The driving iPhone
The electric vehicle is all about sustainability. About the transition from a gas engine to an electric one. But the electric vehicle is just as much about digital transformation.
In this blog, we focus on the digital side. On ten innovations that made our cars into a driving iPhone. A story on amazing technological advancement in the last decade.
Ten digital car innovations
The infotainment used to consist of the radio (AM/FM) and your partner next to you. A lot of happened since then, we have smartphone integration to listen for example to Spotify. And even the radio itself is digitalized through the DAB+ standard. For some this isn’t enough, in recent Tesla’s it is possible to play games in your car (as long as you're not driving).
For years, we made the transition from paper maps to GPS navigation. Over the years, the navigation became more reliable, and today we almost are literally lost without it. The car navigation has gained more and more functionality like voice-control, auto-updating of maps, live traffic-control, Points of Interests and navigating to charging stations.
Car dashboards used to be a jungle of buttons. Now they only have some buttons on the steering wheel. On the dashboard there is often only a smart key to effortless ignite the engine.
Every part of the car can be set through the menu (The new jungle). In Tesla even the mirrors needs to be set like this. Fortunately there is also support for Voice Recognition and gestures to make buttonless dashboards more safe.
Nowadays, when a car enters the garage the first thing a car mechanic does, is reading out the car with a tablet. With this information, he or she knows exactly what is wrong. In this way, the car mechanic is becoming more and more an IT guy or girl. With all the data available, the car itself can be proactive. Through predictive maintenance, it knows what needs to be replaced.
A modern car has sensors, sensors and then even more sensors. Almost obligatory (Because of poor all-round visibility in modern cars) are park assistants with cameras. Then there are rain sensors and sensors which reminds you kindly to keep your hands on the steering wheel, or that it’s time to take a break.
Drive by wire
Drive by wire means that there is no direct mechanical link between the action a driver performs and what happens on the road. The advantage is that there are fewer parts needed, which makes the car lighter and needs less maintenance. It can also be more precise and better tunable. Drive by wire can be applied to steering, braking and shifting.
Traditionally, cars have three pedals. The clutch, the brake and the gas pedal. The clutch is not needed anymore when driving an automatic. This is common in the US, in other parts of the world only common in the higher-end market. With EV’s it will become common everywhere.
But EV’s make also another pedal redundant: The brake. This was first introduced on the Nissan Leaf. In a car with an electric motor, the powertrain requests electricity for the motor to propel the car forward and accelerate. However, when stopping, it can do the opposite. Just releasing the throttle is enough.
The analog gauges, such as speed and rpm now have been replaced by a digital cockpit. In EV’s rpm are of course not needed. This leaves more room for other information like range, efficiency and navigation. The beauty of a digital cockpit is that it’s just a screen, so you can show on it what you want. Speed can be shown for example digitally or analog.
What can you possibly make digital of a mirror. It turns out a lot. First the side mirrors were replaced by camera’s. This has for example been done on the Audi E-Tron. The reason? Side mirrors make cars relatively less aerodynamic. Digital side view mirrors reduces drag and saves fuel. Besides, it also has blind-spot monitoring.
Also, Jaguar Land Rover’s ClearSight digitalizes the rearview mirror. It uses a combination of cameras and a rearview mirror-integrated display to provide the driver with unprecedented views at strategic points around the vehicle.
Real autonomous driving isn’t ready for prime time yet. The time we just step in and watch Netflix might take a few years. Still assisting self-driving technologies have come a long way.
Cruise-control was already invented in 1948, but now there is a lot more available. Like adaptive cruise control (which holds automatic distance at the car in front of you). Lane assist keeps you nicely between the road markings and prevent unwanted lane changes. And last, but not least emergency braking was added.
Together they are often called pilot assist (or autopilot at Tesla). It seems that the road to full autonomous driving is an evolutionary one.
EV’s are not savior of the environment
Part 5: A short analysis of the car market
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