Means of transport are evolving very quickly and the pandemic was the missing ingredient in accelerating the way people move. There are new challenges, but also opportunities, said Carla Bailo of the Center for Automotive Research. People don’t just want to have new contactless solutions, they want to centralize these payments in a single format, for example. Therefore, universal solutions must be found that people trust, that are safe and private. He gives the example of bicycle and scooter sharing services as a good example of how mobility has evolved.
Andrew Poliak of Panasonic Automotive pointed out that autonomous vehicles will allow sharing entertainment with family members, stressing that audio and other premium features will be part of the systems of the cars. He gave the example of a well-known family who punished their children by cutting off the internet at home, only to discover that the children went to the garage, into the vehicle, to connect to their system.
Stefan Buerkle from Bosch looks at city infrastructures as enablers to process all autonomous driving, capable of offering the means that communicate with the car’s sensors. Only in this way will it be possible to greatly improve people’s lives, such as, for example, cars parking alone, without the need to waste time looking for available parking spaces.
In 2027, autonomous cars are expected to circulate more naturally, but cities need to be equally optimized to ensure a safer transition, from the synchronization of traffic lights to parking spaces and vehicle feeding. Cities will have to grow technologically as cars evolve.
Obviously, COVID-19 has changed people’s minds, with a large percentage admitting that it will not return to the offices after the pandemic. There will be more free space, less cars on the streets, and this has to be used to transform spaces into green areas. Many roads ended up closing in the restaurant areas and the hope is that many of these measures will not go back after the disease that affects everyone.
It is said that people drive less often, which will affect the way cars are built, given the new needs of users. It is highlighted that the car is increasingly a social instrument, used for holidays and that people need more complex and complete infontaiment systems. For many, cars are used as offices during isolation, as an escape from domestic noise. For experts, cars are no longer just a means of transport, but a space where more time is spent, like a second home.
Safety is another priority for builders, who are increasingly investing in emergency systems to protect occupants. Such as contactless interaction technologies. Just look at the technology that has been introduced in cars for the past 10 years. The use of cameras to design elements of augmented reality is an example. But manufacturers need to deal with privacy regulations in the way they process collected data, to create a more connected ecosystem between vehicles.
Manufacturers seek to gain trust, rather than promise that their products are safe and will make people’s lives. It takes time to mature, and they emphasize that it is necessary for technology to mature so that it can be absorbed and recognized by people. But how far does that trust go? Can people sleep in the car while it drives them to their destination? It is stressed that it is currently very dangerous to call Self Driving the current technology, because it has not yet reached that point. Hence the request that all manufacturers speak the same language, something that some companies are beginning to highlight as Waymo. Transparency is key to gaining people’s confidence: “If we say that a vehicle is autonomous, it must be autonomous”, stresses Christiane Zorn of AUDI. And that also involves educating people to understand technology.
The technology has to help more to create mechanisms to avoid distractions, or at least, to detect when a driver falls asleep or is distracted talking to the passenger next door. This is where many manufacturers are walking. On the other hand, systems that offer individualized entertainment to passengers, be it a way for the GPS to send audio signals only to the driver, while the rest of the people are entertained with multimedia, without interfering with the browser, for example.
Experts say that in the future, a car will be characterized by its owner as if it were a smartphone. When you switch from one car to the other, you must transfer all your customization to the new one. One of the concerns is to keep the technology always present in cars over the years, because they can last for 15, 20 or 30 years in the hands of different users. The desire is for a person who buys a second- or third-hand car to continue to use the current technologies that are being launched.
The same is true of seasonal needs, something that companies are also beginning to look at in automotive technology. Systems that help control and navigate a car in winter are not the same as in summer, for example.