

Currently, you can talk to your car but what if you could talk to your car? Car manufacturers are now forming partnerships with companies like Amazon to integrate the Alexa platform into their vehicles. Ford, BMW, and VW have all partnered with Amazon to enable their cars infotainment systems to function just like your Amazon Echo does at home.

You will be able to play songs, control navigation and essentially walk through every part of your car’s screen that would normally require you to take your eyes off the road. With this technology, you could even speak to your smart devices at home before you arrive.

In comparison, Mercedes is implementing their own version called MBUX, where users will begin their commands with “Hey Mercedes” to gain the system’s attention. Mercedes claims that the system will have the ability to learn and preemptively suggest things based on your prior behaviour.

But even if your car doesn’t have Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are quickly ascending as standard features in new models. These features enable your car’s screen to closely mirror your phone’s screen and allow for easier, user-friendly operation of apps and functions. This change continues to prove itself as being successful since many car companies continue to discover that drivers prefer the sophistication and attractiveness offered by phone manufacturers.

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New Car Technologies: A Safer and Less-Boring Drive

With these automotive innovations just around the corner, road trips will certainly be a completely different experience. Not only will the driving experience change, but accidents and fatalities linked to road accidents will dwindle closer and closer to zero.

New car technologies will undoubtedly need to earn public trust prior to being adopted. However, the inevitable benefits should quickly outweigh the fear of change.

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Interested in investing in emerging technologies and automotive innovations, you may want to consider the Evolve Innovation Index Fund (EDGE) and the Evolve Automobile Innovation Index Fund (CARS).

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