Vehicle design has always been a hot bed for new technologies, with features that improve performance to systems that concentrate on the safety aspects of operating a motor car. Modern manufacturing processes, and an increased interest in making future cars more environmentally friendly, is driving the industry to come up with more innovative ways of presenting their product as the best available to a more informed and mature car buying public.
• Biometric vehicle access
Keyless entry is not a new concept but fobless entry is the next logical step. The technology is based on biometrics, with sensors embedded in the seat belt or steering wheel. It is also possible to include finger print or retinal scan systems which offer a clear advantage in car security. The technology is not exclusive as it has been employed on mobile phones and computers but it does represent a move forward for car manufacturers.
• Vehicle tracking
Again, not a new concept but most definately due an update. With more roads set to become fee paying and insurance companies demanding more information on car usage, it seems inevitable that a full revamp of tracking technology will be needed. It could be argued that this in favour of insurance providers or possibly governments, but comprehensive tracking is just as likely to reduce costs, as vehicle losses due to theft fall.
• Autonomous vehicle driving and overide systems.
Autonomous systems are very much in their infancy, and the latest car technology to be incorporated into vehicle design. A number of manufacturers such as Mercedes, Vauxhall and Hyundai now include self parking and assisted brake options within their range but self driving cars are still a concept for the future. It raises a number of ethical issues as well as technological challenges such as - If an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident. Who is responsible? The driver or the manufacturer? Advancements in "drive by wire" design is far from complete so the likelyhood of it becoming the norm is a number of years away.
H.U.D or 'Head Up Display' is not necessarily the latest car technology, but it has not been utilised to anything near its potential. With GPRS systems, advanced display options and new forms of windscreen construction, it is possible to display a huge range of information; directly to the driver. The advantages of this are clear. With less time checking ancilliary systems and warnings and more time concentrating on the road, the chances of an accident due to driver error could be greatly reduced.
• Driver monitoring systems
A serious health issue or a sleepy driver account for a measurable percentage of accidents and fatalties. Driver monitoring could help reduce and possibly avoid many of these scenarios by constantly checking the drivers reflexes and physical condition, safely stopping the car should it prove necessary. It could be argued that such systems interfere with a driver's control but safety is paramount.
The latest vehicle technology is an ever advancing science, with driver safety and monitoring information being at the forefront. There are many other branches such as efficiency measures and increased power from much smaller engine capacities. The capabilities of current motor cars are only a shadow of what will be possible in the future.