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Clever cars - Smart technologies that will soon be available behind the wheel

By raccars Published

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Cars are getting smarter and there are a number of technologies due to enter the market that could change the way we drive forever.

Automotive autonomy

One of the most talked-about trends in the industry at present is that of automation, with companies including Google, Apple and Microsoft all working on their own self-driving vehicles. And in the long term it is likely that many cars will be able to operate entirely free from human intervention. But with extensive testing and development still required and some autonomous cars as yet unable to operate in the rain or during other unpredictable conditions, driverless cars are at least a decade away from mainstream adoption.

Enhanced security

Vehicle security has continued to become more sophisticated, but some kind of key or fob is still required to access and activate the ignition in most modern cars. However, keys may soon become a thing of the past as more manufacturers are considering the integration of security which is based upon taking biometric readings from drivers to determine whether or not they are the vehicle’s owner. That means technologies such as fingerprint scanning and even retinal readings could soon be used to unlock the car and start up the engine. Anyone with a modern iPhone will already be familiar with the convenience of biometric security.

Inter-car connectivity

Millions of vehicles share the UK's roads every day, so companies are working to help drivers by connecting cars to one another. Wireless communication between cars will give drivers up to the minute information about the road ahead, providing them with warnings if accidents occur or if traffic is forming in a far more real-time fashion than in any system that is currently available.

Smart software

Connectivity is one thing, but making use of it to deliver enhanced analytical facilities and creating a car that is capable of learning the habits of its driver is quite another. And this is precisely what Mercedes-Benz is doing at the moment. The German manufacturer is utilising the power of cloud computing to allow a car to cater to the specific needs of its owner and to become better at predicting behaviour over time. This may even extend to determining where you are going as you get behind the wheel and automatically warning you of congestion on your preferred route, for example on the drive to work in the morning.

Real time risk assessment

Some services of this type already exist, but more and more cars will soon be built with the integrated ability to monitor the way in which a person drives, using this to determine just how safe a specific driver really is when out on the road. This is likely to have an impact in the car rental market sooner rather than later, since the smart technology empowers hire firms to determine how much of a risk particular customers represent and to adjust premium charges accordingly. Whilst this may have rather intrusive overtones, it will mean that good drivers will ultimately reap the rewards.

Emergency driver assist

Some high specification cars are already capable of automatically applying the brakes or adjusting the steering if a potential collision is detected or a vehicle drifts out of its designated lane. And this functionality is likely to become far more widely available, especially with manufacturers such as Tesla choosing to invest heavily in this area. Such technologies are essentially another rung on a ladder that leads to fully autonomous cars, although it will take some time for these capabilities to find their way into the average family hatchback.

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