Due to technological advances in recent years and the global demand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the automotive industry is about to be revolutionised, as companies such as Tesla, Google, and Nissan attempt to pioneer the future of vehicles on the road, with other companies such as Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Ford attempting to pick up the baton. In the past few years alone, the automotive industry has changed profoundly and will continue to change as automotive capabilities are enhanced and efforts are made to promote the transition to greener fuels.
Although electric vehicles only constitute approximately 2 percent of all vehicles on the road, this figure will most likely increase exponentially in the following years. This is because of how environmental policies are being put on government agendas, in which regulations are being imposed to limit the emissions released by vehicles with combustion engines. However, because the price of electrical vehicles is decreasing, they may soon become the more economical option for many and start to dominate the market. As a result of this, combustion vehicles may soon become obsolete as more and more companies are introducing a range of purely electric vehicles. This expansion of the electric car market is being accompanied by the increase in the infrastructure to accommodate these, most notably charge points, which are becoming more common in many developed nations.
Another drastic change to the automotive industry is automation. In recent years, some companies have engineered self-driving concept cars, including Google, Uber, Mercedes, Tesla, Volvo, and several others. While these models are only prototypes and still require improvements, the growth in the number of automated vehicles is inevitable. These vehicles will most likely be equipped with user-interface systems that allow owners to control their vehicle, including its interior and how it functions, through their mobile device, voice, gestures, or possibly even through neural interface.
The major problem that has discouraged the development of automotive industries are the ethical issues that surround cars that the driver cannot control and if an algorithm will be able to prioritise the safety of the people in the car. However, these are being quickly addressed by companies intent on the popularisation of automated vehicles, in which some models allow the driver to regain control of the vehicle at their own will.
It is likely that with the rise of automotive technologies, cars that incorporate them will be transformed into leisure vehicles. Some automated concept cars have already exhibited compartments and interiors that can be converted into bedrooms, lounges, offices, and places of entertainment. In addition to this, users will probably be able to modulate the intensity of sunlight that enters the car through smart glass instead of sun visors. Wing mirrors and other components of traditional cars will also be substituted for thermal sensors that will be able to detect threats to the driver’s safety. Improvements made in the field of thermal sensors are already proving that they have the potential to be more efficient at preventing collision than even the most powerful headlights, in which they will be able to detect approaching objects at a greater range. Sensors integrated into automated vehicles may also be able to detect certain signs on the road that will provide the computer embedded in the car with specific instructions, such as to stop, to slow down, to speed up etc. Thus, it seems that automated vehicles will likely result in a sharp decline in the number of collisions or accidents on the road, whilst allowing better regulation and co-ordination of traffic in urban areas.
It is evident then that combustion engine vehicles will soon become a relic of the past, as the market will be dominated by automated vehicles using increasingly more powerful electric batteries or hydrogen engines that are able to power them without releasing emissions. Therefore, it is humanity’s own innovation and creation of new technologies that will shape the cultural and technological landscape, and ultimately the future of cars. It seems that it will not be long before electric vehicles are in the majority and computers have assumed the roles as drivers, in which this is only being accelerated by the evolution of the Internet that is causing the modern world to become more interconnected. Consequently, the way we drive is about to change forever.
29th of July 2020