It is difficult to predict the future. However, looking at the recent developments and trends in the auto industry, we can foresee what is set to happen in the coming years. In fact, the cars of the not-so-far future, are already being developed today. Automakers have been working hard testing technology that will appear in the tomorrow’s car, and we are already seeing results. About 10 years ago, features like a navigation system, Bluetooth, and parking sensors could only be seen in luxury vehicles. Now, even the cheapest car has these options.
As has been seen by many, these three properties – autonomy, electrification, and cars as a service, are the key trends driving the automotive world today into the future. In reality, the picture is not closely that simple, however it is very clear that technology-driven initiatives are been taken into serious consideration by carmakers.
As the digital frontier gets ready to take over the industry, the car of the future will definitely offer a lot more features. Wireless technology and the great benefit it brings is becoming an ever-increasing and indispensable part of the society. Services like Digital Radio, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, are now quite common in almost all vehicles. For instance, Bluetooth is quite prevalent in most basic entry level cars. DAB and DVB-T are options in most mid-range cars. On the other hand, the next wave of models to be developed by high-end manufacturers will carry technologies such as: Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), 5G, and Wi-Fi connections. In the coming few years we should have the much awaited “connected car”.
It is known that modern luxury vehicles have over 20 integrated antennas that cover a host of both analogue and digital links. This number is set to rise with the increase in ‘diversity’ and ‘multiple reception’ systems. This rapid increase in the amount of wireless technology in vehicles will allow a large number of new services to be realized quite fast. However, manufacturers ought to come up with robust techniques to account for increased levels of software upgrades needed.
In the coming few years, we can expect even more technological features on our cars. A company like General Motors has been enjoying success with its OnStar technology, which has been offering in-car connectivity for all kinds of services. This technology can now turn autos like Chevrolet Camaro into a 4G LTE hotspot. Additionally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its cars access the internet through Uconnect for all their connectivity demands.
Connectivity is an important topic when talking about digital trends in cars. Individuals without factory installed systems on their car can get third party services such as Vinli’s OBDII port accessory or Verizon’s Hum. Add this to Android Auto and Apple Carplay, and you will realize that the applications you rely on from your smartphone will be accessible every time you get behind the wheel.
In some few years to come, it is quite evident that autonomous driving will be a major part of our automotive existence. We have already seen cars like Audi’s RS7 demonstrating autonomous driving. However, as things stand right now, this projects seems like for the further future. What is in for the near future? Many autonomous features have crept into our lives already, being referred to as driver-assist features. Some of these include: adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and self-braking systems.
If we already have cars that can stop, steer, and accelerate automatically, why can’t we make these functions to work together? This is a question that hasn’t escaped a lot of automakers who are working on ways to achieve just that. An example is Tesla’s autopilot system that uses all these functions to operate semi-independently. Although this makes driving easier, drivers still need to pay attention while driving.
Problems That Come With Digitization in the Automotive Industry
As the push for technological advancements in our vehicles continue, there are a few issues that need to be addressed to make the whole digitization a success. Major enhancements need to be undertaken in automotive security. This has to be done for both software-driven advances and architectural changes. The potential of any life-threatening issue taking place in case an autonomous or standard car gets hacked should make this point painfully obvious.
Additionally, connectivity options, reliability, and speed have to be improved immensely. This is where industry-wide methods such as 5G and products from vendors like Intel and Qualcomm could make a difference. Lastly, car manufacturers should figure out the kinds of services customers want and whether they would be willing to pay for them. Like other kinds of hardware devices, profit margins on cars are not usually very large. With the increasing amount of technology cars are going to need to make, profit margins could even shrink. Therefore, car companies ought to think about new ways of generating income.
We expect that the future car will be able to drive itself efficiently, will have better connectivity, it will be able to “communicate” with surrounding cars, and will be highly secured to protect its users and also their data. The good news is that technological startups like Harman are working effortlessly to build cloud-based platform delivery systems for car auto services, expected to bring these capabilities to life over the next few years.
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