Cars today are almost unrecognizable from what they were in the past. While the basics remain the same, modern vehicles are full of cutting-edge auto technology, making them safer, more efficient, and convenient. Many of these now-standard features didn’t become common until the past 10 years.
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Technology has advanced so quickly that it can be hard to imagine life before tech that’s still fairly new. Here’s a look back on five of the most impactful changes in auto technology that have changed driving across the past decade.
It’s impossible to talk about recent auto innovations without talking about autonomous driving. While true self-driving cars may not be a reality yet, companies have made tremendous strides in recent years. Many autonomous features, like automatic emergency braking and lane correction, are now commonplace.
Automatic braking will be standard by 2022, which policymakers say will cut rear-end collisions in half. Many new cars also feature adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts speeds to maintain a given distance from cars ahead of you. As more of these features slowly grow, the future of driverless cars grows closer.
Eventually, autonomous driving will be the standard. When that happens, roads can virtually eliminate accidents from distracted driving. That’s a massive leap forward, and it starts with today’s autonomous features.
Another piece of car technology with a tremendous impact is the backup camera. The first rear-view cameras appeared in vehicles in the early 2000s, but they were rudimentary and rare. In 2014, the Department of Transportation made them a mandatory feature, which took effect in 2018.
As straightforward as this technology is, it’s a remarkable improvement overlooking over your shoulder to reverse. Backup cameras provide more clarity, with many including features to measure distance or highlight obstacles. Even small changes like this have a considerable impact on safety, especially for new drivers.
Now that these are so common, it’s hard to think of a time before them. Still, they only became standard in the past few years. Backup cameras won’t likely go away anytime soon, as even self-driving cars will need to use similar technology.
Most vehicles still run on fossil fuels, but even these are far more sustainable than their predecessors. That’s thanks to multiple technological advances to car engines in the past ten years. You may not have noticed these changes, but they’ve made some significant progress.
For example, Chevrolet quietly phased out big-block engines in favor of smaller, more efficient alternatives around 2014. Similarly, many newer engines feature more gears, letting engines reduce their speed during highway driving and save fuel.
Across the past decade, engines have started to feature more and more electronic systems that monitor and adjust performance. While you don’t see or may not even notice these changes, they make many small efficiency improvements that add up to big differences. As the world pushes harder towards sustainability, these advances are helping make everyday life greener.
You can’t talk about efficiency in today’s cars without mentioning the electric vehicle (EV) market. Not long ago, EVs were short-ranged and expensive, making sustainable transportation something few could justify. While electric cars still cost more upfront than their gas counterparts, many are still reasonably affordable.
New technologies have paved the way for these lower prices, and perhaps more importantly, lessened lifetime ownership costs. For example, some Tesla batteries can reach 300,000 miles without needing a replacement. New lithium-ion battery technology has enabled these cars to go further with less power loss.
As technology has advanced, it’s become cheaper to make long-rage, long-lasting batteries. As a result, EVs are more accessible, letting more people drive sustainably. This shift will have massive consequences in the future as going green becomes more important.
Today, most cars have some kind of infotainment center on the dashboard. These offer various features, from controlling your music to navigating to looking up maintenance information. While these convenient, all-in-one hubs are now everywhere, that shift is relatively recent.
It’s easy to overlook the value of infotainment centers, but they’re a remarkable advancement. Now, any driver, regardless of their experience, can look for and understand their car’s maintenance needs. Similarly, drivers no longer need to read a map or pay for an external GPS to navigate through unfamiliar areas.
A decade ago, built-in navigation systems could cost $2,500, but now, they’re standard. Not just that, but the same place you access this feature has dozens of other functions. In the future, infotainment centers could come to replace entire dashboards.
Since technology advances so quickly, it can be hard to recognize groundbreaking changes when they occur. Whether or not many people have realized it, the past ten years have been something of a renaissance for auto technology. Transportation itself is reshaping, and recent innovations are driving that change.
These five changes aren’t the only advances of the past decade, but they represent the most impactful. The future of road transportation is growing from these five innovations. From self-driving cars to all-electric traffic, the future starts with this.
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Last Updated on December 3, 2021.