Technologies That Are Transforming the Automotive Industry
January 28, 2021
Nearly every industry has evolved to some degree as a result of technological developments, but some have changed far more than others. In fact, technology has completely transformed certain industries.
For example, the rise in e-commerce led to the decline of countless brick-and-mortar retailers and drastically changed the retail industry. Technology also changed the hospitality industry by eliminating the need for the middleman—the travel agent—in making travel arrangements.
Now, technology is in the process of completely transforming the automotive industry. Here’s an overview of the technologies that are making the biggest impact on automotive companies:
Forward Collision Warning
The introduction of forward collision warning technology had a significant impact on the automotive industry. This technology, which is now built into many different vehicles, alerts drivers when they are in danger of colliding with another vehicle or object in front of them.
Some forward collision warning systems are designed to provide visual alerts to drivers when a collision is imminent. For example, some Acura vehicles will display a red “BRAKE” light when the forward collision warning system detects an object in the vehicle’s front path. Other systems, such as those found in certain Honda models, will alert drivers of danger with loud beeping sounds.
Some automotive manufacturers, including Ford, GMC, and Jeep, produce vehicles with both forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. These systems won’t just alert drivers of the threat of a forward collision—they will also help drivers avoid the collision by automatically applying the brakes. Even if the driver does not take action to avoid the collision, the vehicle will automatically slow down in order to avoid colliding with the object detected in its front path.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), forward collision warning technology has reduced rear-end accidents by 27%. Based on this data, it’s clear that this technology has made the roads safer for all drivers.
Virtual reality is not limited solely to the gaming industry—it’s been widely used throughout the automotive industry as well.
Automotive manufacturers have used virtual reality technology in a number of ways. Some automotive manufacturers, including Ford and Volvo, utilize virtual reality technology to offer virtual test drives to consumers. This allows consumers to experience what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle without seeing the car in person. This is beneficial to consumers who are interested in purchasing a vehicle online without ever stepping foot in a dealership.
Some automotive manufacturers, including Hyundai, use virtual reality technology during the safety testing process. Hyundai engineers perform countless safety tests on vehicles in a simulated environment created by virtual reality technology.
Since no vehicles are actually damaged during these virtual tests, this allows the engineers to perform as many demo tests as necessary without increasing overhead costs.
Volkswagen uses virtual reality technology to simplify the process of designing new vehicles. Design teams at Volkswagen no longer need to build clay prototypes of new Volkswagen models. Instead, they design virtual models.
All changes are made directly to the virtual model, so the team does not need to waste time or resources building a new clay prototype every time the design is modified. Using virtual reality in this manner has drastically reduced the amount of time that it takes to finalize a new design.
Another innovative technology that has had a major impact on the automotive industry is augmented reality.
Mercedes-Benz recently started using augmented reality technology to transform maintenance and repair services at dealerships. Technicians now have the opportunity to seek remote assistance on maintenance and repair issues by putting on a Microsoft HoloLens 2, which is an augmented reality headset.
The device will connect them to experts located around the world, who will be able to see exactly what the technician sees. These experts can then help the technician identify the issue and make the necessary repairs using augmented reality technology. For example, the experts may use augmented reality to display a digital arrow that points directly at the car part that is in need of repair.
A number of different automotive manufacturers use augmented reality technology to create virtual showrooms for consumers. This gives consumers the opportunity to explore the interior and exterior of vehicles from the comfort of their own home. They can even walk around the vehicle and look inside just like they would if they were standing in a showroom at a dealership.
The vast majority of car consumers do not purchase new vehicles in cash. According to Experian, roughly 85% of new passenger vehicles are financed with a loan or lease.
Financing has always been available to automotive consumers, but the introduction of virtual financing made it easier than ever before for consumers to finance the purchase of a new vehicle.
Online lending allows consumers to shop around for the best rates with the click of a mouse. There’s no need to spend hours on the phone or visit multiple lenders in person to get information. Instead, consumers can simply fill out a few online forms to get quotes from various lenders. There are also more lenders to choose from in the online marketplace, so consumers have more options than ever before.
It only takes a few minutes to get pre-qualified, so consumers can quickly determine their budget and move onto the next step in the process of buying a new vehicle.
By making financing easier for consumers, virtual lending technology has removed one obstacle that often stood in the way of buying a new vehicle.
Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist
Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist systems are now found in various models manufactured by Acura, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Honda, GMC, Ford, and other brands.
Both systems use forward-facing cameras to monitor the vehicle’s position within the lane lines. Lane departure warning systems will alert the driver when their vehicle is starting to drift outside of the lines. These systems may alert the driver using visual cues, such as flashing lights, or audible cues, such as beeping sounds. The driver can then use the steering wheel to correct the vehicle’s positioning.
Lane keeping assist systems will do more than simply alert the driver that they are drifting outside of the lane lines. These systems are also designed to correct the vehicle’s positioning by automatically applying the brakes or adjusting the steering wheel. The driver does not need to take action in order to stay within the lines if this system has been activated.
Both of these systems prevent collisions that occur when a vehicle accidentally drifts into another lane, which could be occupied by another vehicle. However, this does not mean that drivers won’t be able to change lanes in a vehicle designed with lane departure warning or lane keeping assist technology. These systems are only activated when the turning signal is off. In other words, if the driver uses their turning signal when changing lanes, neither system will turn on.
Blind Spot Warning
Blind spot warning is another type of technology that has completely transformed the automotive industry by improving vehicle safety.
Blind spot warning systems are supported by sensors, cameras, and radar technology. These technologies are used to detect vehicles, pedestrians, and objects that fall within the driver’s blind spots. These spots include the front of the vehicle, back of the vehicle, and along each side.
If a vehicle, pedestrian, or object is detected in a blind spot, the system will alert the driver by flashing a light or making a beeping noise. Most systems use visual alerts in the form of blinking lights on the vehicle’s side mirrors, which is directly in the driver’s line of sight if they are attempting to change lanes or merge.
Some systems are designed to always monitor these blind spots, whereas others will only activate if the driver has their turning signal on and is attempting to change lanes, merge, or turn. There are also vehicles designed with both blind spot warning and automatic emergency steering systems.
These systems will work together to detect vehicles or objects in the driver’s blind spot and automatically adjust the vehicle’s steering to prevent the driver from colliding with these vehicles or objects.
Rearview cameras are common in a wide variety of vehicles today. These cameras are designed to help drivers see the area behind their vehicle, which can help prevent drivers from getting into back over accidents and collisions with children, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Most rearview cameras will automatically activate once the driver shifts into the reverse gear. As soon as the car is in reverse, a live video feed from the rear-facing camera will appear on the vehicle’s center display screen or in the vehicle’s rear view mirror. This way, the driver can make sure that there is nothing in their way before proceeding to back up. The live video feed from this camera will automatically disappear from view once the car is no longer in reverse. In other words, this system only activates when it is needed.
Some rearview cameras also come with safety alert features. For example, the Toyota Rav4 rear view camera not only provides drivers with a view of the back of their vehicle, but also alerts the driver when they are about to back into another object or vehicle behind them. There are several vehicles that are designed with systems that will also automatically apply the brakes when the driver is about to back into another object or vehicle.
Many of the vehicles on the market today are fuel efficient, which means they require less fuel to operate than standard vehicles. Some of these vehicles are designed with stop/start fuel efficiency technology. A vehicle that is designed with this technology will automatically turn off when the vehicle is idle and restart once the vehicle starts to move again.
For example, the vehicle may turn off when the driver is stuck at a red light, but then turn back on when the driver is ready to move again. The vehicle does not use as much gas when it is turned off, so this technology leads to a significant increase in fuel efficiency.
Many fuel efficient vehicles are hybrid designs, which means they are powered by both an electric motor and gas. Sometimes the vehicle is solely powered by the electric motor, whereas other times it is solely powered by gas or a combination of gas and the electric motor. Because it is not completely reliant on gas, a hybrid vehicle is far more fuel efficient than a gas-powered vehicle.
These are some of the many fuel efficient technologies that are changing how vehicles are designed and operated in today’s automotive industry.
The experience of driving or riding in a vehicle as a passenger has significantly changed due to technology that connects vehicles to the internet.
Today’s vehicles are designed with “infotainment systems,” which are systems that provide information and entertainment to drivers and passengers. Through these systems, consumers can listen to the radio, connect to Bluetooth devices, look up driving directions, use various mobile apps, view traffic information, and more.
Having access to this information and entertainment at your fingertips enhances the entire experience for both drivers and passengers. It allows automotive consumers to avoid traffic, navigate to their final destination without getting lost, stay connected to friends and family on the road, and listen to their favorite music throughout the ride.
Thanks to this technology, there’s never a dull moment when driving or riding as a passenger in one of today’s vehicles.
Automotive manufacturers are beginning to use predictive technology to create a more personalized driving experience for consumers.
For example, predictive technology can be used to automatically adjust the seat and mirrors whenever a certain driver is behind the wheel.
This innovative technology can also help the driver predict when the vehicle will need maintenance or repairs. For instance, the technology will analyze various factors, including the mileage and condition of the vehicle, to predict when the vehicle will need an oil change.
It can even analyze the driver’s typical driving patterns, including speed and idle time, to calculate how many miles the vehicle can travel before needing more fuel.
When used in this manner, predictive technology takes all of the thinking and guesswork out of owning and maintaining a vehicle.There’s no doubt that the automotive industry is changing for the better as a result of innovative technologies. These technological developments have allowed automotive brands to manufacture vehicles that offer a more enjoyable, safer, and eco-conscious driving experience.