Throughout the past few months, I have posted a variety of blog posts that focus primarily on technology and the digital era entirely. I am pretty sure it goes without saying, technology has evolved… and quite dramatically. My goal in this post, however, is to discuss how technology has evolved in traveling, specifically in cars. Airplanes are cool, trains are convenient, subways, well there isn’t even cell phone service on subways (lol), but cars… Cars are everywhere! It is insane to consider a time when carriages on horseback carried our ancestors around town. Well, what is even crazier to ponder is what we might see in the future of cars!
To start us off slowly, (I don’t want your jaws to drop too quickly now) let’s take a blast into the past. In order to stay on topic, that is the future of technology in automobiles, here is a brief black and white image of the history of cars, alongside a timeline of key automobile innovations and a spectacular infographic of the history of cars.
Starting with just blueprints in the 1800s, perfected in Germany and France, Americans soon took over the automobile industry in the twentieth century. Henry Ford is a big deal in all this, because he was the man who innovated mass-production techniques, eventually being the “standard” for automobile manufacturing. Have you ever heard of “The Big Three” auto companies, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler? Well, look how far we’ve come! An article on History.com, found here gives an in depth description of how the automobile industry really evolved and a cool video. Henry Ford’s Model T, anticipated to be a “farmer’s car,” grew in popularity. Because this industry played a large role in producing military and war vehicles during World War I and II, the automobile industry went international! According to the article, as of 1980, 87.2% of American households owned one or more motor vehicles. It was official, Americans became truly auto-dependent.
CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO: HISTORY OF AUTOMOBILES
Enough about the past, let’s talk future, lets talk technology! As almost all Americans will agree, Google is a powerful source, especially in the digital world. People use Google to find out anything they want to know and Google will do it quickly. They also provide our nation with tons of useful products like Google Maps, Google News, Google Alerts, Google Books, YouTube, and so many more applications we don’t even realize Google takes part in. But, did you ever think Google would be driving your cars, well technically now they can.
The Google Self-Driving Car has been working to create technology for autonomous cars (specifically electric cars). An important person in this process, Sebastian Thrun, a Google engineer, is leading the Google Self-Driving project. Currently, four states (Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan) and Washington D.C. are allowing driverless cars.
Below you will find a visual of the key parts of the Google driverless car.
The LiDar, a Velodyne 64-beam laser, provides the vehicle with a detailed 3D map of its surroundings. Using these maps coupled with maps of the world, the Google driverless car produces types of data models that allow it to drive itself.
This futuristic vehicle is outstanding! In an article written on Daily Mail News, Caroline Graham writes “Its curved edges are practical as well as visually appealing, designed to allow the lasers, sensors and cameras mounted on top of the car in a rotating casing known as a ‘lidar’ to have optimal vision around the vehicle.” (SOURCE)
As unsafe as this project sounds, there are awesome technologies involved that help ensure the drivers’ safety. The car will always drive at the speed limit that it has stored on its maps and will maintain a safe distance away from other vehicles with the help of its distance sensors. If the driver decides that they want to take the wheel, all they have to do is literally take the wheel. By stepping on the brakes or turning the wheel, the human driver takes control of the car. Let’s be a witness to this project:
It might seem quite surreal, but on May 28th, 2014 Google presented their prototype of the driverless car that did not include a steering wheel nor pedals. This prototype followed the announcement of almost 700,000 accident-free autonomous miles in test drives of the Google driverless car.
Take caution: The latest prototype cannot handle heavy ran or snow-covered roads and often moves incredibly slow during 4-way stops. Another limitation includes their ability to avoid discerning objects (trash and debris). The biggest limitation I think, the LiDAR cannot spot humans or potholes.
I created an infographic to display the public opinion about the driverless automobile.
Here is an additional infographic that I did not create myself!
Be honest, you are so excited to give this thing a try! Well, Google founder Sergey Brin stated in 2012 that the Google Self-Driving car will be available for the public in 2017… We’ll just have to wait our turn.
According to an article in The New York Times, soon enough new laws will be required if driverless cars become a reality. This is because “the technology is now advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law, some of which dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages.” (SOURCE)
Here is a great article with some videos of this new technology in action! Also, if you want to see some of the cars that have tried this new technology, as well as each cars’ letter grade… take a look here!
On the contrary, Chunka Mul released an article on Forbes.com that reveals five reasons why automakers should be afraid of the Google Driverless Car. This point of view is evidently from a business prospective, but I think it is extremely important to consider. Below are some images of the 5 reasons that Chunka Mul gives to his readers… but I advise you read more here.
Mark Harris also provides some good evidence for why the Google Driverless Car could be quite dangerous for our society. In his article titled, FBI warns driverless cars could be used as ‘lethal weapons,’ he tells his readers why the FBI is afraid of this “spectacular” ability to multi-task while driving. He writes, “One nightmare scenario could be suspects shooting at pursuers from getaway cars that are driving themselves.” (SOURCE) The FBI is deeply afraid of the many ways Google’s driverless car can be used as lethal weapons by criminals all over the globe. They fear the ability to override safety features and avoid traffic lights/stop signs or even the far-fetched fear of terrorism being able to create self-driving bombs!
Nevertheless, the Google team strongly believes that driverless cars will eventually cut the number of road deaths in half!
After discovering so much about how advancing technology can actually make automobiles drive themselves, I looked further into the future of cars! I spoke with Raymond, a sales person at the Mercedes Car Dealership in New Rochelle, New York.
In this nonstop growing digital era, we find that large portions of our lives are spent on social media. Because it is clear that social media is growing at a rapid rate, I was curious about how cars might become “socially connected.” In pursuing my curiosity about this, I found out that cars are going to be social vehicles in the near future.
A blogpost on Gigaom, titled Social Networked Cars: The Future of Connected Vehicles?, reveals work created by students at the University of Michigan teamed up with Ford, Microsoft and Intel, that indicates “there will be as many innovative social applications connected us in our vehicles as there are on our Internet-connected laptops.” (SOURCE)
The future of cars being socially integrated can best be supported by a recent technology, one that will soon be available in most cars, Apple CarPlay. The future of technology is turning a simple music-making machine into an infotainment console. Technology has allowed drivers to use touch-screen capabilities, navigation systems, backup camera monitors, Bluetooth speakerphone, and some more similar features. An article on Digital Trends says, “for as fancy as today’s car stereos are, however, there’s one nut they’ve yet to crack: how to keep drivers’ eyes off of their phones and on the road.” (SOURCE) Apple CarPlay is iOS for your cars’ dashboard. This technology will place popular iPhone functions on the screen in your dashboard, integrate voice control and Siri activation codes and create a safe, socially capable drive. Check out this demo on YouTube to get an idea how it really works.
An article found in the New York Times titled “Social Networking for Cars,” demonstrates how an app called the “Auto”matic Blog can tap into available data on a car so that the car can actually send out its own tweets. Using data such as location, speed, acceleration and braking as well as information from windshield wipers, steering input, live web and GPS data, a car can now send out a Twitter entry. For instance, with real-time traffic information such as stop-and-go braking and weather forecasts, like rain ahead, a twitter entry can be sent that reads: “Stuck in traffic; not looking forward to next 50 miles, either.”
EMarketer released an interview with Michael Deitz, Senior Group Manager of Connected Car and Owner Marketing for Hyundai Motor America.
It is clear that the connectivity of cars in various networks will grow to become part of our everyday lives. Well, I don’t want to go on for too much longer… Because, as you all know, technology is growing faster and faster each and every day!