Doesn’t the auto industry get involved in new technology? If so, what’s on the horizon?
Yes, and there are so many examples that we couldn’t cover all of them in one blog. Like smart phones, vehicles are constantly becoming “smarter” and doing so much more for the driver to keep you safe, anticipate accidents, and upgrade technology. So here are some highlights:
- Volvo is piloting keyless ignitions.
- Volvo is also working on self-driving vehicles which we’ve written about previously .
- There are continuous advances in plug-in, zero-emission and hybrid vehicles. For example, the Toyota Prius announced that the hybrid system components are now smaller and lighter. That includes the electric motor, transaxle, hybrid battery and power control unit.
- Toyota has also redesigned the 1.8-liter gasoline engine shrinking its size and weight , while increasing fuel economy by 10%.
- Toyota is working on a Safety Sense system, which includes radar cruise control and a pre-collision system that detects both vehicles and pedestrians.
Toyota’s New Battery Breakthrough
It’s been many years since there have been improvements in battery technology. One of the most exciting improvements is new advances in battery technology from Toyota. New technology means more compact battery packs allowing them to fit under the rear seat and increasing cargo space. Toyota made a major breakthrough this year in magnesium battery technology that promises a lighter, safer, less expensive battery with a longer life.
Automotive Technology Conference at MIT
In May, MIT hosted the 6th Annual Automotive Technology Conference focusing on technology and design. The greatest minds in the automotive industry presented at this conference, including Gill Pratt, Ph.D., CEO of the Toyota Research Institute and graduate
of MIT. He is working to bridge the gap between scientific research and product development. The Toyota Research Institute has a special interest in robotics.
The Automotive Technology Conference focused on the following:
- What will self-driving vehicles look like in the future (something Volvo has been working on in Europe)?
- What new materials will be used to manufacture vehicles?
- Will the dashboard always contain the same buttons and gauges?
- What designs will appeal to Baby Boomers, Millennials and Generation Zs?
- Does technology determine design or does design determine technology?
Given the number of accidents per day and the aging population who want to maintain their independence by driving, Pratt focused on the following at the MIT Conference: “As far as future vehicles are concerned, we’re looking at two solutions, one I call ‘The Chauffeur,’ which would be the Google car, a Level 4 or 5 self-driving vehicle. You get in and tell the car where you want to go and sit back. It will have to be awfully good. The alternative is what we’re already seeing, the complementary safety systems we’re calling Guardian Angels. You’re still in control as these systems operate in parallel with you and jump in at the last minute. Think of something like ABS on steroids .
“The Chauffeur system is all or nothing for the car. Humans’ driving skills would erode. The car does 100 percent of the work and the manufacturer has the liability. There’s one big question of how or when the human gets an alert to take over or if he even can. And another question is how the driver can use the time in the car. A Level 4 system should be so good you can go to sleep [while the car does the driving]. The Guardian Angel results in more driving pleasure with the system taking over less than 1 percent. Liability remains mostly with the driver. And there’s no big handover problem .” (As reported by Bill Griffith, The Boston Globe Automotive columnist.)
Both Toyota and Volvo have been world leaders in technology and safety for many year, but they don’t rest on their laurels! They continually strive toward advancements with the goal of safer vehicles. To see the technology in these vehicles, please visit us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota.