Whether it’s lowering carbon emissions, keeping us safe on the motorway or providing drivers with unparalleled levels of comfort, car manufacturers are constantly working to improve the driving experience for us all. But with in-car technology advancing so quickly, how do we know what to expect next? Here, we’ve enlisted the help of new Aston Martin retailer Grange.
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Are we any closer to self-driving vehicles?
Car manufacturers have been working on developing self-driving technology for the past few decades. Most manufacturers now offer self-driving technology as part of their latest models – with most used to improve road safety.
Helping drivers to stay in the correct lane
Lane departure warning systems are designed to make the driving experience safer overall by helping drivers to stay in their own lanes on the motorway. When driving on the motorway, it’s vital that you stay firmly in your lane, unless you are overtaking. This system alerts you with a vibration on the steering wheel if your vehicle is unintentionally edging out of its lane – and in circumstances when the vehicle thinks you are reacting too slow, the vehicle will take control and provide steering torque to divert you back into the safe space on your lane. This is a safety feature to prevent drivers from veering out of their lane on motorways and dual carriageways where drivers around them are driving at high speeds.
Helping drivers see who’s in their blind spot
The BLIS (or blind spot information system) alerts the driver when another vehicle is occupying the blind spot. When a vehicle enters your blind spot zone, the BLIS system will alert you. The detection area is on both sides of your vehicle, extending rearward from the exterior mirrors to approximately 10 feet (3 meters) beyond the bumper. The system alerts you via a small light on your side wing mirrors – when there is a vehicle in your blind spot zone, the light will illuminate. When your blind spot zone is clear, the light will switch off.
Helping drivers keep their speed down
Many drivers have accidentally gone slightly over the speed limit without noticing on the motorway, but this helpful system is designed to combat this. By using GPS, the system is able to detect the vehicle location and reference this with a digital road map that is programmed with speed limit information for each road. The system can be used as an active speed limiter whereby it can take control of the vehicle and reduce the speed when travelling above the speed limit. It does this by reducing the throttle signal. Additionally, the system is also fitted with a speed limiting function that increases the pressure on the accelerator when you exceed the speed limit, so that it is harder to accelerate and break the speed limit.
How are car manufacturers improving the driving experience?
Adapting to the weather
Jaguar Land Rover have been designing weather adapting tech. The system allows cars to autonomously adapt to weather changes and situations to make adjustments to drivetrain, suspension, traction control and climate control for optimum efficient driving. The system is said to be able to connect to present and future weather data via telematics and GPS to sensibly adapt both inside the cabin and around the exterior. One feature suggests that the system will automatically close your vehicle windows if it senses that rain is forecast. Onboard rain- and terrain-sensing mechanisms will be used to control the temperature, pressure and humidity inside the cabin, whilst interior and exterior lighting will be altered depending on the circumstances.
How are car manufacturers helping the environment?
The new Nissan Lead features an innovative eco-pedal. The electric automobile not only has double the mileage range of its previous model equivalents, but the one-pedal driving system allows for the accelerator pedal to be transformed into a multifunctioning e-pedal at a touch. The e-pedal functions as a start, stop, accelerate and breaking pedal when activated. Suitable for 90% of urban driving, the system means that the car will slow to a halt by itself with the ability to hold itself on an incline without the need of the brake pedal.
The latest addition of the eco-pedal is even more eco-friendly than previous models from this manufacturer. Nicknamed the ECO-pedal system, the pedal controls the speed of acceleration to prevent revving up the engine. The level of fuel-efficient driving is displayed through a colour and flashing Eco-P lamp. According to Nissan, studies have proven that effective eco-driving with the ECO-pedal can contribute to an improved fuel efficiency by 5-10%.
Faster charging times for EV’s
EV battery life has been a source of frustration for electric vehicle manufacturers, but the new quick charge batteries are said to be able to achieve full power in under 30 minutes. Researchers claim they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank – a solution to the biggest headache of electric vehicles. This would revolutionise the EV industry, as battery life and its charge has been the biggest challenge for the industry.
The electric car market is set to make significant progress in the coming years. According to the National Grid, peak demand for electricity could increase by 50%, if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles – which could be sooner than we think now that a new pan-European EV charging network has been announced too. IONITY, set up by the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and the VW Group with Audi and Porsche, launched the network early November 2017, and plans to work on 20 ultra-rapid charging points has already begun as they begin their EV charger installation plan to target for 400 points across Europe by 2020.
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