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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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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:25:51 PM
Re: Smarter Cars: 9 Tech Trends
However, the idea of having a driverless car is one that I don't think I will ever reconcile myself with. Automated? Maybe, but never driverless. Not even Google (they are trying out driverless cars by the way) can predict everything and design a car that can handle all that so human intuition and instinct will always have an edge!

@sachinEE- It is interesting. I generally feel the same way, and yet Americans alone have about 11 million car accidents per year. Most drivers will be involved in multiple car accidents in their lifetime.

I am constantly amazed by the human brain and intuition. But the brain can only act on what it can see. Connected cars will be able to see farther down the road than a person. They'll be able to see what other cars are doing, sometimes before they start doing it. Self-driving cars will never eliminate accidents. Mechanical failures, environmental surprises (ice, nails on the road, etc), and software failures will still cause accidents.

But I'm guessing human intuition eventually gets beaten by extending the knowledge of the car beyond the point of human ability.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 12:17:14 PM
Re: All this technology is well and good...
Fantastic point. We've already seen the cost of cars more than double in the past 20 years due to the cost of all safety equipment. Additionally, we've seen insurance costs increase since a car in an accident today will generally have several thousand dollar repair costs due to air bags,crumple-zones etc. Adding all this tech will keep this trend alive. Want a new economy car? That'll be a $30k starting price.

I have stated on here many times - just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we should. We need to pay attention to the unintended consequences (people no longer paying attention to the road expecting the car to do it). People already sue over idiotic things like "my coffee was hot so i put it in my lap, but I didnt think it was THAT hot so give me $30 million!. Or the lady who sued the RV company because they labeled the cruise control as autopilot and was shocked when she left the wheel then went to the back of the RV and the RV crashed. Imagine when cars don't do every little thing because "they drive themselves".

I love technology but too much of anything is a problem. Many of these ideas are just too much.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 12:10:25 PM
Re: Talking not just to me ...
If the car drives for you, why would you need a breathalyzer? Scary to think of the level of autonomy we are willing to give up in the name of convenience/safety.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/31/2014 | 10:09:46 AM
Re: Talking not just to me ...
I have heard discussion about that -- and when ALL cars are self driving, accidents will probably be drastically reduced, so insurance as an industry will be disrupted. Even theft will likely be minimized, as you can program your car to work only for select people. We could install breathalyzers.

It's the transition that will be tough, when you have a mix of humans and computers on the road. 
smonfort402
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smonfort402,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/31/2014 | 9:49:05 AM
All this technology is well and good...
But it will continue to push the cost of new cars upward to the point that they will only be affordable to those in higher income brackets. Unless...they start making 10 year loans on cars.
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 9:40:42 AM
Some Interesting Ideas
I like some of these ideas but think some of the others are maybe a little too far out.  For instance, as others have mentioned, the external airbags might cost just as much to replace as fixing the car and could make the car just as un-drivable since they would be hanging around everywhere. Networked cars, Ah Yes another opportunity for hackers to steal my information and or take control of part of my life.  Preventing hot car deaths of kids and pets would be good if they can pull it off.
rmanske53101
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rmanske53101,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 9:40:05 AM
Who's responsible when something fails
All this is great, but think of this:  What happens, as we become dependt on all this technology to keep us safe and respond for us, when one of these new driving assisted or safety features fails, or doesn't work as it's billed.  The auto parking car doesn't break to avoid the child that ran behind it, or the external airbag deploys and slams the guy on the bike next to you into another car, or the auto braking system fails and you slam into the car ahead of you.  Who then is responsbile?  The driver will expect the insurance to pay, the insurance company will say the manufacture's system didn't work correctly and put the blame on them, and the manufacture will blame the driver for not being attentive enought to repond properly.  The lawyers will have a field day batting this around the courts.

The issue I see happening is as all these features come in, drivers will grow to depend on them and become less and less attentive in their driving. They're reading the windshield for directions and miss the car pulling out in front of them.  They'll expect the system to apply the breaks for them or properly calculate the correct speed needed to get through the traffic light safely.

Think of it this way: How many times does your computer lockup or crash when you need it most.  You may say not often, but it can and does happen.  The results are you may miss a meeting or have to start over with filling out the spreadsheet.  The consiquences are far worse when a system fails in in 2500 pound car going 35MPH in city traffic, and you don't get a blue screen to warn you about it.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 5:36:58 AM
Re: Smarter Cars: 9 Tech Trends
First off, I love my cars and even though I have not named any of them yet I still refer to each one by its registration plates (accronymed, of course) so I definitely wouldn't mind it if my cars 'thought' they were smarter than me. However, the idea of having a driverless car is one that I don't think I will ever reconcile myself with. Automated? Maybe, but never driverless. Not even Google (they are trying out driverless cars by the way) can predict everything and design a car that can handle all that so human intuition and instinct will always have an edge!
LUFU
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LUFU,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 7:17:39 PM
Back up, Move Forward
Well, the future of the auto industry looks like a cross between My Mother the Car, KITT in Knight Rider, and the Jetsons!
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 6:48:20 PM
Mabel the MINI
@David: thank you for immortalizing my beloved Mabel the MINI! (Cooper S, 2005, Harmon Kardon stereo package, runflat tires, sport suspension, same transmission as an audi TT...How I loved that car.)

Anyway, what I really want to know is where is my flying car?!?

I mean, all these tech advances are very nice, but I feel cheated. I was promised by every piece of science fiction I read as a kid that we'd have flying cars by now. What's the holdup?
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