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Auto, Innovation, Technology, UX & Technology

Future Trends and Innovation in the Automotive Industry

In our latest Automotive Worldwide Series, we have discussed in depth the UX in automotive and have had a bird’s eye view of the industry in certain booming cities. (Check those articles out if you haven’t!) Now it’s time for us to turn our heads fully forward and look ahead to the future. There are trends that have been lurking around and we believe are about to change the landscape of automotive. Let’s explore these emerging trends before they take over the industry – the 5 trends highlighted in this article are:

  • Self-Driving Cars
  • Car Sharing
  • Traffic Congestion and Smart Transportation Solutions
  • Electric Cars
  • In-Car Safety

Self-Driving Cars

People have been imagining a life with driverless cars for decades as self-driving cars seem to be a must-have in many utopian cities in sci-fi movies. And now, the days of hands-free driving are really approaching.

  • The way to level 5: there are 6 levels of autonomy in vehicles, from level 0 – no automation to level 5 – full automation. The cars achieving level 5 are able to drive without human intervention on all the roads all the time, which is the ultimate goal of self-driving cars. At this moment in 2022, no level 5 vehicles have made a public appearance but we are not far from that. Waymo, the autonomous driving technology company owned by Alphabet Inc, is having their level 4 taxi running in Arizona. 
  • Regulation: whilst technology is making progress, so is government regulation. Recently, California gave permission to Cruise’s driver-less service. The subsidiary of General Motors is approved to provide driverless rides to passengers from 10 pm to 6 am when the traffic is relatively light.
  • Winning with partners: apart from companies like Waymo and Cruise which mainly focus on autonomous driving, automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz are developing their driver-less cars too, and to win the race they often team up with someone that could give them an edge. Take Jaguar Land Rover as an example. The luxury vehicle brand partners with Nvidia, the leader in AI technology, to co-develop automated driving systems since self-driving cars rely on artificial intelligence and sensors to identify the surroundings and choose the correct paths. 

Every contestant in the race to level 5 self-driving cars is making huge efforts to be the frontrunner. Let’s see who is the winner and how that could change our lives.

Car Sharing

When it comes to Gen Z, realistic is one of the traits that the group is often labelled with. Now that a part of Gen Z have started their adult life, it is foreseeable that their perception of car ownership is going to affect the automotive market. Gen Z value access more than ownership. Therefore, it won’t be surprising that the trend of car sharing might be increasing. Compared with owning a car, car sharing appears to be a more practical option to them. 

  • Traditional car club: By joining a car club such as Zipcar around the local area, club members can access a car whenever they need it. The fleets are owned by the clubs and shared by the members. The idea of paying by hours/days is appealing as the price covers all fuel, insurance, maintenance and congestion charges.
  • Peer-to-peer car sharing: in peer-to-peer car sharing, the car clubs consist of both car owners and car renters. Owners share their cars with renters when the cars are not in use, and in return, renters pay for their usage of the cars. This is an economical model for both parties – owners earn extra rewards and renters save the cost of buying and maintenance.

Traffic Congestion and Smart Transportation Solutions

Another trend we’re starting to see, and something we’ll definitely see more of in the future of the automotive industry, is smart mobility solutions that help to reduce traffic congestion. There are various solutions in practice and development, including the following:

Autonomous vehicles: these are methods of transportation that don’t require human drivers to help control them. Instead, they use sensors and high-tech software to navigate and control the vehicle. For example, the use of delivery bots in Milton Keynes helps keep congestion down, with a robot completing the delivery rather than a human driver. 

Adaptive traffic lights: everyday, traffic light technology is improving. Areas all across the world, known as ‘smart cities’, are beginning to adapt their traffic light systems in order to make them more efficient at heavily congested times of the day. For example, the city of Columbus, Ohio has started using data from its government fleet vehicles to improve the timing of the traffic lights, and allow them to modify this timing throughout the day. 

  • Real-time traffic management: this involves using technology to track the congestion levels of different areas, feeding this back and then making any adjustments necessary. For example, in 2020 the city of London launched Sitraffic Fusion, a program designed to manage traffic by collecting data from connected vehicles. This program works as a key feature in London’s Real Time Optimiser system, which has been managing road traffic through data implanted in roads, cameras, and connected infrastructure.

Electric Cars

A trend that will only become more and more advanced is the evolution of electric vehicles, all across the world. Already we’ve seen the growth and development of EVs, across a multitude of countries, but especially in Australia (see this post) due to their large supply of lithium. Electric vehicles are powered by electricity, whether fully or partially. They’re not only far better for the environment due to not needing to use fossil fuels to power them, but also far cheaper to run. 

As technology advances, and more testing and research is done on improving the offering of EV’s, we will start to see these benefits across whole cities, countries and continents. This is not only due to the more advanced elements of the vehicles, but also because as they become more common, the price of an electric vehicle will likely match that of a normal one someday.

In-Car Safety

One last trend on the rise in automotive are in-car safety elements. These are pieces of technology implemented within the in-car journey that are working to make the overall driving experience easier, smoother and safer, for everyone on the road. These include things like:

  • Autopilot: for moments when the driver cannot control the vehicle themselves
  • Park assist: to help in tricky parking situations
  • Auto braking: new technology that works by using sensors and/or cameras to monitor objects in front of the vehicle and brake automatically if something is detected.  
  • App-controlled elements: this allows you to check on your vehicle, lock and unlock and get updates in sensors go off
  • Chemical defences: unique to the Tesla, some models have a feature called ‘Bioweapon defence mode’. These are equipped with a HEPA filtration system that can prevent toxic chemicals from entering the cabin.

As technology advances, the list of in-car safety elements will just grow and grow. In ten years time, those included on our list will likely be out-dated, and even more unimaginable things will be on the horizon. 

Transport has always been a significant element of our lifestyle. Owning a car or not, driving an electric car or not – these all have great impacts on our daily lives. The trends in automotive industry could open up more possibilities for everyone, regardless of whether you drive or not!

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