The Near Future.
Technologies Working Together: Autos, Computers and Electronics
With Women driving technology and innovation
The future looks bright with a growing number of women making their mark on the digital world
Today, auto technology on sale allows cars to “see” all around, gathering data on possible roadway concerns and giving drivers eyes in the back of their heads. Since more than 90 percent of crashes involve driver error, automakers created a range of safety systems that aid drivers for brief periods to help avoid accidents. Driver assist systems include lane departure and blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, telematics control systems and more.
Technological improvements in computers, smartphones, wireless communications and the cloud have converged to advance safety for connected consumers. Connectivity and the internet are changing the world of autos, and more change is coming. The percentage of new passenger cars globally shipping with factory-installed telematics will increase from nearly 10 percent in 2010 to 62 percent in 2016, according to ABI Research.
Looking forward, cars may soon be “talking” to each other and to the roadway. Car-tocar information sharing can alert vehicles miles behind that cars ahead have come to a halt, warning drivers to prepare to slow down. “Smart” intersections will allow stop signs and traffic lights to communicate with vehicles, as sensors report if another vehicle is running a red light. Traffic lights could be synchronized to improve traffic flow — and fuel efficiency — and if there is only one vehicle sitting at a traffic light late at night, the light could be programmed to turn green.
Today’s leading automakers are developing cars that park themselves, brake at the sign of danger and stay in lanes without driver assistance. What once only existed in the imaginations of science fiction writers is now being developed and tested by carmakers in laboratories and on roadways across the globe.
As partially-autonomous functions in vehicles become more common, the leap to achieving fully driverless cars becomes ever smaller. Today’s emerging technology — sensors able to read road signs and traffic signals, while also employing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems to navigate roadways, traffic and pedestrian hazards — will be available widespread in the future.
Not long ago, developments by researchers in the military and space industries found their way into automobiles. But today, prominent scholars are noting a major role reversal: carmakers are leading the way in technological innovations. Though Congress set a goal that a third of the combat fleet be comprised of unmanned vehicles by 2015, The New York Times reports the U.S. armed forces is lagging behind today’s auto manufacturers.
The newspaper noted automakers leading the military in self-driving technology is ironic “given that today’s commercial advances have their roots in research originally sponsored by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s advanced technology organization.”
But “a new generation of smarter, smaller and gentler robots is poised to transform manufacturing again, this time by working alongside their human colleagues.”1 Collaborative robots, or “cobots,” now populate factory floors working in tandem with humans to make operations run more smoothly. Cobots are a newer trend, able to assist in a myriad of ways, from moving parts and improving safety to taking on wearisome tasks to improve the health of workers.
This year’s E3, the gaming world’s annual marquee show, was virtual reality’s chance to shine. Two high-end headsets — the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — are on sale already, although they serve only a small market. We’re four months from the launch of PlayStation VR, which will open up the medium to potentially tens of millions of PlayStation 4 owners. And Oculus is supposedly releasing its Touch motion controllers by the end of the year, making the headset significantly more attractive. All three platforms are established enough that developers are starting to take notice, but they still desperately need games. There’s never been a better time for a blitz of good VR news — or a worse time to get bad news.
There certainly was some good news at the show, including a release date for PlayStation VR, which will hit shelves October 13th. Ubisoft announced a Star Trek game for all three platforms, complete with a decently fun demo. And Oculus promised details on Touch this fall. But E3 also laid bare each platform’s glaring weak points, just as VR gaming is supposed to be getting off the ground.
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