Since the invention of the motor car, the automotive industry has continued to deliver on cutting edge technology for safety, entertainment, practicality and driving performance. This coming decade is guaranteed not to disappoint with manufactures striving to have the most innovative and quality inventions. The following 5 amazing car technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and are some of the most interesting concepts currently in development.

1. Wi-Fi Direct Integration

Research is currently underway in the United States and Japan looking at the potential for Wi-Fi connections to provide advanced feedback to vehicles about other road users including pedestrians and bikes, obstacles, and hazards. A system called Wi-Fi direct is set to become a standard component of current driver-assistance technologies and provides communication between smartphones and other surrounding enabled systems. Wi-Fi direct is currently in existence and works similar to Bluetooth in that it provides direct routing between devices however is faster, more compatible with a range of devices and has a wider signal strength. As compared with traditional Wi-Fi connections, it does not send signals through cellular networks which reduces the connection time between devices from seven to eight seconds down to one. Wi-Fi direct in cars would allow vehicle to vehicle communication, vehicle to infrastructure communication and pedestrian detection. Vehicle to vehicle monitoring would provide the driver with information about other cars on the road including their speed, dangerous driving behaviours, traffic and breakdowns. Vehicle to infrastructure details may include buildings, road signs, road works, slippery roads and intersections. This information could then be interpreted by on-board systems to avoid collisions, provide drivers with alternative routes and real time travel directions. Perhaps of most interest is the pedestrian detection system which allows the car to communicate with smartphones carried by pedestrians and cyclists and alert the driver of their location on the road. The smartphone would need to have installed and enabled a Wi-Fi direct app however it is hoped that this technology will significantly reduce the high number of car accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

The Wi-Fi direct technology also has the potential to enhance in-car entertainment performance allowing for greater volumes of data transfer and quicker synchronisation with personal devices.

Keyboard showing time saving

Into the future we go

2. Regenerative braking

Regenerative braking has been on the market for some time with the uptake of this technology primarily in hybrid and electric vehicles. However with advances in car technology, this method of storing lost energy from braking and returning it to the engine, is now becoming available for standard fuel engines as well. Regenerative braking works on the principle that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The system captures the vehicles kinetic and heat energy created when decelerating that would otherwise be lost and transforms this into usable electrical energy. For hybrid and electrical cars this energy is returned to the battery and used to improve the efficiency of the engine. The difficulty with standard fuel powered cars is that the battery used is not compatible with the frequent top ups of electricity that would be delivered from regenerative braking.

To overcome this issue, auto makers are coming up with alternative options to make use of this energy source. Some companies are using dual battery options which utilize the traditional car battery and a lithium-ion addition that converts the energy from regenerative braking to a 12 volt supply. Other manufacturers make use of specialised variable-voltage alternator and capacitor to generate and store energy from the rotation of the tires. A converter then takes this stored energy and delivers a 12-volt charge to the traditional battery. This energy can then be used to power on-board electronics such as headlights, climate control, and power windows. Use of this energy then reduces the demands on the fuel engine and increases fuel efficiency. In fact, regenerative braking is estimated to improve fuel efficiency by up to 10% which can lead to big savings at the petrol station.

3. Braking Airbags

The addition of airbags to modern cars have significantly improved passenger safety in the event of a collision. As airbags are only deployed in the event of an emergency, they are considered to be passive safety measures in that they cannot prevent an accident from occurring. However developments in the area may see under vehicle airbags become an active part of vehicle safety systems and assist to stop a car before a crash. Using existing in-car safety systems and sensory detectors, the braking bag system would deploy if a collision was inevitable. Friction coated airbags would be deployed from under the front wheels and reduce the stopping distance by up to half. Added benefits would be that the air bags would boost the car height by up to eight centimetres which prevents passengers from slipping down into their seatbelts and reduces the impact of the crash by better positioning the vehicle for contact. This would be an excellent addition to the already present ABS Systems in most modern vehicles today.

4. Augmented Reality Display

A new era of driving experience is dawning with the development of augmented reality display technology. This technology fully immerses the driver in the surrounding environment by enhancing
what is seen, felt, and heard. In-car windshield displays augment real time driving with graphical, audio and other sensory enhancements in real time. For example, drivers could be advised of manoeuvres to avoid a collision with another car through projected displays. GPS systems could direct drivers with highlighted lane changes or projected instructions without the driver having to take their eyes off the road. Other applications include adding driving instructions for learner drivers or creating videogame like scenarios with ghost race cars challenging the driver to compete. The list of possibilities is endless however it begs the question of how these technologies would influence driver distraction and road safety.

5. Self-driving cars

Once thought to be impossible, the self-driving car is soon to be reality with the UK legalising introduction of these vehicles in 2015. The self-driving car uses lasers, radars, sensory detectors and cameras to monitor, analyse and process the environment in order to make driving decisions. They have been programmed to make judgements in real-time based on what is detected around them and are set to dramatically increase safety of other road users and pedestrians by responding quicker to hazards than a human can. It also prevents the user error associated with driver distraction and would greatly reduce crashes. Self-driving cars also have the potential to reduce congestion as due to the advanced sensor detection systems, they are able to drive extremely close to one another and act as one unit. This driving function is known as platooning and makes use of the advanced communication and reaction systems between vehicles. Other potential benefits include reduced parking needs, reduced CO2 emissions and an option for the elderly, kids or other people with disability who are not able to drive.

The future is upon us and within the next few years we will start to see these technologies roll off the production line. Keeping up with the fast pace of technology has always been a priority at 360 Finance and that is why it is so quick and easy for you to apply for car finance on your phone, tablet or PC. As with all new inventions, it is hoped that the aforementioned technologies will serve to improve safety, reduce environmental impact and enhance driver experiences. We can definitely expect exciting times ahead.