Remember the year 2001? Doesn’t seem like that long ago, right? It was the beginning of a new year, new century, and the new millennia.
Now if you can, try to remember the car you were driving at that time (if you still have the same vehicle, great job!). If you have a different car, chances are it’s a lot different than the one you were driving back then; and if you’re searching for a newer vehicle now, chances are your new one will be far more advanced than your previous one.
The car industry is always embracing emerging technologies; this affects the way cars are built, operated on, and maintained and repaired. Each year new methods are used to make cars safer, easier to fix and most importantly, more efficient. If we were to compare a newer car to an older one, we’d see the distinction. Everything is different and better.
Think of it this way; 10 years ago car manufacturers were trying to put as many cup holders as they can in the cabin, but today it’s all hands-free mobile communication, Wi-Fi technology, and fuel economy. Read on to find out what are some of the most important technological advances that has changed the way we operate motor vehicles today.
Visual Images (Camera Technology)
Although most of us know how to operate a camera, it wasn’t until a few years ago the camera was introduced to the automotive world. In today’s world, digital technology and cameras are far more advanced and much more powerful than their predecessors.
What does this mean?
This means that cameras can be easily installed in different parts of your vehicle, including the wing mirrors, dashboards, lights, doors and other areas of the vehicle. These cameras and other digital devices let motorist view all objects surrounding their car from one screen.
Without added technology, large SUVs would have worst visibility, while smaller vehicles would have the best visibility. In general, the larger the vehicle, the harder it is to see your surroundings.
Sensor technology has come a long way in the last decade, and is now incorporated into manufacturing, robotics, ground penetrating radar, and also in the production of airplanes and automobiles. This, however, has changed and sensors have become an important feature for cars. Sensor technology combined with the latest camera technology makes it easier for drivers to park, turn, and reverse safely. Throughout the years, the automotive industry has adopted to two main types of sensor technology. The first is often referred as a radar sensor, an electronic device used to detect moving or stationary targets that may include cars, trains, trucks, and cargo in extreme weather conditions. The other type of sensor commonly used in the car industry is referred to as, ultrasonic sensor. This type of sensor measures, and converts ultrasound waves into electrical signals or vice versa.
Despite these two sensors being present in just about every new car, the most commonly known sensor is the parking sensor. Other sensors included in many of today’s cars include speedometers, manifold absolute pressure sensors, throttle position sensors, knock sensors and oxygen sensors.
Vehicles Are Now More Dependent on Computers
Whether you know it or not, almost every modern car have some sort of on-board computer system under the hood, controlling its functions. Each year these computers get more advanced and provide more complex features that were nonexistent before. As of now, the latest on-board computer monitors cruise control, monitor emissions, engine temperature, and GPS systems. In order for vehicles to operate a GPS system about 15-20 years ago, it required an antenna, a computer in the trunk, and data cassettes with software and maps.
Now, of course, phones have taken over the job of copilot and soon, they’ll replace car keys as well. This huge way changed the way cars were built and controlled, and also changed the way they were maintained and repaired.
From being more mechanical to surprisingly intellectual is what defines cars now-a-days. Like a new smartphone, your car may soon get regular updates to fix problems, improving performance and adding new features. Cars that receive updates not only shrink the gaps between cars and dealers, but stands on the front line to ensure safety for everyone on the road. Vehicle software updates also improve driving by reducing driver’s distraction while operating their motor vehicle.
By 2022, it’s expected that more than 200 million vehicles around the world will be able to get over-air-software updated according to ABI Research. This means nearly one-third of the defects that lead to recalls might be fixed with an over-air-software update, resolving problems without an inconvenient trip to the dealership and saving the automakers billions of dollars.
Despite what automakers say about their vehicles, only cars from some leading manufacturers like Ford, Tesla, and Toyota are actually simplifying the customers’ needs and grabbing newness through innovative software.
Tesla motors in particular, one of the world’s most popular car brands, are producing electric cars committed to offering a software updates for its acclaimed Model S in 2015. In its first set of updates, the software was able to analyze road conditions and drivers’ route using personal data through valet mode.
Ford, on the other hand, another popular American brand, is set to offer software updates for its latest infotainment system, Sync 3 to all its new 2015 model vehicles, after partnering with software market giant Microsoft to keep its new system updated. Sync 3 has been reported to be so sensitive, that it can determine when headers, mufflers, and exhaust pipes are showing signs of failure, which allows it to report this information to both the driver and the manufacturing company.
Throughout the evolution of cars, manufacturing companies have started making our lives a little safer with keyless remote, anti-thefts systems, and alarms. In the beginning of the millennium, for example, a car had only two airbags. One on the driver side, and the one on the passenger side. In today’s world, however, vehicles are now equipped with a minimum of four airbags and some models even have up to ten airbags. Even the airbags have improved over the course of the years; determining the weight of the passenger and adjusting the inflation forces.
Thanks for the read. Did I miss anything important? What are some other ways technology has changed the automotive industry? Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Davis is a writer who loves being active. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him watching sports or reading up on new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!