How will smart vehicles change the way we travel?
Before long, the humble box on wheels will be replaced by something more intelligent. Smart vehicles are here to stay, and they are multiplying by the day.
- What are the big trends in automotive tech? CES 2019 offered an array of useful tech for drivers and entertainment options for passengers.
- Are EVs better than gasoline-powered cars? Depends on your needs. While EVs cannot yet match the range of an oversized gas tank, many are quicker and quieter.
- Are self-driving cars safe? At present, self-driving cars are only safe with human supervision. However, smarter vehicles are in development.
While superficially different, the vehicles that have transported us for the past century have all been mechanical. Pistons drive crankshafts, steering wheels turn wheels on the road, and so on.
But as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, personal transport is changing. Smart vehicles can adapt to the road, provide drivers with intelligent assistance, and entertain passengers in new ways. We decided to take a closer look at the technology.
What are smart vehicles?
Take any form of personal transport and pack it with technology — hey presto, you have a smart vehicle. If the definition seems loose, it’s because smart vehicles come in many guises. Some are entirely autonomous, while others simply provide fun extras.
Here are some of the latest examples:
Mercedes CLA 2020 Coupé
This German-made coupé looks like millions of other cars on the road. But you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This brand new model is fitted with Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system, complete with smart voice assistant and gesture controls.
The CLA 2020 also has adaptive cruise control, which utilizes GPS data in order to slow the car for sharp bends, toll plazas, and other hazards.
Audi e-Tron Electric SUV
This all-electric SUV replaces wing mirrors with HD cameras, and the center console is one big touchscreen. Behind the wheel, the Virtual Cockpit display provides digital speedometers, rev counters, information, sat nav instructions, and more. The e-Tron also provides three levels of autonomous driving, which you can activate with a tap.
Jaguar i-Pace Luxury EV
The i-Pace is Jaguar’s answer to the e-Tron — and some would say it is even more advanced. This luxurious smart vehicle has two touchscreen control panels, giving you access to all the apps on your phone. The built-in GPS offers detailed 2D and 3D mapping, and you can track your i-Pace if it’s ever stolen.
The i-Pace also has a heads-up display built into the windshield, and the car can remember the preferred settings of each individual driver.
Byton M-Byte Electric SUV
You might not be familiar with Byton — but this startup wants to be a major player. Whereas the big names mentioned above are simply adding tech to familiar designs, this Chinese company is re-imagining personal transport.
The M-Byte’s standout feature is a huge 48-inch display that runs across the dash. The thinking is that it’s much easier to follow your GPS and select your playlist when you can see it easily. There’s also a seven-inch touchscreen embedded in the steering wheel, and an eight-inch tablet in the center console for passengers.
The features don’t stop there. The M-Byte has Alexa on board, and the plan is to add Level 3 autonomous driving via a software update.
Byton is still adding the finishing touches to its extraordinary car. Chinese motorists should be able to get their hands on the M-Byte next year.
Harley Davidson 2019 LiveWire Electric Motorcycle
Cars are not the only kind of smart vehicle making waves. The new LiveWire electric bike from Harley Davidson offers a plethora of impressive rider aids, along with incredible performance.
Through a system called H-D Connect, riders of the LiveWire can view detailed telemetrics via a smartphone app. In addition, the bike has a built-in 4.3-inch touchscreen that provides useful info and turn-by-turn navigation.
BMW R 1250 GS Motorcycle
Thanks to gyroscopic stabilization, this remarkable bike from BMW can actually ride itself. A prototype R1250 GS rolled around the parking lot at CES 2019, balancing automatically.
The idea behind this technology is not to take autonomous control. Instead, BMW envisage such aids being used to help novice riders find their feet and allow racers to test the limits.
Furrion Adonis Smart Yacht
What about smart vehicles with no wheels? Meet the Furrion Adonis, dubbed the world’s smartest yacht.
This 78-foot beast has smart speakers dotted around the interior, allowing you to talk to Alexa. In the bedrooms, you will find smart mirrors that display useful information. The yacht can also track individuals around the vessel, adapting the temperature and music to suit each person. The Adonis even has a TV with anti-vibration technology to combat the ocean swell.
What technology will be in future vehicles?
Along with the technology mentioned above, smart vehicles of the future will have many more features.
Audi and Intel both impressed at CES 2019, with virtual reality experiences for passengers. Every time the car turns left, so does your spaceship in Marvel’s Avengers: Rocket’s Rescue Run.
Valeo has produced a camera system that makes trailers look invisible from the driver’s perspective, while WayRay is putting augmented reality in windshields.
It’s only a matter of time before such technology goes into production. For both drivers and passengers, that can only mean good things.
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