It won’t be long be­fore your car be­comes the ul­ti­mate mo­bile de­vice, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Nicholson

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.

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