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7/30/2014
12:32 PM
David Wagner
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Smarter Cars: 9 Tech Trends

Can your car wake you up if you get sleepy behind the wheel? Or recommend a good Mexican restaurant? These nine technologies will soon change the way we think about cars.
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The convergence of two technological trends -- the Internet of Things and the quest for the self-driving car -- is changing the way cars are being made. New sensor technologies are driving a revolution in the way we interact with our beloved cars, how safe they are, and even how fuel efficient they can be. Pretty soon, it will be hard to tell who is smarter -- the car or the driver.

That's probably OK with most drivers. People seem to love their cars like family. This survey shows that over half of British drivers name their car. The most popular name for a car in Britain? Betty. IWeek's own Susan Nunziata named her car Mabel. The funny thing is that as cars become more automated and more connected to our lives, we're only going to get closer to them. The next time a Mabel or a Betty swerves to avoid oncoming traffic, she's going to seem more like a friend than ever.

Cars are also going to get more social and even take on a personality as they become more connected to our lives. The first time Harrison (a common name for Fords) reminds his driver to pick up an anniversary gift, you can bet he's going to get rewarded with a nice wash and wax.

All of this is predicated on an increasing interconnectedness between cars, drivers, and the world around them. Your car is going to be packed with an increasing number of cameras, sensors, and networking gear that will allow it to not only see and measure the world around it, but to tap into what other cars and nearby objects are seeing. Imagine your car knowing that a child has run into the street right around the corner, because another car saw the child first.

So not only are Betty and Harrison going to talk to you, but they're also going to be talking to Mabel. All of this is going to lead to changes in the way we drive. Click on to see nine technologies that are going to make your current car look like a Model T.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 6:43:36 PM
Re: External airbags
@David:  i would expect replacing the airbags across a whole car could be several thousand dollars.

This is true, though that is also what it cost me in repairs when my car (not dear Mabel) encountered an automobile-eating pole in our office parking lot.

While life and limb were unharmed, the car sustained absurdly expensive damage. Perhaps a less costly shield could be created for those low-impact situations for drivers like me who have, er, spatial reasoning challenges?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 6:40:17 PM
Re: External airbags
@Kristen-I had the same thought reading about those external airbags. If those popped out on a car near me I'd probably have a heart attack and cause a far worse accident. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 5:55:49 PM
Re: Talking not just to me ...
@Lorna- Probably. Considering several insurance companies have already started voluntary programs using sensors to judge driving, I can imagine they'd want to expand the program. But interestingly, as cars get better at avoiding accidents for us, it will matter less and less to insurance companies how we drive. 

And actually consider this-- If Google starts driving my car 24/7, whjy should i carry insurance? Shouldn't Google? They're driving.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 4:12:58 PM
Talking not just to me ...
Do you think these cars are also going to be talking to insurance companies, at some point, with or without the owner's permission? 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 3:44:39 PM
Re: External airbags
@Kristin Burnham- That's certainly one of the issues, but with accident avoidance sensors in every car (hopefully in the near future) it changes the equation.

Imagine a situation where every car within the range of an accident knows what is happening. Some cars realize they can't avoid the accident (maybe a car slid on ice or something). Those cars deploy the airbags. Some cars realize they can avoid it based on the signals from the various cars, Those cars use assisted braking to stop.

And those few cars that can't totally avoid it, but can slow down a lot can bounce harmlessly off the external airbags. 

My biggesr concern is the expense. When an airbag goes off in a car now, it is a several hundred dollar repair. i would expect replacing the airbags across a whole car could be several thousand dollars. You'd have to make sure they only deployed when the property damage or hazard to life warranted the deployment. 
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 3:26:27 PM
External airbags
While I see the intention, I just can't imagine external airbags would be safe for surrounding cars trying to avoid an accident.
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