7 Of The Most Important Upcoming Automotive Technologies

Nicholas El Bizri, Jul 04 2017

At the rate at which technology is advancing, automotive tech innovations accelerate year to year. In addition to the increasing importance consumers place on automotive technology during their shopping process, automakers are prioritizing research, development and funds on technological advancement.

Plenty of automakers have showcased futuristic technology through their concept cars, but which automotive technologies are likely to be seen in the next five years? Below is a list identifying the most advanced car technologies we'll probably get to see in showrooms by 2020 and beyond. Many of these technologies are a long way off from inception, but others may just be around the corner.

Keyless Vehicle Access 
In recent years, we’ve seen the transition from keys to “keyless” entry and push-button ignitions. In the near future, we’ll see a complete disregard of keys and key fobs alike. Future cars will allow drivers to unlock and start their cars without anything more than their fingerprint or smart device. Although vehicles already use touch sensitive technology, allowing you to unlock your car by just grabbing the door handle, this relies on the close-proximity of your key fob.

Future cars will have fingerprint scanners installed on door handles and possibly even push buttons, eliminating keys altogether. However, what we may see before biometric scanners is Bluetooth vehicle access. Volvo has already presented such a possibility. With their vehicle app, which leverages Bluetooth technology, drivers are provided with a unique digital key to access their vehicle. Drivers can even share their digital vehicle key with friends and family by simply assigning a contact a digital key, but the party in question is required to have the app installed as well. Take a look at Volvo’s promotional video below to get a better idea of the technology:

Driver Override Systems 
This technology relates to autonomous technology, which we’ve already started to see thanks to automakers such as Tesla, Audi, Ford and many others. However, Driver Override Systems are different, such technology allows the car to actively disregard driver commands entirely and make its own decisions.

This may seem similar to auto-brake technology already available in cars today, which applies the brakes if the driver fails to do so. But with driver override systems, cars will have more control of vehicular operation. The car will be capable of applying the brakes even if the driver has the gas pedal floored. It may also avoid a collision by changing lanes even if the driver has the vehicle going straight ahead. Thanks to the rapid increase in sensor technology such safety technology is not so far-fetched.

Internet Connectivity
In the next few years, the idea of buying a car without built-in Internet will be as absurd as buying a smartphone without LTE today. The idea of vehicle connectivity has paved the way for a more connected driving experience. Internet connectivity significantly improves in-car entertainment and we’ve begun to see that with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, internet-enabled IVIs today still rely on the Internet connection of mobile devices.

In the future, vehicles themselves will have their own independent internet connection to give drivers access to music streaming, navigation, voice commands/virtual assistants, news updates, cloud data storage and so much more. Of course, this technology is currently still in its infancy, but expect it to come hand-in-hand with future connected car technology such as V2V, V2I and V2D.  Learn more about vehicle connectivity by reading our connected car article here.

In-Car Marketing & Shopping
Along with Internet accessibility comes smart and personalized in-car marketing and shopping. Smart ads have already taken over the Internet, and this technology will work in a similar way. Just as you get personalized Facebook, Twitter and Gmail ads based on your online behavior and website visits, your vehicle will display ads based on driving behavior, location, routes taken and even your daily schedule. Analytic engines will be able to learn your driving behavior and daily route in order to present you with relevant advertising.

For instance, if you stop at a Starbucks every morning, you may receive coffee promotions and even a suggestion to order your coffee before your arrival. The same analytics engine will be able to scrub through texts and calls, analyze content and suggest products online all through the infotainment system. Such technology will provide marketers with a powerful set of metrics to personalize their marketing messages. Let’s just hope this technology will present itself as an opt-in feature, with companies providing exclusive discounts in return.

Reconfigurable Body Panels 
What if you could enjoy various vehicle body types and colors by simply reconfiguring your vehicle’s body panels? With technological innovations becoming more customer-centric and automakers focusing on customization, such a vehicle may soon be a possibility. Toyota revealed such a concept with their ME.WE and Fun Vii concept cars.

The 5-door hatchback ME.WE features reconfigurable body panels such as the doors, hood, roof and more – all engineered to be reconfigured and transformed. This technology allows drivers to adapt their vehicle to environmental challenges on the go with no hassle, transforming the vehicle into a convertible or even a pickup truck. Take a look at the different body type possibilities below:

As for Toyota’s Fun VII, the vehicle makes use of touch-sensitive LED display panels inside and out, allowing the driver to change the car's "paint job" with the touch of a button. This technology not only allows for a personalized display on the outside, but is also outfitted with vehicle communication technology to connect with roadways, infrastructure and other cars. Interior panels display all kinds of augmented-reality information while you're driving—navigation is projected on the windshield and the car can link up with other vehicles in the area to share traffic data and more. Here’s a quick look at what such technology has to offer:

Wireless Charging
With electric cars becoming increasingly available from numerous automakers, various charging technology will be needed. Future EV charging will go completely wireless, whether through inductive or solar panel technology. Already well into development at many OEMs, wireless charging does away with plugs and leads and instead uses “charging pads” to charge electric vehicles. Charging pads will be built into the road at traffic stops and parking spaces, allowing EV owners to top up their vehicles on the go. 


Solar panels, on the other hand, have proven to be difficult with current photovoltaic cell technology. A few years ago, automaker Fisker provided a solar panel roof on their now failed Fisker Karma, but the updated Fisker Revero and second-generation Toyota Prius Plug-in will come standard with advanced and effective solar roofs. Within upcoming years, with some minor tweaks here and there, wireless EV charging will become a standard and will boost EV sales by offering improved battery range and driving convenience.

Holographic Display
Holographic technology is already being developed and is starting to be used in quite a few industries already. Holographic displays have not made their automotive debut, however, a few automakers have already showcased holograms in their concept cars such as Lexus, BMW, Volvo and Bentley. One of the more impressive holographic displays is from BMW. BMW’s i Inside Future concept car presented the HoloActive Touch system, an evolution of the Gesture Control system currently found in the flagship BMW 7-Series.

Holographic displays are made up of four main components: A mirror display providing the hologram, an LCD screen below reflecting an image, a gesture camera tracking finger position and finally ultrasonic arrays providing the driver with haptic feedback. You may think holographic technology would be a gimmick for cars, but like gesture controls, it provides the driver with less cluttered center consoles making way for better infotainment designs. Take a look at the HoloActive Touch system in action:



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