2017 was a difficult year for the auto industry, with overall sales being down against the previous year. Unfortunately, this is a trend that seems set to continue, at least for the short-term. However, despite this gloomy outlook, there is still a lot to be excited about from the automotive industry. New companies continue to innovate the marketplace, and established names are being forced to pull out all the stops to keep up.
Technology in vehicles had been sadly lacking. Although there have been vast improvements over the last decade, most vehicles haven’t kept pace with the cutting-edge technological developments seen in areas such as smart phones and computers. However, it seems like change is on the horizon as a number of new technologies are introduced and perfected. The remainder of 2018 will hopefully see some exciting developments in car technology trends. In this article we’ll take a look at some that show the most promise.
The Electric Age Continues to Dawn
There was some good news to come out of 2017; sales of electric vehicles were up considerably. There were big releases from Tesla (the Model 3) and Chevy (the Bolt), as well as announcements for 2018 EVs from Nissan (the new Leaf) and Audi (the e-tron Quattro). It’s great to see companies, both established and new, challenging one another for what will almost certainly be the future of transportation.
Electric cars are more viable than ever before. Tesla has proven that a practical and affordable modern car can be mass-produced, and Chevy has demonstrated that incredibly long ranges can be achieved without sacrificing power or convenience. Expect to see more exciting announcements and concepts from leading brands, as electric vehicles are more widely adopted.
Cars Will Be More Connected
Connected vehicles will finally hit the mainstream in 2018. We mentioned in the introduction that technologies have been lagging behind somewhat, but that’s changing. So what are connected cars? Well, they’re vehicles that allow the driver and passengers to connect a range of devices to use with the car, as well as features like a wireless connection, infotainment unit, and in-dash system. Other features include automated driver assistance, assisted safety features, and the ability to monitor and update car and software vitals.
The impressive array of features that will embody connected cars will continue to grow, and more vehicles in 2018 will be connected. The Internet of Things will play a major role in keeping our smart devices in sync with all areas of our lives, including our vehicles. There are big expectations for the connected cars market, and 2018 will mark the start of its growth.
Developments in Driverless Vehicles
We’re still a long way from a world where driverless vehicles are commonplace. The start of 2018 saw a big setback to Uber’s self-driving vehicle trial, in the most tragic of circumstances. It’s clear that there is much to be done to build on the early stages of this technology, and until the driverless vehicles are safer and smarter, they won’t be taking to the roads any time soon. However, 2018 will hopefully see a lot more progress in terms of self-driving vehicles.
You only have to look at a list of the plans for driverless vehicles in 2018 to see that many global companies are committed to developing this technology. We’ll hopefully see a lot of road tests, positive results, and improvements to the technology in 2018.
Emerging AI Assistance
Although fully-automated vehicles are still a way off, technology-assisted ones are very much a reality. Features such as adaptive lighting control, automatic braking, automatic parking, and collision avoidance systems are all becoming commonplace in our cars. We are more in tune with our vehicles than ever before, thanks to a range of technologies that help us when we drive. And this is just the beginning.
Technology giants NVidia announced their plans to partner with Volkswagen to develop AI systems that will make cars smarter and offer more driver assistance. Elements such as voice, gesture, and facial recognition, technology we’re already familiar with, could find its way into our vehicles. Expect to see more announcements of a similar nature coming from other companies in 2018.
One of the most interesting functions that the new AI will be able to perform is detective maintenance. This is already being used by several auto companies, but over the next year or so it will become more prevalent. Vehicle parts that can diagnose themselves if there’s an issue, or even notify you before a serious issue has a chance to develop mean a much safer and more dependable driving experience. Alerts and reminders can also be issued periodically for things like oil changes, tire rotation, etc. Vehicle software can even automatically schedule appointments for check ups or maintenance if a problem arises.
The Continued Rise of Ride Sharing
Ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft continued to perform strongly in 2017. Their approach has truly revolutionized the way we get around. Not only are taxi firms struggling to keep up, but there is a definite shift in attitude towards owning a car. This is particularly true of those who live in inner-cities. The costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle in an urban setting are ever increasing. As such, more commuters are turning to ride sharing services to navigate the busy innards of metropolitan life.
2018 will likely see the wider adoption of carpool apps and services, as well as the continued dominance of apps like Uber and Lyft. However, taxi firms are not quite ready to close their doors just yet, and they will likely start pushing their own apps and online services in a bid to compete in the marketplace.
An Exciting Year to Come
Even amongst the struggling sales numbers, car manufacturers are finding ways to innovate and improve their vehicles. 2018 has already shown some glimpses of what’s to come, and there are no doubt more surprises in store. What’s clear is that technology is very much the driving force behind improvements in the auto industry. From increased automation to greater connectivity, the changes that we’re seeing are setting the foundations for the future of cars. Electric vehicles are bringing an ever more environmentally friendly and responsible method of transportation, and ride sharing services are changing the way we think about transportation. So despite a slowdown in overall vehicle tech progression recently, the advancements that will do end up seeing will be exciting, especially with the likes of Nvidia and other tech giants getting involved.