What to Expect from Car Electronics in 2020 and Beyond
New cars are certainly no stranger to technology. Even just ten years ago, most cars didn’t have a rear-view camera, GPS navigation and many other common features you’ll find in most new cars sold today.
Do you ever wonder what cars will be like 10 years from now? While we can’t know for sure, experts have made quite a few educated guesses. Here’s a look at what to expect from car electronics in 2020 and beyond:
More Internet Connectivity
Cars and internet access are only going to become more intertwined. Increasing cellular data speeds will almost certainly lead to increased speeds of in-car internet. Get ready for a car which seems as wired as your home.
GPS map data will likely improve dramatically. Even out-of-the-way locations will have updated mapping. Also, in-seat video players will be able to stream YouTube, Netflix and other services.
Of course, an increase in technology can also lead to an increase in distracted driving. Expect to see developments related to how and when the driver can interact with any tech not related to driving. This could include limitations on smartphone use while driving and more.
Technology will be able to provide drivers with a ton of real-time info. But being able to read that info when you’re driving can be difficult. Increasingly, info will be displayed in a heads-up display on the windshield. This technology is sometimes also referred to as an Augmented Reality Dashboard.
Have you ever played Pokémon or any other phone game where images are superimposed in real-time on the actual landscape? Imagine something similar, but on the inside of your windshield. Drivers could see real-time directions, maps and other important info.
The main benefit here is the driver doesn’t have to take his or her eyes off the road. More information about the current condition of the road is always welcome, but only if it doesn’t cause a safety issue. Heads-Up holographic displays seem like an effective solution.
Smartwatch and Smartphone Functionality
There are already quite a few apps which perform various features on your car. Right now, the selections are pretty basic. You can unlock the door, sound the alarm and perform other relatively simple issues. But that’s definitely going to change by 2020.
Car companies are already developing new ways to connect your car to your smartphone. Soon you’ll be able to find your car in a parking lot, start and stop the engine, and much more. Many of these features will even be voice activated.
Night Vision Capabilities
According to the National Safety Council, car accidents are three times more likely to occur at night than during the day. Car manufacturers have shown increasing interest in developing cars with night vision capabilities. Heat-based grayscale video will likely be the first to arrive with color night vision following after.
Car-to-X Communication is a concept where each car on the road communicates electronically with other systems throughout the drive. Your car might also send reports about traffic, accidents and other notable real-time news to a central hub. Every car contributes information to develop an overall picture of traffic conditions.
A downside here is a lack of privacy. These types of features could be used to trace an individual’s movements when driving. As technology continues to fill our cars, expect issues of privacy to be a major concern for drivers.
Remote Vehicle Shutdown
The ability to shut down a car remotely already exists. It’s used almost exclusively by law enforcement and OnStar type services. Remote shutdown is most commonly used to immobilize stolen cars and even to stop police chases.
Many car companies are considering developing and introducing remote stopping capabilities to the average consumer. This would mainly be used as a theft prevention measure. Whether that’s a feature customers actually want remains to be seen as the potential for hacking or other abuse could be an issue.
Lane Monitoring Systems
Even the best human drivers have to deal with blind spots. While both vehicle cameras and lane drift systems already exist, they’ll soon be combined into total lane monitoring systems.
Instead of simply beeping when your car drifts out of its lane, these new systems will automatically steer the car back into proper position. Additionally, the system will prevent you from making a lane change if another vehicle is in the way. While nothing will take the place of a driver’s eyes and ears, improved lane monitoring can help improve situational awareness.
While the old days of steel cars were great, they’re likely gone forever. Materials are becoming increasingly lighter each year, but without a reduction in safety or strength. Lightweight materials like aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium will continue to be popular not just in the body but also inside the cabin.
Lightweight construction will be used along with smaller lights and even smaller engines. Reductions are made in weight and size, but ideally not power.
The lighter the vehicle, the greater the gas mileage. Plus, lightweight and thin interior materials create more cabin space. The biggest beneficiaries of lightweight designs will be cars powered by electric batteries, which are currently some of the heaviest cars around proportionally.
Driver Health Monitoring
There’s no good time to have a medical emergency, but certainly one of the worst times is while driving. By the year 2020, we’ll likely see significant progress towards driver health monitoring. Using sensors in the seatbelt or steering wheel, your car will be able to detect if you have a heart attack, seizure or other medical issue.
The car will then pull over to the side of the road. Assistance will be contacted through an onboard safety system. GPS data can even be sent to emergency responders can find you even if you’re unconscious.
24/7 Vehicle Monitoring
Not all potential car tech is necessarily great. Keep an eye out for an increased push towards built-in vehicle tracking systems. This is mainly an interest to insurance companies, who want a more accurate way to determine how far and how often their policyholders are driving.
The technology already exists. In fact, many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who voluntarily equip a small device which monitors miles driven. But those are only used for a week or two. Some insurance companies want more in-depth monitoring.
You can certainly expect to see lots of resistance to this type of device from consumers. But there will likely also be people who are willing to sacrifice privacy for reduced insurance rates. While it’s too soon to tell what will happen, this type of tech will likely play a big role in car insurance in the future.
External Air Bags
The major car safety features available today are the seatbelts, brakes and airbag. While each has saved countless lives, it has been a while since any significantly new safety features have been developed. After all, the airbag was invented in 1951.
The next big safety feature might be the external airbag. This is an airbag which deploys under the entire car. The idea is to perform a safe, but extremely sudden, stop. The airbag has a friction coating which can double the car’s stopping power.
Plus, the airbag lifts the car several centimeters off the ground. This improves bumper-to-bumper contact, which helps focus the damage safely away from passengers. Sensors deploy the airbags when they’ve detected an unavoidable and imminent collision.
Biometric Car Security
Biometrics are systems which can be accessed by a fingerprint or eye scan. Difficult to fool, biometric security systems are used in high-value areas in all types of buildings. But soon that same technology will likely be available for vehicles.
While some biometric fingerprint scanners exist, soon we’ll likely see doors which open when you touch the handle or even just look towards the window as you approach.
Self-driving cars seem inevitable at this point. The main questions involve when they’ll be ready and how society will change with their presence. Fatalities involving self-driving cars have already occurred, making safety an even more pressing issue.
By 2020, there could be a significant number of self-driving cars on the road. Look for changes in traffic behavior. Self-driving cars are able to “pod,” which is when a number of cars all drive relatively close together and share information. In theory, this will increase safety while also decreasing traffic congestion.
In the next few years, cars will likely undergo some pretty radical changes. Technology will continue to aid and even take over many driving tasks. But some aspects of driving will also remain the same.
You likely won’t be able to just hop into a self-driving car, kick back and let the vehicle take you to your destination. There will always be a need for human awareness and reaction. As we head down the road into the future, new technology promises to make driving safe, more efficient and hopefully more fun than ever before.