It won’t be long before your car becomes the ultimate mobile device, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
More devices than a jet- fi ghter.
THINK of cars as a method of transport? Think again.
In as little as four years they could be considered ‘‘ the ultimate mobile device’’ connected to the internet, able to locate destinations and designed to talk to other cars to prevent accidents.
Experts predict by 2030 most Australian cars will feature technology commonly seen in jet fighters and robots.
The technology could see cars hit the brakes to avoid a hazard, choose music to suit the driver’s mood or identify pedestrians by body heat.
Some of these advances are creeping into our vehicles, from technology that monitors driver fatigue, to speed warnings projected on the windscreen and, in its most accessible form, GPS.
Fresh in- car technology forecasts emerged recently when Siemens launched its Picture of the Future: Australia 2030 study.
Research head Chris Vains says Australia has the potential to have the safest roads in the world by 2030 if carmakers and drivers embrace technology.
High- end European cars, for example, already feature head- up displays once only seen in jet fighters.
These additions project a car’s speed, engine and map information on to the windscreen but they could be used for more in future by identifying road issues.
‘‘ It’s more than just telling you where you are on a map it will also tell you if you’re near hazards or if you are speeding,’’ Vains says.
‘‘ Where we see it going in the next five years is that it will be implemented in most cars and the cars that use them will be able to take over and bring down the speed if necessary.’’
He says road safety could be further enhanced once cars were equipped with sensors to send messages to other vehicles around them, something due by 2030.
‘‘ What we’re talking about here is information that can be passed between cars,’’ he says. ‘‘ If you’re driving behind another vehicle and a dog runs out in front of that car, for example, a built- in controller could take over and brake for you.’’
While researching the study, Vains says he discovered the Federal Government had already reserved radio bandwidth for sending traffic warnings to road users.
Gartner automotive industry analyst Thilo Koslowski says the ability for cars to communicate with road infrastructure could prevent accidents and improve traffic flow.
‘‘ Imagine your stop- light communicating with you based on where you are and what is behind you,’’ he says.
‘‘ It could tell you to slow down rather than coming to a complete stop so you can drive through an intersection.’’
To receive these messages or look up destinations, cars would need to be connected to the internet, something Koslowski says is being investigated.
‘‘ The car is really the ultimate mobile device. You’re really mobile in your car, more than when you’re just walking around with your phone,’’ he says.
‘‘ By 2016 most consumers in mature markets like Australia will start to expect these features.’’
The car will also be granted the power to operate autonomously, changing radio stations when it senses signs of driver aggravation or fatigue and potentially monitoring a vehicle’s speed.
Many of these advances threatened traditional GPS devices, already under attack from smartphone apps. But Tomtom Australia managing director Chris Kearney says he expects Australians to buy more than one million of the navigators this year.