Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The summer road trip of 2017 – Part II

Lynn Gayowski
Lynn Gayowski
Our series looking at how in-car technologies will transform your summer road trip continues with part II. 2017 is around the corner, and between now and then, automakers will introduce a bevy of new features that will make for a safer and more enjoyable summer road trip. In our first part, we looked at your road trip soundtrack, navigation, and mobile device connectivity. This week, we look at safety, acoustics, and autonomous cars as we cruise to the last exit for this blog series.

Staying safe
By 2017, we likely won’t have developed the technology to shrink your mechanic down to a size that allows you to perch one on your dashboard like a bobble-head, but many cars will have a “virtual mechanic.” This application will let you check lights, fluids, tire pressure and other system vitals, all through your center stack, digital instrument cluster, or phone – as seen below. The idea of a safety speedometer is hardly new in concept (see the Plymouth safety speedometer from 1939), but its modern implementation in the cars of 2017 in the form of vision systems performing road sign detection might just mean fewer speeding tickets on your road trip, especially as you cruise through unfamiliar areas. 

Staying in touch
Sometimes you want to take a road trip to get away from the world, but sometimes you still want (or need) to stay connected. Whether it’s phone calls, texts, or emails, all of this information will continue to be seamlessly integrated into your car in 2017. Less fumbling, fewer distractions.

And low-quality, stilted speakerphone calls will be a thing of the past with the emerging crop of acoustic technologies. Driving alone on a stretch of road and miss having your loved ones close by? Advanced duplex technology will make it seem as though the person on the other end of your phone conversation is sitting right beside you in the passenger’s seat.  

Another cool development? You won’t have to struggle to use voice recognition technologies because of your noisy in-car cabin (that’s right, serenely quiet cabins will no longer be exclusive to luxury cars). Vehicles will continue to evolve to meet the strictest CAFÉ and emissions standards, while the negative acoustic side-effects from less damping materials will be countered using software to remove unwanted engine sound. And your engine in 2017 might really sound like purring (or growling, if that’s your preference), as signature sounds are enabled by engine sound enhancement software. So not only will you not feel crazy for talking to your car, you’ll also be less frustrated as you do so cruising down the interstate. 

Beyond 2017: Look ma, no hands!
While it won’t happen quite as soon as 2017, autonomous cars will hit the roads in the relatively near future, forever changing the dynamic of the road trip. Will road trips be more accessible for the elderly and others who can’t physically drive long distances? Will the new meaning of "cruise control" make the road trip more or less enjoyable? All of these considerations are up for discussion. One thing is certain: many of the advanced safety systems of today and 2017 are precursors to cars that could drive themselves. One such example of what the future of autonomous driving will look like is the University of Parma’s DEEVA autonomous car project being developed by the Artificial Vision and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (VisLab).  

How is in-car technology playing a role in your current summer road trip? How do you want it to improve your future road trips? Stay tuned to our QNX_Auto Twitter account and Facebook page for weekly discussions throughout the rest of the summer about 2017 has in store for your road trip.

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