HERALD­ING CARS OF THE FU­TURE

For 2015, the lat­est buzz­words in the au­to­mo­tive world is ADAS (Ad­vanced Driver As­sis­tance Sys­tems) and the re­turn of hy­dro­gen.

HWM (Singapore) - - THINK - by Kenny Yeo

Cars pow­ered by hy­dro­gen are not new. In 2002, Honda’s FCX be­came the first hy­dro­gen fuel-cell car in the world to be cer­ti­fied by the U.S. EPA (En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency) for com­mer­cial use. Hy­dro­gen pow­ered cars use hy­dro­gen com­bined with oxy­gen to pro­duce elec­tric­ity to power an elec­tric mo­tor that in turns pro­vides mo­tive force to the car. Im­pres­sively, the only byprod­uct of this chem­i­cal re­ac­tion is wa­ter. And th­ese cars could be re­fu­eled like regular cars sim­ply by vis­it­ing a hy­dro­gen pump sta­tion. How­ever, de­spite the many benefits of hy­dro­gen cars, they never quite took off for var­i­ous rea­sons. Har­vest­ing hy­dro­gen proves to be an ex­pen­sive and tricky process and de­vel­op­ing hy­dro­gen pow­ered cars is no sim­ple feat ei­ther.

But de­spite the chal­lenges, Toy­ota has an­nounced the Mi­rai, its own hy­dro­gen pow­ered car, and plans to sell 700 of it glob­ally this year. The Mi­rai is a 4-door sedan and re­fu­el­ing it takes about five min­utes - com­pa­ra­ble to tra­di­tional gaso­line-pow­ered ve­hi­cles. When fu­eled, it has a range of about 480 km. To help hy­dro­gen cars take off, Toy­ota is also al­low­ing its com­peti­tors ac­cess to its in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of around 5,600 re­lated patents. Cur­rently, Honda, Gen­eral Mo­tors, and Nis­san are said to be ex­am­in­ing hy­dro­gen fuel-cells to power their cars of the fu­ture.

Hy­dro­gen cars aside, one thing that we are go­ing to see more of from cars of the fu­ture is ADAS (Ad­vanced Driver As­sis­tance Sys­tems). Broadly put, ADAS refers to tech­nolo­gies that will make driv­ing both eas­ier and safer. Hyundai painted a fu­ture where its cars could park it­self, nav­i­gate it­self through nar­row streets, de­tect pedes­tri­ans and even an­a­lyze traf­fic in­ter­sec­tions and brake au­to­mat­i­cally if it deems it is un­safe to pro­ceed. How­ever, do­ing so re­quires lots of com­put­ing power, so NVIDIA wasted no time in an­nounc­ing its new DrivePX su­per­com­puter for the car. Pow­ered by the com­pany’s new Te­gra X1 pro­ces­sor, the DrivePX aims to be the brain for the car’s sys­tems, al­low­ing them to drive them­selves au­tonomously. Al­ready, Audi has ex­pressed its com­mit­ment to us­ing NVIDIA’s DrivePX plat­form in its cars.

That is the fu­ture. For now, au­tomak­ers are look­ing at ways to make it eas­ier for driv­ers to in­ter­act with their cars and to make cars smarter. Ford’s Sync 3 in-car in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem can re­ceive sys­tem up­dates such as the lat­est maps via Wi-Fi. Volk­swa­gen also showed off its new ges­ture con­trol sys­tem, with the ul­ti­mate goal be­ing the elim­i­na­tion of all phys­i­cal switches. Th­ese are ex­cit­ing times for the auto in­dus­try as it seeks to en­ter a new age. Though many of th­ese con­cepts are still in their in­fancy, we fully ex­pect things to progress ex­po­nen­tially in the next few years as more com­pa­nies throw their weight be­hind th­ese new tech­nolo­gies and

plat­forms.

"TO HELP HY­DRO­GEN CARS TAKE OFF, TOY­OTA IS ALSO AL­LOW­ING ITS COM­PETI­TORS AC­CESS TO ITS IN­TEL­LEC­TUAL PROP­ERTY OF AROUND 5,600 RE­LATED PATENTS.”

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