Cars are smarter than ever. We’re not talking about self-driving cars, though they are improving all the time. No, we’re talking about cars using smart features to make your car safer, easier, and more enjoyable to drive.
Many of these features, like GPS and in-car navigation, have been around for years. We already take these for granted, but even these humble features are improving all the time. That said, satellite navigation is just the beginning when it comes to your car’s increasing intelligence.
A Smarter Car Is a Safer Car
Hands-free calling, control over your music, and easy access to climate controls have been part of cars for longer than many smart features. All of this lets us do more in our vehicles without ever having to take our hands off the wheel. This is safer, but can also lead to distraction.
This is where other smart features come into play. Our cars can start slowing down automatically if they see traffic ahead, but there are other more subtle elements as well. If your car notices you starting to drift to the right, a subtle vibration, essentially an enhanced onboard version of a rumble strip, can alert you and get you back on track.
Self-Driving, but Only When You Need It
Many drivers are reluctant to embrace the idea of a self-driving car simply because they enjoy driving. This is where some ideas from self-driving cars can enhance your driving experience instead of removing it completely.
Smart braking lets your car apply the brakes if onboard cameras see a sudden stop ahead. These features aren’t all about safety though. Few drivers enjoy parking, and self-parking, which began to arrive in cars around ten years ago, takes over when we don’t feel like parking. This isn’t in the majority of cars, but it can be found in models from Tesla and others.
Your Car Knows More About Itself than You Do
Depending on the car, you may find yourself having to worry less than ever about reading gauges. As tech improves, our cars can alert us when we need fuel, whether we’ll encounter any traffic on the way to where we’re headed, and if this will impact arrival time.
This makes maintaining our vehicles easier as well. Cars have had “Check Engine” and similar lights for years, but now when your vehicle tells you it needs maintenance, it can tell you exactly what needs to be checked. Not only does this keep you safer, but it can help keep your mechanic honest as well.
Intelligence Brings Convenience
While Apple and Google are adding more intelligence to our vehicles with CarPlay and Android Auto, they’re not the only companies to do so. Automotive companies are starting to provide their own services as well.
One example is BMW ConnectedDrive. The company refers to this as the “bridge between your BMW and your busy life.” It helps you monitor your vehicle’s performance and upkeep while also keeping you up to date on your upcoming calendar events.
Volvo Sensus Connect is a more traditional-style in-car system that handles navigation, car settings, and entertainment. This, combined with CarPlay or Android Auto, comprises a complete smart system for your vehicle. Many car manufacturers have similar systems that work well with your phone.
Smart Cars Will Only Get Smarter
While many manufacturers are moving toward self-driving cars, we have a long time to wait until we see widespread adoption. In the meantime, we’ll continue to see tech developed for these vehicles trickle down to the vehicles we drive ourselves.
As this happens, the vehicles we drive will handle more and more of what we don’t enjoy about driving. At the same time, they’ll minimize hassle, keep us safer, and let us enjoy the drive.