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Hybrid power, active aero and kinetic energy recovery systems. They all seemed rather out-of-this world only a few years ago. Motorsport has used this tech for many years and as manufacturers develop it to become economical enough for mass-produced cars, we’re the winners. But what about the future? What about tech other than the powertrain? Does new tech make driving safer or humans lazier? In this blog, we look at some of the current car technology and look to the future at what you might see in your hire car in the coming years.

Cars that stop for you

Car technology: automatic brakingPhoto by: chesky/Adobe Stock
Not long ago, if you glanced away from the road for a split-second and a vehicle crossed your path, a collision was unavoidable. Thanks to fancy cameras and radars, many of the large manufacturers now offer automatic emergency braking as standard. This feature can detect a potential collision. It warns the driver in advance and can apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond. This, in conjunction with adaptive cruise control, could help us to avoid many of the common rear-end collisions that occur on motorways during rush hour. Do you think this will cause drivers to become too relaxed and distracted while driving?

Stay connected

Car technology: car wi-fi hotspotPhoto by: zapp2photo/Adobe Stock
You may have heard of creating a “hotspot” using your phone, now you can create a “hotspot” with your car! WiFi / 4G connectivity essentially transforms your car into a portable network. Connect as many devices as you like to the network. You have to pay for the data you use, much like a mobile phone contract. It means your passengers can stream music, video and browse online without using the data of their mobile device. The likes of Audi, BMW, Vauxhall and more now offer this as an extra on their newer vehicles. Catch up on Game of Thrones on the way to the Croatia filming locations!

Night vision

It looks like an espionage-spy-thriller (you know who we’re talking about), but night vision is no longer limited to the movies. We’ve all been there, driving down a dark country B-road and out of nowhere a deer runs across your path. You’re thinking “where did that come from?”. With thermal imaging, vehicles can show you what you can’t see. The small screen in the instrument cluster displays the outline of an animal. You can now be aware of its presence and will be ready to act should it burst out from the verge. Spot the kangaroo before it jumps out on your Australian road trip!

Cars talking to cars… and traffic lights

Car technology: cars sharing informationPhoto by: zapp2photo/Adobe Stock
We’re not going mad, honest. Soon there will be a time where all cars will feature some kind of autonomy, so who’s actually in control? Vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is exactly what it says. It allows vehicles to communicate with other vehicles on the road. This creates safer journeys for road users. It’s not only limited to other vehicles but traffic lights. If you’re not driving, who applies the brakes at the red light? In its current use, V2V helps cars send information, such as traffic and weather conditions for the road ahead to similar vehicles with the same technology.

Keys… or lack of!

Car technology: Mobile entry, keyless entryPhoto by: chombosan/Adobe Stock
Bluetooth in cars has been around for almost two decades, in fact the first hands-free car kit was released in 2001! It’s evolved from simply taking calls, to streaming music, navigation and vehicle settings via mobile apps. More developments in the future point towards smartphones replacing car keys. Cars will detect your mobile using Bluetooth and unlock your car. Expect to see this feature in upcoming Volvos! How do you feel about replacing your keys with your phone?

A car that can park and drive itself?

Car technology: parking assistancePhoto by: chesky/Adobe Stock
This year, the news has been full of autonomous vehicles. It’s a technology we can’t avoid, our lives are becoming busier and busier. Commuters catch-up on work while on the tube and bus, but what about commuters that drive? The goal for autonomous cars must ultimately be for people to eat breakfast, read the news, and even work while on the move. For now though, we’re in a world where cars automatically keep a safe distance from the car in front using adaptive cruise control. We’re also being embarrassed by our cars. They can effortlessly parallel park on streets that took us years to perfect. Those tight parking spaces in Italy will soon be a doddle!

Driver “profiles”

This one is a bit further away. Imagine whatever car you get into has your preferred radio station, ambient lighting and seating position already set. Rental or personal vehicle. Sounds great doesn’t it? This is exactly what VW are developing; an electronic profile to take everywhere with you. Whether you’re taking a trip to the shops in the UK or exploring the Algarve in your hire car, your seat will always be how you like it.

Last but not least, electric vehicles

Car technology: electric vehiclesPhoto by: chesky/Adobe Stock
Electric vehicles are not as new as you may think. However electric vehicles that are practical on modern roads are new. Following a peak of electric car sales in the early 1900s, the 1920s saw the discovery of vast petroleum reserves. This all but ended the electric car. It wasn’t until the late-2000s and developments with lithium-ion batteries, that the electric car truly became a viable option. Since 2010, with pressure from governments and environmental groups increasing, more and more electric vehicles have been appearing on our roads. How long before electric vehicles become the norm for rental cars? Do you see electric vehicles as a positive for the environment or do they mask the carbon emissions of battery manufacturing plants?

Car technology

What’s your view on the future of motoring? What are you looking forward to that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below. Get your car hire quote today, no Teslas in sight I’m afraid!

Written by Shaun Curtis.

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