These automotive technologies will experience accelerated development in 2018, and all will pave the way for the fully autonomous vehicles of the future.
Driver Attention Systems
Driver attention systems use facial recognition software to determine if a driver with no hands on the wheel and no feet on the pedals is alert and paying attention. If it sees that he is not, alarms, both audible and visible, will flood the cabin. It’s an acknowledgement that until all vehicles on the road are connected, some driver involvement will be required. But it allows manufacturers who are introducing various versions of the technology to gain valuable experience with self-driving vehicles.
Precision Mapping Systems
LIDAR, short for light detection and ranging, uses sophisticated laser technology that allows a self-driving car to see the world with incredible accuracy. First, it gives the vehicle a 360-degree view of the environment it’s in-–looking in all directions at all times. Second it provides highly precise a highly precise measurement–-within two centimeters–-of the distance it is from objects in its view. In some form, it will be the eyes of the fully autonomous vehicles of the future.
The car and the smartphone are increasingly co-dependent. More cars are being built with internet connectivity that effectively turns them into Wi-Fi hotspots, and mobile devices are learning to work with cars. The number of connected vehicles on the road is expected to increase from 12.4 million in 2016 to 61 million in 2020.
The Internet of Things
In a world where every car will “talk” with every other car on the road, information about navigation, traffic, climate conditions, crashes and other critical knowledge will be constantly shared. A vehicle mechanical failure will be diagnosed instantly, and in some cases, corrected electronically.
Electric Vehicle Battery Technology and Charging Infrastructure
Due to the accelerated development of battery technology, the distances electric vehicles will be able to travel on a single charge will increase substantially, as will battery longevity. In addition, carmakers, governments and commercial charging firms will all be investing in upgrades to the electrical grid and expanding charging infrastructure. Finally, systems that leverage nanotechnology will recharge EVs in minutes rather than hours.
Some of these technologies have already started to trickle out, and some won’t really take off for a couple years, but 2018 is looking like a critical year for all of them.