Although self-driving cars might not be available for the masses until now, nonetheless automakers are already decking out their newer vehicles with some pretty innovative technologies. Next time you are in the market for a new car, a list of some of the most high-tech features to hunt for have been brought together. However, you must note that some of the features mentioned below are very new and only available in higher-end cars for the time being, but we expect it won’t be long before most of this technology becomes mainstream.
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication is essentially precisely what it sounds like. It is such a type of communication technology where cars not only talk to other vehicles but also to the surrounding infrastructure such as traffic lights.
The reason for it being so important is that cars are becoming more autonomous day by day and therefore they will need to be able to communicate with other cars on the road in order to operate more safely.
We can say, in the more short-term, that V2V and V2I allow cars to share essential information in order to help human drivers, for instance, the 2017 Mercedes E-Class makes use of V2V communication to pass on data about traffic, climate conditions, and other critical information about the road ahead to other Mercedes vehicles on the road.
Bluetooth connectivity is becoming more widespread in newer vehicles and for good reason, too. In addition to allowing you to start playing your music from your phone in your car, Bluetooth also enables all types of other fancy new features like the GM’s Chevrolet Bolt, scheduled to be displayed by the end of this year, uses the Bluetooth connectivity which allows the car automatically detect the user’s smartphone. In this way, you stay connected to the vehicle at all times by means of the car’s app. Owners can also do things like check the car’s charge, start the vehicle, and pre-condition the cabin.
Bluetooth connectivity is also being planned to be used by Volvo in order to Bluetooth connectivity to swap your keys with your smartphone. . Basically, the car would detect your smartphone using Bluetooth and unlock your vehicle. The Swedish company has plans to make this feature available in at least one of its vehicles during 2017.
WiFi and LTE 4G connectivity
WiFi and LTE 4G connectivity are starting to be offered by more automakers in their newer vehicles. Nevertheless, you will still have to pay for whatever data plan you choose.
Fundamentally, your car becomes a hotspot by means of WiFi and LTE 4G, thereby letting you connect several devices to the network. In this way, without worrying about killing the battery of their mobile device, passengers can easily stream music, video, and surf the web.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
In order to prohibit people from staring at their smartphones while driving, it has become very important to be able to connect with your apps in the car. Gratefully, numerous car makers are now making their vehicles compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Through your car’s infotainment center, these systems let you access a variety of supported apps such as you are capable of controlling Spotify, make hands-free phone calls, and even dictate messages to your friends via Siri while being connected to Apple CarPlay. You can also look at the full list of vehicles which are now supporting Apple CarPlay on Apple’s website. Along with this, you can view automakers supporting Android Auto at www.android.com.
In today’s connected world, voice control has become a requirement. It makes you capable of doing things such as send texts and make phone calls by simply pushing down a button and speaking.
Wireless charging capabilities
Although slowly, but automakers are introducing wireless charging into their new vehicles. But, this feature only operates with compatible smartphones, which are almost entirely Android devices. Therefore, make sure that you check what smartphones your new vehicle supports for this particular feature.
Despite the fact that Apple’s current iPhone lineup does not support wireless charging at present, the tech giant may reveal support for wireless charging with the iPhone 8, which is expected next year.
One of the most amazing innovations in automobiles is back-up cameras. As soon as you shift to reverse, the screen automatically displays what is behind you. It comes very handy if you are going in or coming out of tight spaces, and makes sure that you don’t hit something or someone behind you.
Blind spot awareness
The area alongside and behind the vehicle is monitored by a blind spot awareness function. So, In case another car is detected in the blind spot area, a warning signal is displayed in the glass of the side mirror. In some vehicles, such as in the 2017 Mercedes E-Class, the system will even alert the driver with a warning sound if the driver continues to change lanes in a dangerous situation.
Software updates are becoming more crucial as cars are becoming more and more connected. Besides supporting new features in your car, for instance updated map information, updates also patch dangerous software glitches or bugs.
At present, most of the vehicles are needed to be taken to a dealer in order to receive software updates, or an owner has to download the software to a thumbdrive so as to install the update in their vehicle. However, that won’t be the case for long. Tesla has already rolled out its software updates over-the-air, and other major car makers are planning to do the same with upcoming vehicles. For example, Volvo devises to implement the ‘tech for over-the-air updates’ in its first production vehicles in 2017.
As per the research firm IHS, actually the total number of vehicles in operation with mapping over-the-air updates is likely to grow from 1.2 million in 2015 to almost 32 million by 2022.
These days, electrified cars are gaining some serious momentum. Due to the apprehensions about climate change nowadays in addition to the advancement in battery technology, automakers have been forced to get involved in the electric car game. Indeed, most of the upcoming electric vehicles that automakers have publicised will have an electric range of 200 miles or more. For example, General Motors aims to reveal its Chevy Bolt by the end of this year which will have a range of 200+ miles on a single charge and will cost $35,000 after tax credits.
Alongside this, Tesla also plans to roll out its first mass market electric car, the Model 3, in 2018 which will cost $35,000 before tax incentives. In addition to this, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Ford are all also aiming to either launch an all-electric car or expand their offerings of electrified vehicles by 2020.
Digital instrument panel
Currently, digital versions of the vehicle’s instrument panel are being adopted by several car makers as it allows people to customize the display, such as traditional things, like the speedometer or the tachometer can be displayed by means of the digital instrument panel. Besides, it can also be used to show navigation information right in front of you. In this way, more information can be displayed right in front of you, hence making it easier to drive safely.
It is not always easy to see the road while driving at night, particularly when you are traveling down a dark, lonely highway. However, the cars having the night vision feature can alert the driver to things that may not be visible.
For instance, the night vision feature of Audi makes use of thermal imaging so that in case an animal or person is nearby, it can show the driver by displaying their presence on the instrument cluster. Numerous forms of night-vision are also being offered on selected models by BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
A heads-up display is extremely valuable as it makes you capable of viewing navigation information and other important data directly in your line of vision, thereby assisting you to always keep your eyes on the road like in the 2017 Audi Q7, the current speed, speed limit, and navigation information can be viewed by the driver easily.
Semi-autonomous driving system
Semi-autonomous driving systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, are slowly but surely making their way to market in newer vehicles. The systems makes your car capable of handling steering and braking while driving on the highway in particular conditions.
The 2017 Mercedes E-Class, for instance, is equipped with a semi-autonomous system called Drive Pilot that allows the vehicle to drive itself on highways at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour. Together with this, a function known as Distant Pilot Distronic is also included in the Drive Pilot system which is essentially a fancy cruise control that lets the car follow the car in front of it at a set distance or speed.
Nonetheless, you must be familiar with this fact that the semi-autonomous systems like Drive Pilot or like Tesla’s Autopilot do not make these cars truly driverless. Instead, the systems are meant to assist the owners to drive more safely. This implies that it is vital to keep your hands on the wheel when a semi-autonomous system is activated.
Well, the highway is not the only place some cars can drive themselves, though. There are some systems in the newer cars that allow them to park themselves in particular conditions. For instance, Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, the 2016 BMW 7 Series, and the 2017 Mercedes E-Class all have a function that lets the driver remotely park or remove the vehicle from a parking space. Even though, this feature can only be used on private property, however it is quite cool and can bring the vehicle to you so you don’t have to go fetch it.
Automatic emergency braking
It is a safety feature that which comes into effect right before an imminent collision, thereby helping the driver avoid impact. Many cars having the automatic braking will also alert the driver with an audio or visual warning before a collision. But, in case the diver does not respond, the car will automatically apply the brakes.
In new vehicles, this feature is becoming more standard. In actual fact, 10 of the biggest automakers committed to making automatic emergency braking standard which include Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.