The future of driving: safety and innovation

The automotive future

Our top tips for the near future of the automotive industry

Self-driving cars

The Department for Transport said in February it was keen for self-driving cars to be tested on UK roads – and the Government is investing more than £250 million in research and development through its Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, created in 2015. However, the technology – which uses lasers, GPS, cameras and other sensors to map the road ahead – still has many limitations to overcome, including interference from weather, differences in lane markings in different countries, and things people do (double parking, for example, confuses self-driving cars).

5G functionality

Samsung unveiled the world’s first remotely-controlled 5G car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July. Racing driver Vaughn Gittin Jr remotely drove a car up a hill despite not being anywhere near it, using a virtual reality headset, a live camera feed from the car, and a racing wheel and pedals. Samsung worked on the innovation with technology company Designated Driver and Vodafone, whose 5G network was used to operate the car. Curtis Moldrich, online editor of Car Magazine, explained: “As autonomous and connected cars draw closer, it’s become clear that a high-speed, failure-proof network will be needed to allow them to communicate with the cloud, and with each other.” However, there is the issue of how the technology would work in an area where there was poor reception.

Maps on the move

Mercedes has already unveiled a satellite navigation system that incorporates video images recorded by cameras at the front of the car, with instructions appearing over the images rather than a map. Scottish car dealers Eastern Western Motor Group explained: “Rather than looking down at a graphic, the system will show the actual image with indicators like arrows or building numbers overlaid on top. This is particularly helpful for drivers approaching busy intersections or motorways where there are multiple lanes and exits in a short distance and the map might not communicate which one to take clearly enough.” The system has been available on the A-Class since last year.

Safety

Safety will always be one of the most important technology trends in the automotive industry - and Fleet News reported earlier this month that Hyundai had developed a new centre side airbag. The bag would be fitted inside the driver's seat and would expand into the space between the driver and the front passenger, with the aim of reducing head injuries and protecting the driver from a right-side collision. Hyundai says it expects the airbag to reduce head injuries caused by passengers colliding with each other by 80 per cent.

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