There’s a strong possibility that if you’ve purchased a new Lexus within the past several years that it can park itself; that a new Mercedes Benz might be able to inform you when it detects that you’re getting tired and step in when you’ve begun to coast into other lanes; and, if you own a new Ford, you can probably speak to it and have it play you a particular song playlist, or help guide you to a specified location with its integrated GPS.
The Now Of Car Technology
It’s a relatively new phenomenon, but car manufacturers have begun to turn increasingly more and more towards technological innovation in order to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers. For example, the three big German luxury manufacturers in BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz (MB) have all created similar technologies aimed towards benefiting the driver: BMW has iDrive, Audi uses MMI and MB uses the COMAND APS system.
Still, even more affordable brands like Ford, Chevy, and Honda have all begun hopping onto the technological bandwagon in an effort to make their vehicles far more attractive options for purchase. Ford, for example, has seen huge success and adoption rates with their Sync service.
Yet even despite the increasing propensity of car manufacturers to develop technologies in order to benefit their drivers, the future of technology in vehicles isn’t simply in making the act of driving more convenient.
Cars That Drive Themselves
In some instances, technology seeks to replace the driver almost entirely. Recently, Google has begun developing and testing technology that will allow cars to drive autonomously. Audi, too, has gotten involved in the ever-popular autonomous car market, having recently developed a car that piloted itself up Pikes Peak.
Still, those are technologies that seek to benefit, almost exclusively, the driver, having limited impact on the world outside of that. And yet, with the technological world becoming an increasingly better connected place through social media, embracing the social media frontier is something that will become increasingly important for manufacturers. Already, Chevrolet has begun to do so, allowing drivers to check their Facebook status from the comfort of their drivers seat. But providing more distractions isn’t necessarily solution.
Connectivity, Not Complication
Which is why I feel that the future of automotive technology is in creating opportunities for the driver. Opportunities to meet up with friends, drive to stores or restaurants and keep up on their scheduled maintenances. Tapping into their phones in order to remind them that, in 30 minutes, they have a meeting with an important client.And now, with social media playing an increasingly important role in our lives, it should also be a part of our driving experience while still providing minimal distraction.
And I stress the importance of minimal distraction. Listening to music, following directions on a GPS and talking with friends is already extremely distracting and a potential recipe for disaster. Arguably the most important aspect of new technology in cars is in keeping us safe, so it’s important that other technologies which may not be intended to make our vehicles more safe don’t necessarily make them riskier, either.
Needless to say, technology is an ever-evolving pursuit of perfection and convenience. The purpose of technology is to make our lives easier, safer and, in some cases, better connected. And eventually, in order to create the safest road environment, that may involve taking the human driver out of the equation entirely.
But that’s in the future. Now, what’s important is finding better and more intuitive ways for us to connect with others in our vehicles, while simultaneously ensuring that we’re not necessarily being asked to take our eyes off the road, either.
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