1. Google Driverless Cars
The latest prototype has all the important elements like headlights, steering and brakes. The company have also created a self-driving system with sensors and computers that can be fitted to SUVs like Lexus. This new technology will not only be a breakthrough in tough traffic congestion but sensing technology can also increase road safety. Countries such as the UK and US are working on laws to allow driverless cars.
2. Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)
In the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, where more than 70 vehicles were launched, one that pundits hailed as the most important was Maruti Suzuki’s Celerio, the first affordable mass segment gearless hatchback. Celerio comes with AMT (automate manual transmission) sourced from Magneti Marelli, component arm of Fiat. AMT is an electro-hydraulic mechanism for automating manual transmission, which derives from Formula 1.
It has a hydraulic system and an electronic system. The electronic transmission control unit helps in engaging and disengaging the clutch and gear through an electronic actuator. It also has a sports mode, which enables drivers to move to the manual shifting of gear to increase and decrease the gear ratios with plus and minus either through gear knob /joystick or the steering. In India, AMT is currently available in three cars — Celerio, Alto K10 and Tata Zest.
3. V2V Communications
In February, US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles. This technology would allow vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second, to improve safety.
Photo Credit: Motor Authority.com
It uses ‘ad hoc network’, where every car is free to associate with any other car available in the network and share equal status. V2V, which is also known as VANET (vehicular ad hoc network), is a variation of MANET (mobile ad hoc network). Many automobile manufacturers including are BMW, Audi, Honda, General Motors, Volvo and Daimler working and developing this technology to improve safety, overcome blind spots and avoid accidents.
4. Pre-Collision Technology
Top carmakers such as Ford and Hyundai have developed a pre-collision assist and pedestrian detection technology. Besides helping the driver detect blind spots, this technology also alerts the driver when he/she is not paying attention on the road. And if the driver falls asleep and does not respond to the warning, then the system applies the brakes on its own. The driver assist system has two types of sensors.
One is millimetre-wave radar located inside the front grille, and the other is a monocular camera mounted on the upper, inside part of the windshield. Its collision mitigation braking system delivers an audio and visual warning when there is a risk of a head-on collision.
If the driver fails to react, the car will automatically begin breaking itself to prevent or reduce the severity of a crash. This technology will debut in 2015 with Ford Mondeo in Europe. Hyundai would introduce it in the new Genesis sedan.
5. Smart Cars After smartphones, we will soon have smart cars around. In June 2014, Google launched its ‘Android Auto’, a telematics software that can be connected to car dash board for infotainment. It also enables the driver to access GPS, maps, streaming music, weather, and a host of other applications. A slew of carmakers including Abarth, Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Maseratiand Volvo will offer Android Auto in their cars
Earlier, at the Geneva Motor Show in March, Apple announced its ‘CarPlay’ software, which allows devices running on the iOS operating system to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. Carmakers like BMW, Daimler, JLR, Honda and Hyundai have installed it in their cars. Infotainment manufacturers like Pioneer & Alpine too have shown interest in Carplay from Apple.
6. Ford Aluminium Truck
In 2014, Ford unveiled the first aluminium-bodied full-size pickup, rolling out aluminium version of its popular F-150 from its Dearborn plant. It is 700 pounds or about 318 kg lighter than the steel-bodied version, making it a more fuel-efficient and nimbler pickup.
The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for 32 straight years. Last year, Ford sold nearly 100,000 more full-size pickups than General Motors. Aluminium isn’t new to the auto industry, but this is the first time it will cover the entire body of such a high-volume vehicle.
7. Start- Stop Technology Hero MotoCorp introduced its first bike with start-stop technology, Splendor iSmart, in March 2014.
The company calls it i3s technology which is also known as Idle Start and Stop System. i3s is a green technology that automatically shuts the engine when idling and turns it on, when needed, with a simple press of the clutch, giving more mileage in congested cities.
8. Bus Powered by Human Waste
In November, the world witnessed the first ever bus to run on human waste on the roads of Britain. According to researchers, the bus can provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport — cutting emissions in polluted towns and cities.
The 40-seater Bio-Bus, which runs on gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste, helps to improve urban air quality as it produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines. The bus can travel up to 300 km on a full tank of gas.
9. Land Rover’s Invisible Car
In April, Tata -owned JLR introduced a new technology to give drivers a digital vision of the terrain ahead by making the front of the car ‘virtually’ invisible. The technology — named Transparent Bonnet — enables a driver climbing a steep incline or manoeuvring in a confined space to see an augmented reality view capturing not only the terrain in front of the car but also the angle and position of the front wheels.
The cameras located in the vehicle’s grille capture data used to feed a head-up display, effectively creating a ‘see-through’ view of the terrain through the bonnet and engine bay, breaking new ground in visual driver assistance.
10. Toyota’s Hovering Car Toyota is developing a future airborne car. A media report quoted Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, managing officer at Toyota Motor Corporation, as saying the company has been toying with the idea of flying cars.
The concept car being developed at one of Toyota’s high tech R&D centres won’t be actually flying around, but instead would be floating slightly above the road to reduce friction, a bit like a hovercraft. This is just a case-study and the actual Toyota hovering car may not make it to the showrooms anytime in the near future.