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