The more I look into cars these days the more important technology is becoming when differentiating cars from one and other. I am a lover of both technology and cars so this hybrid setup is something that really interests me. Can we even imagine what technology is going to be like in new cars in 5 years time, let alone the next generation of our family’s cars… if they even still call them cars!
Here are a few examples of technology that I have experienced that is really shaking up the car market.
Beautifully Designed Infotainment Systems
There are lots of versions out there, but the example below is the Volvo XC90 system that has an impressive glass feel and can sense gestures, just like a tablet computer. It appears that cars are cleaning up their dashboards and moving all of the switch-gear into these screens. I quite like the ideas, this way in 3 years time you can get a simple software update, that will change how your car looks and may even bring new functionality. You can’t do that with physical buttons and switches.
Powerful Electric Drivetrains
After having a few experiences in Tesla performance models, personally I have fallen in love with swapping engines for electric motors. Yes, you may miss the exhaust notes now and then but the instant torque from 0rpm speaks for itself. I drove the Tesla P85D last year and I swear I could feel the blood moving back up my legs testing standing starts in the car. And even since testing that car 6 months ago they have made it even faster with an over-the-air software upgrade, which is just “Ludicrous”.
Multiple Drive Modes
It wasn’t too long ago that you bought a car and it would just have one mode. But now lots of cars are coming out with multiple drive modes. Using the 2015 Honda Civic Type R as an example, you have a comfort mode for everyday driving and then an R+ mode when you really want to engage with the car. I love this stuff, it means that the car can adapt to how I feel as the driver and change its configuration to suit me.
LED Headlights – Super Bright Headlights
For some reason, I think I may be more sensitive to light than others. I find it important that cars have good quality headlights to light up the road at night. There are also lots of studies that have proved that better lit roads help reduce accidents. Now we are seeing even normal cars fitted with LED headlights which create a super bright blanket of white light on the road that can auto level and, depending on the system used, can bend around corners. Technology can make a big difference in the modern car and often we overlook simple details such as this.
Adaptive Cruise Control
It is hardly new, but certainly something that I recognise and is a great implementation of technology. Adaptive cruise control has taken away some of the pains of long-distance journeys and is now commonly found available on a selection of cars all over the market. Once again, I’m sure it is very complicated, but it makes motorway driving a lot safer, ensuring you keep the correct distance from the car in front and automatically manages the gap for you. Tesla will be of the first to take this to the next level with their Auto-pilot technology.
Life Saving Safety Features
Technology is being used in many ways to improve safety on the roads. Volvo have set a great president with technology such as blind spot awareness, collision warning alarms and full auto-braking. I think it is incredible that people can write lines of code that will genuinely save lives.
Self Healing Tyres
Technology doesn’t always have to be wires and sensors either, Pirelli have gone to the effort of creating tyres that have the ability to self-heal a puncture from a nail or similar object. We must not forget that all the above technology is great, but if we have no air in our tyres we won’t be able to get very far.
Night Vision – With Human Detection System
I test-drove the Rolls-Royce Wraith that was fitted with night vision, which does sound like a bit of a gimmick, but using the night vision the Wraith was also able to detect people. So if they were in the road before you, you could see them with your own eyes or if people were about to walk into the road the Wraith would alert you by the head-up display, which is very clever and I’m yet to see that on anything else.
Autonamous Driving Cars
You knew this was going to be in here somewhere and it’s not something that has been rolled out widely in the UK yet. Tesla and Volvo are the first people pioneering it. But today you can buy an XC90 that up to 30mph – if all the parameters are set – the car will drive itself. What a time to be alive. The Volvo is equipped for full autonomous driving and when it is allowed the car will just get a software update and it might soon be driving you to work whilst you relax.
High MPG Hybrids
There is not a single one of us that enjoys paying out weekly for expensive fuel costs, but now with more hybrid cars on the road, we don’t have to. We can charge our cars from our houses (or, even better, other people’s houses) and for most people we can comfortably do a commute to work and back without touching a drop of fuel. As time goes on the range will increase on these cars and charge times will come down.
Self Parking Cars
Parking is a pain for most drivers and is one of the activities we find most stressful. But for some time now cars have been able to take this responsibility away from us by parking themselves. I have tested this lots of times and it works really well, better than humans in a lot of cases.
Where are Cars and Technology Going?
Like it or not, technology is tied in with mechanics nowadays and it will keep increasing at an exponential rate. I see this as a good thing for the motoring world. The introduction of technology to motor cars has only improved things and will continue to make driving safer and more comfortable for us in the future.
For more details on the cars we have tested take a look at the features page.