Accelerate towards car technology
There is more traffic than ever on the roads and it is moving more slowly than ever, according to the latest Department of Transport figures. The average speed on UK roads during morning peak hours is estimated at 23.8mph on major roads, and in cities traffic is crawling along at 15mph. Road warriors, driving in the name of business, are spending even more time in their cars. But the good news is that there is a lot of clever technology out there that is set to ease the pain of all those hours spent in the car and improve life for workers on the road.
Driverless cars are in development, building on features already in production such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technologies which allow the automated control of acceleration, automated emergency braking systems and self parking systems. The Government plans to ‘facilitate the testing and production of vehicles in which the driver can choose to use their travel time in ways that have never previously been possible’ and has put £100m into developing driverless cars, but the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) believes it will be 2030 before we see cars that are entirely technology-driven. Over in the US, researchers are developing systems that would connect these driverless cars with traffic light systems. The Autonomous Intersection Management project aims to link cars with traffic lights for the best management of traffic.
In the meantime, biometric technology is improving the driving experience. Drivers of top-end executive cars may already be familiar with fingerprint recognition that enables access to the car and fingerprint-operated ignition. At the cutting edge, car makers are incorporating iris recognition and there is even a solution that recognises the unique imprint of the driver’s bottom.
Volkswagen has developed a system that uses biometric data to suggest a route that will be least likely to induce road rage while other car makers are teaming up with technology giants to bring the latest IT to cars. Audi set up a trial involving Amazon and DHL that enabled Audi owners to use their car as a shipping address for items ordered online. Customers who have ordered off Amazon Prime can have orders delivered to the boot of their car, saving time that might be wasted being available in person for a delivery. DHL delivery drivers would track a customer car by linking to Audi’s in-car communications system, then use an access code to unlock the boot. The code would expire as soon as the boot was shut.
Meanwhile Ford is working with chip maker Intel on Project Mobii to use facial recognition software to offer enhanced privacy controls and ‘a more secure and personalised in-vehicle experience’. What this means is that when the driver gets into the vehicle, he or she is authenticated through a camera using facial recognition software. The dashboard display is then personalised to display information specific to that driver, such as calendar, music and contacts. If that could be embarrassing when car sharing with co-workers, rest assured – if Project Mobii detects a passenger in the car, a privacy mode activates to display navigation features alone.
It looks like business travellers and commuters can look forward to a future of highly productive travel by car or van, perhaps taking care of emails or creating a report or PowerPoint presentation, as the car automatically plays the music of their choice, all the while driving them along the most relaxing route to their final destination.