Car manufacturers are consistently working to come up with new and innovative technology to improve the driving experience. Whether it’s eco-friendly pedals, cruise-control or parking assist, today’s drivers are already feeling the benefits of these developments. But what’s new in automotive technology and what can we expect from manufacturers in the next few years?
Autonomous technology has been a key focus in the automotive industry for several years now. Most manufacturers now offer self-driving technology as part of their latest models – with most used to improve road safety.
The Lane Keeping System
Also known as the lane departure warning system, this clever piece of tech is designed to improve driver safety by keeping you within your lane when driving on the motorway. When motorway driving, it’s vital that you stay firmly in your lane, unless you are overtaking. This system alerts you with a vibration on the steering wheel if your vehicle is unintentionally edging out of its lane – and in circumstances when the vehicle thinks you are reacting too slow, the vehicle will take control and provide steering torque to divert you back into the safe space on your lane. This is a safety feature to prevent drivers from veering out of their lane on motorways and dual carriageways where drivers around them are driving at high speeds.
BLIS – Blind Spot Information System
The BLIS alerts drivers when there is another vehicle in their blind spot – particularly useful when switching lanes. When a vehicle enters your blind spot zone, the BLIS system will alert you. The detection area is on both sides of your vehicle, extending rearward from the exterior mirrors to approximately 10 feet (3 meters) beyond the bumper. The system alerts you via a small light on your side wing mirrors – when there is a vehicle in your blind spot zone, the light will illuminate. When your blind spot zone is clear, the light will switch off.
Speed keeping system
This feature lets drivers know if they have exceeded the speed limit without noticing. By using GPS, the system is able to detect the vehicle location and reference this with a digital road map that is programmed with speed limit information for each road. The system can be used as an active speed limiter whereby it can take control of the vehicle and reduce the speed when travelling above the speed limit. It does this by reducing the throttle signal. Additionally, the system is also fitted with a speed limiting function that increases the pressure on the accelerator when you exceed the speed limit, so that it is harder to accelerate and break the speed limit.
Improving the driving experience
Weather Adaptation Technology
Intelligent weather technology has been designed to improve driver comfort. The system allows cars to autonomously adapt to weather changes and situations to make adjustments to drivetrain, suspension, traction control and climate control for optimum efficient driving.
Although this is a relatively new concept for the automotive industry, Jaguar Land Rover recently announced that their new vehicles will be equipped with these systems and we are already seeing its use in the Land Rover Discovery Sport Hse. The system is said to be able to connect to present and future weather data via telematics and GPS to sensibly adapt both inside the cabin and around the exterior. One feature suggests that the system will automatically close your vehicle windows if it senses that rain is forecast. Onboard rain- and terrain-sensing mechanisms will be used to control the temperature, pressure and humidity inside the cabin, whilst interior and exterior lighting will be altered depending on the circumstances.
By 2020, we can expect to see this technology rolled out on a mass scale, as it makes it’s debut alongside JLR’s all-electric models.
Environmentally friendly features
The eco-pedal is an innovative feature designed by Nissan – you can see its use already in the newest model of the Nissan Leaf. The electric automobile not only has double the mileage range of its previous model equivalents, but the one-pedal driving system allows for the accelerator pedal to be transformed into a multifunctioning e-pedal at a touch. The e-pedal functions as a start, stop, accelerate and breaking pedal when activated. Suitable for 90% of urban driving, the system means that the car will slow to a halt by itself with the ability to hold itself on an incline without the need of the brake pedal.
The newly designed pedal means that the newest model of the Leaf is even more environmentally friendly than other models in this range. Nicknamed the ECO-pedal system, the pedal controls the speed of acceleration to prevent revving up the engine. The level of fuel-efficient driving is displayed through a colour and flashing Eco-P lamp. According to Nissan, studies have proven that effective eco-driving with the ECO-pedal can contribute to an improved fuel efficiency by 5-10%.
Quick charging for EV’s
Electric vehicle manufacturers have been developing EV batteries which are said to be able to achieve a full charge in just half an hour. Researchers claim they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank – a solution to the biggest headache of electric vehicles. This would revolutionise the EV industry, as battery life and its charge has been the biggest challenge for the industry.
We can expect further progress in the EV industry within the next decade. According to the National Grid, peak demand for electricity could increase by 50%, if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles – which could be sooner than we think now that a new pan-European EV charging network has been announced too. IONITY, set up by the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and the VW Group with Audi and Porsche, launched the network early November 2017, and plans to work on 20 ultra-rapid charging points has already begun as they begin their EV charger installation plan to target for 400 points across Europe by 2020.