Guest blog: This article was written by Charlotte Simmons, Community Growth and Content Manager, for peer-to-peer car sharing company, hiyacar.

Cast your mind into the future and imagine what vehicles will be like. What do you see? For decades, since vehicles have been available to the wider population, popular culture has constantly proposed new ideas regarding the evolution of transport. Whilst flying cars aren’t on the near horizon just yet, the people first conjuring up these ideas back in the 50s and 60s are quickly realising that some of their other ideas are indeed being brought to life. In the article below, we’ll explore a selection of the most exciting developments happening right now in connected and automated mobility.  

To begin, we’ll start with a topic that is closer than we all think. Nonetheless it remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind when this conversation is discussed – self-driving vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles

Self-driving vehicles are one of the holy grails of sci-fi when it comes to transport. The end goal here is to have fully automated vehicles that do not require human input to reach their final destination. People may not even need driver’s licenses to use one. There are numerous companies who are spearheading the charge towards this target, many of whom are using Testbed UK. Huge developments have been made in recent years and many vehicles are in advanced testing stages, with some allowed onto roads with live tests.

In order to make the self-driving future a reality, massive progress to develop the required technology is taking place right now. However, many hurdles remain that we must overcome. One of the biggest causes for debate are times when drivers interact and decide between them on the safest course of action. Arguably, the biggest challenge to breaking into the mass market is answering difficult ethical questions, such as this.

As an example, how should a vehicle behave in an unavoidable collision? Does it choose to minimise risk for its owner or instead the other people involved? These are the fundamentals that will need to be decided on before the vehicles are cleared for widespread use in. Recently, Zenzic explored how a vehicle should react when faced with the dilemma of saving one life or another in an unavoidable collision. You can read it here.

What do these challenges tell us? Even if we can surpass the technical difficulties in getting fully automated vehicles on the road, there are other areas of society that need to take part in the development beyond the technological advancements.

It is true that fully self-driving vehicles are on the horizon and that technology around partial automation is accessible today. Below, we have explored some of the technology that supports the development of self-driving vehicles.

Assisted driving

With time, vehicles have become increasingly capable of understanding the environment and road conditions. From important safety notifications, to interior environment control and entertainment, vehicles of the future will continue to offer these features. They create the vital steppingstone between human drivers and complete autonomy.

Forward collision warning and monitoring

Sensors fitted to the vehicle monitor the road ahead and notify the driver of any obstacles that may cause a collision. The automatic cruise control feature does this when activated and some manufacturers, such as Volvo, BMW and Audi are already making collision avoidance a standard feature. This involves the vehicle actively monitoring the distance between itself and the potential hazard, bringing itself to either a stop or slowing down the speed enough to avoid an accident.

Lane departure and drift warning

A vehicle is able to check its path on the road through cameras attached to it. With this knowledge, it can prevent itself from moving into another lane of traffic. With either a vibration or a dashboard alert, the driver will also be notified of the danger that has just been minimised. Many vehicles already have this feature. However, beyond ‘lane departure’, companies such as Tesla, Audi and Mercedes already have systems where the vehicle will stay in the lane itself and the driver ultimately acts as the monitor. 

How climate change is affecting vehicle usage

As the world’s population continues to increase and more people are capable of driving, we must be conscious of the impact these extra vehicles will have on the planet. There are particular technologies that are bearing the weight of this environmental consideration such as electric and hybrid vehicles, which will become significantly more important as we move further into the 21st century and beyond.

Coinciding with the technological developments, there are basic adjustments all drivers can make to lower their harm on the planet. Again, we foresee these only becoming more important as time goes on. Sat navs regularly offer drivers the shortest or fastest route to drive. However, navigation systems are also beginning to use the most environmentally friendly route and whilst there are examples of this technology, it’s not currently prevalently known. Alongside this, drivers should be educated to understand how their vehicle performs best – including from what type of oil burns best in their engine, to what type of pressure is optimal for fuel consumption.

Additionally, the way people actually use and interact with vehicles will change massively – and soon. Whilst reducing pollution from vehicles is extremely important, we must also address the growing number of self-driving vehicles that would be on the road, causing increased congestion.

Peer to peer ownership

There are companies promoting the concept of shared usage of a vehicle such as hiyacar. The thought process behind this is that for a large proportion of their time, vehicles are inactive. They spend a great amount of time parked in a road, driveway or car park. Solutions are currently evident for our society, for example growing in popularity is the idea that multiple people within a community have access to a vehicle. hiyacar allows people to rent a vehicle from neighbours in their area. Through this, they cut down the number of vehicles blocking roads and driving on streets, reducing the wastage of the millions of vehicles parked every day.

Looking to the future, we’re at an extremely exciting time across the entire spectrum of mobility. The investment and development in this area is huge and, specifically in the UK, there is a collaborative effort between government, academia and industry. Alongside this investment and change, our usage of vehicles will soon adapt to align ourselves with the evolving intelligence of our vehicle options.

The future of mobility is being shaped right now in the UK. It is enabling companies like hiyacar to create new initiatives for the future of vehicle usage, by connecting owners and drivers to hire vehicles from one another. To learn more about hiyacar, who are connecting people in their local communities and, by doing this, changing mobility for the better, visit their website here.


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