CES 2020’s display of futuristic cars and new vehicle technology developments reveals the extent to which the driving experience is set to be safer, more entertaining, and more ergonomic than ever before. Cars such as as the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, which has no steering wheel and which relies on biometrics to detect a driver’s pulse and breathing rate, have revealed that future cars will be monitoring human performance far more closely than in the past, reducing the likelihood of distraction, sleepiness behind the wheel, and other behaviors that pose a risk to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Of course, safety is just one consideration when it comes to new tech. Many other new developments are focused on efficiency, practicality and comfort.
Brands like Hyundai are seeking to harness the power of the sun to give electric cars a boost when it comes to extra mileage. This brand’s new Sonata, for instance, has a solar roof that adds about two miles of EV range to the vehicle daily when parked beneath the sun. This can amount to a total of around 500 solar/electric miles per year, or 10,000 miles in a vehicle’s lifetime.
Dutch startup Light Year, meanwhile, unveiled a prototype for what they deem the first car powered exclusively by solar energy. The vehicle’s roof and hood comprise 5m² of integrated solar cells, which are encased in ultra-powerful glass.
The latest trend in electric vehicle technology involves the use of high voltage architecture. The shift began when Porsche debuted the 800-volt system in its Taycan sedan. The 800-volt evolution reduces EV charging times.
Automated Valet Parking
Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have devised an automated valet system that was recently given the okay for installment in public garages. The system allows you to drive to your chosen drop-off point at the entrance of the car park, step outside your car, and use a smartphone app to send your car to an available parking space. The system relies on sensors and cameras that identify empty spaces and enable the vehicle to avoid collisions with drivers. Because nobody needs to open any doors to get out, the vehicle can fit into significantly tighter spaces.
Adaptive suspension, pioneered by Cadillac, is fast becoming a key consideration for sports car lovers, since it allows vehicles to react significantly more quickly than traditional suspension systems. Sports car drivers know that suspension needs vary vastly depending on the road and driving conditions. A good suspension system can make driving a sports car more pleasurable, adding to the comfort of the experience and enabling drivers to steer their car more efficiently as road conditions vary. Whereas regular suspensions have fixed dampers and set damping rates, adaptive suspensions possess features such as cameras that scan the road. They can also be changed by the driver to suit their personal preferences. For instance, if the driver knows that there are a series of corners they wish to negotiate quickly, they can choose the sports mode to stiffen dampers. Conversely, if they are driving on straight roads, they can opt for a more pliant damper setting.
High-end car manufacturers have made great strides in improving comfort, with features such as seats with heating, massage functions, and ultra-responsive adjusting systems enabling drivers to find just the right level of comfort. Recently, however, Renault unveiled a concept car that reveals the extent to which cars can be personalized so as to boost comfort and practicality. The vehicle, called Morphoz, is an electric car with an extendable body that can be changed from a shorter form (for city driving) to a longer one (for the ultimate comfort seeker’s road trip). The car extends from 4.40 to 4.80 meters, offering passengers a more spacious interior with greater legroom and space for two more suitcases.
Car technology has continued to evolve in 2020, with manufacturers working on exciting concepts such as extendable and solar cars. Today, new launches already have many features, such as self-parking and semi-autonomous functions, that boost safety and comfort. In the future, connected and autonomous cars will be leading the way, but they will undoubtedly come with many unexpected features catered to everyone from eco-friendly drivers to those who love nothing better than a road trip in style.