Smart Car or Smart Highway? The Race for the Future of Driving
No industry is safe from technological developments, certainly not the automotive one. This, of course, is an industry that is always looking to modernise, whether it involves more efficient fuel systems or improved safety features.
The use of digital technologies to improve the driving experience, however, is a relatively new development. Firstly, cars are beginning to embrace data to give their manufacturers more insight and to help drivers behind the wheel. Secondly, the roads themselves are taking a similar approach to boost driver safety. As both methods gain greater widespread adoption, the world of driving is likely to change forever.
How are cars getting smarter?
Modern cars are primarily getting smarter by using more data than ever before. On-board computer systems can collect information about the road surface, surrounding hazards and the driver. What’s more, the amount of data being collected is only likely to increase. In the not-too-distant future, it is highly plausible that cars could communicate with one another on the road, informing them of when a driver is changing lanes or letting other vehicles know about upcoming hazards. The more information that car manufacturers have, the safer their products will become.
The natural extension of these smart vehicles is the self-driving car. While it will still be some years before autonomous vehicles gain widespread adoption, they have already undergone many miles of testing, sometimes on public roads. As this technology develops, it could completely eliminate human error from the roads, and with it the cause of many accidents. Technology firms like Google, Apple and Tesla have all been confirmed, or are rumoured, to be developing their own self-driving car, but they will also have to compete with long-established automobile firms. The battle for supremacy on the roads of the future will certainly make for an interesting business spectacle.
What makes a highway smart?
Smart highways probably do not capture the public attention quite as much as self-driving cars, but they remain an important development. Smart roads will be fitted with a number of sensors that will tell local councils and urban planners about the amount of traffic at any given point and its environmental impact.
Future developments promise even greater innovation. The roads of the future could ultimately be used to charge electric cars as they travel over them, while smart lighting could save energy by only turning on as vehicles approach. It is impossible to predict exactly what the future will hold, but it’s sure to be exciting.
Making the roads a safer place
One of the major advantages of both intelligent vehicles and smart highways is a reduction in the number of accidents. Both will create vast quantities of data that will help car manufacturers and urban planners alike to create safer vehicles and journeys. Both technological developments will also provide clearer accountability when incidents do occur, something that lawyers for car accident victims will also welcome. The data created by new automotive technologies, when combined with the wider Internet of Things, will also deliver benefits that cannot be conceived at this present moment.
Of course, neither smart cars nor roads will completely eliminate the dangers of driving, but even a small safety improvement will make a significant difference to many people’s lives.