While many say that the automotive world is undergoing a significant transformation this century, the three biggest trends may not be as clear-cut as people imagine. Cars operating on batteries have been around for years while autonomous driving is new but being developed. Integration is also significant, as it connects the vehicle to other sources of information using the digital medium.
Cars are Mobile Computers
It’s funny to think of your car as a computer, but it is, in a sense. They’ve got a lot of computing power and have since the 1990s. Computers control mixtures of air and fuel in the engine, the emissions system, warn drivers of problems, and much more. Computers have also done their part for fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, but they can act up. With such powers at their disposable, automakers are focused on autonomous driving or connectivity (or both). For example, BMW hires more coding professionals than mechanical engineers, and Volkswagen has invested in quantum computing.
Is the World Close to Autonomy?
Fully autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) is still a long way off for various reasons. Onboard computers help drivers immensely and all manufacturers have to do is play on that to create something safe. Cars already communicate with control centers and each other, so it’s just about taking the next step.
However, fully autonomous and networked driving isn’t likely to be a smooth transition. Recent deadly accidents have shown that the world isn’t ready for full autonomy yet. Many consumers are also rebelling against it because they’re likely to give up a lot of personal information and privacy to do so.
Therefore, automakers who want to invest in this technology and be the first to create a safe way to use it should start focusing on changing consumer’s hearts first.
Many inventors still believe a flying car is possible. Earlier in 2018, a Slovakian company unveiled their design for a flying car with battery power. It’s designed to take off vertically and land vertically, as well as drive along the road. The flying part is autonomous, which means the driver doesn’t require a pilot’s license, though they would still have to drive the vehicle regularly on the road, which requires a driver’s license. The Slovakian design should be ready for 2020, which means flying cars could be something to expect within the next few years.
However, they’re likely to be expensive, just as driver-assist technology was more expensive and electric cars were more expensive. They’re also highly inefficient and are likely to stay that way unless antigravity technology is created and used extensively. For example, if you’re flying through the air and carrying wheels and other unnecessary (or necessary) weight, it’s going to use a lot of fuel to get you where you’re going, especially if you consider flying SUV.
However, something more plausible is Airbus’s design of a passenger pod that’s carried around in the battery-operated unit. It carries the pod throughout town, dropping it off on a chassis powered by battery so that it can be driven around the city.