Car technology is moving faster than it ever has, with firms continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Currently, motoring is one of the key future car tech battlegrounds, with drivers expecting and demanding more and more on both old and new vehicles.
Sony’s decision to build its own car for the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) highlighted just how big a role car technology is going to play in the next decade.
While the Sony Vision-S itself is simply a test bed and a promotional tool, CES showcased how differing techs have made greater progress than expected – while some have been knocked back. Here’s our guide to the latest state of progress on key features.
Dashboards without a single button
Due 2022: Speech recognition company Cerence (formerly Nuance) has been working with manufacturers for years; its tech supports the ‘Hey Mercedes’ feature in MBUX. It demonstrated a system at CES that mixed speech commands, gesture control and eye tracking to leave no need for physical switches at all. It’s still two years off production – but it’s coming.
5G-based warnings for pedestrians
Due 2022: 5G is going to speed up our mobile phones’ data connection. But Harman used CES to show that cars will be able to use the ultra-fast bandwidth to check for obstacles in their path – and to ping a warning to other road users, pedestrians or cyclists who are in the way. The tech is called Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) and it’ll be on production cars from 2022.
Due 2022: Bosch won an award at CES for its digital sun visor, which darkens the top of the windscreen in selected areas to avoid glare from the sun.
Sensors, sensors and yet more sensors
Due 2022: Sony made the Vision-S because it wanted to show off its expertise in sensors and the software that interprets their data. Within the next two years, it seems inevitable that cars of the Vision-S’s size will have not just radar and stereo cameras, but also some limited Lidar capability that will help the vehicle to better judge the world around it.
Due 2025: In theory, solid-state batteries are more energy-dense than lithium-ion units and easier to charge more quickly. But the expectation that the new format would take over by the middle of this new decade has dimmed. BMW tech boss Klaus Fröhlich told us at CES, “Lithium-ion cells have progressed so well that they’ve pushed solid-state back. It’s 2025 to 2030 now, really.”
‘Targeted’ climate control systems
Due 2025: Car tech giant Valeo used CES to show a ventilation system that uses face-recognition and infra-red cameras to judge how warm each passenger is and adjust settings accordingly. It’s said to be much more efficient than normal air-conditioning.
Due 2030: Manufacturers are facing up to the huge cost of developing fully self-driving cars. Even Level 3 (where the driver has to be ready to intervene) is taking longer than anticipated. While the Audi AI:ME was designed with an eye on full automation, there is no realistic date for when cars will do the driving.
What technology would you like to see on the cars in the future?