RAC Cars News


Future Car Technology

By raccars Published

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Automotive technology continues to advance at the speed of an Italian hypercar, with Ford's latest innovation, announced this week, able to detect if a driver is experiencing a heart attack while at the wheel.

The ultra high tech system is built into a special car seat and will override driver control and pull over, if its electrocardiograph device senses a serious health issue. The system can then contact emergency services and even transmit the car's location. The car seat is embedded with six cardiographic sensors of the kind used to monitor cardiac activity in hospitals and Ford hopes to have it on the market within a few years.

Another technology expected to feature within cars very soon is gesture recognition, similar to the system used by Tom Cruise's character in the film 'Minority Report.' The system means drivers don't actually need to touch controls to activate functions but merely to swipe their hands to change the car stereo volume, for example. Gesture recognition should make driving safer as motorists don't need to look away from the road to locate switchgear.

Adaptive headlights already help to illuminate around approaching corners at night, but manufacturers are also working on wireless technology, that will advise drivers what kind of vehicle will appear around the next corner. The technology could possibly be adapted to use smartphones to locate and so to avoid pedestrians.

Head up displays are already appearing in premium cars and augmented reality dashboards are expected to become an increasingly common feature. These will project important driving information on to the windscreen, right in front of the driver, who will no longer need to take his gaze away from the road to check his speed, fuel levels etc.

Exterior airbags have already been used by Volvo to protect pedestrians, but car protection airbags are being developed by Mercedes, to fit front skirt and other areas of cars for added crash protection.

Always at the forefront of new technology, Volvo is developing body panels that are capable of harvesting and storing energy. The lightweight carbon fibre panels should also increase efficiency. However, fabric panels that can morph into alternative forms are also under development, less for aesthetic reasons but more to lower aerodynamic resistance and improve fuel economy.

Electric car owners will be excited by the new possibilities opened by wireless charging. While currently this simply does away with the need for a cable, in the future, it could make arguments about range obsolete, with wireless charging systems built into the road network, so that electric cars are constantly being charged as they are driven.

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