From horsecarts and the first steam-powered automobile built in 1769 to supercars and electric vehicles, the automotive industry has come a long way. Innovation is what drives the automobile industry to deliver and exceed customer expectations and change the industry landscape. While it may seem like the automobile industry has hit a brick wall in terms of innovation, it is far from the truth. Automotive innovations take place in both smaller and larger scale from minor improvements in engine performance and fuel economy to driverless cars and automotive telematics. The car industry is rapidly innovating to improve sustainability and decrease its dependence on fossil fuels. Today, the automobiles are not all about the hardware and engines but incorporate software and artificial intelligence to become a truly smart car. So, what are the automotive innovations that are transforming the car industry?
Top innovations in the automobile industry
Hydrogen powered cars
Imagine an electric vehicle, which can be refilled similar to traditional processes and provide the same range as conventional cars and trucks. Hydrogen powered cars use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor. It uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and produces only water and heat as a byproduct. Toyota has taken initiatives to succeed in this area by rolling out Toyota Mirais in California. By 2017, the company already sold as many as 5,3000 Mirais globally. A five minutes refueling can provide a driving range of around 312 miles.
To err is human, and self-driving cars don’t rely on humans to navigate safely on the road. Tesla has revolutionized the automotive industry by developing complex AI systems, which can drive far cars more efficiently and safely than humans. Such cars can easily detect road signals, incoming traffic, and sudden lane changes to maintain safety. Additionally, full autonomy will allow fleet management and logistics companies to lower the financial cost of transportation. Tesla cars are equipped with 12 ultrasonic sensors that detect both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system.
Dashboards are the control panel in a car and provide the driver with the necessary information and alerts. It also allows the user to control specific aspects of the vehicle. But wouldn’t it be cool to control by just looking at it? Porsche just unveiled Mission E, a concept car which can be charged by merely driving over a special tile and has a holographic dashboard which can be controlled just by looking at it. The dashboard instruments in the car are operated by eye-tracking and gesture control systems and some even via holograms.
Mercedes vision van
At CES 2017, Mercedes unveiled their Vision Van, which reimagines how a future van should be like. The vehicle integrates numerous innovative technology by featuring a fully automated cargo space and has delivery drones that can deliver packages up to 2kg till distances up to 20kms. The car is powered by a 75kW electric drive system, which offers a driving range of up to 270km. Vision Van also features a telematics system, which collects and processes data related to the status of the delivery.
Goodyear spherical tire
The auto industry has witnessed numerous automotive innovations relating to cars or driving systems. However, many people wouldn’t have expected innovations in terms of a vehicle’s tires. Goodyear brought some refreshing idea with its concept tire, Eagle-360. The tire was designed with key features of maneuverability, connectivity, and biomimicry to enable autonomous mobility. The tire can communicate with autonomous vehicle control systems to sense road conditions and weather conditions to improve safety and adapt to road conditions. Additionally, the tires also shape-shift to adjust to different terrains and automatically repairs itself.
For more information on innovations in the automobile industry, and the rise of AI and machine learning in the auto industry: