Cars have advanced massively since the first mass-produced mechanically powered transport, we spent more time in our cars and used them for lots of different reasons. Most people primarily use their cars as labour saving device, but they are so much more than that.
Cars themselves have gone from simple four wheels and engine with the only in-car technology being that which is functional to the actual car itself. Things such as indicators, headlights and windscreen wipers, safety features for the most part. But, now, while cars still retain these features the sheer amount of technology found on most modern cars is astounding.
Take any car over about 20 years old, pop the bonnet and you’ll be able to see most of the working components of the engine. From the intake manifold, the exhaust manifold through to the cylinder head. It all has a great purpose for making the car drive correctly.
Now, take a modern car, pop the bonnet and you’ll likely only see large plastic panels covering almost every part of the engine. This change has been brought about by the utter and extreme sophistication of our cars. Gone are the user serviceable parts, or the routine maintenance that could be carried out at home. Now if there’s a problem with a car, the first sign of any fault will often be a light on the dashboard. Or more likely a message on an LED display telling you what the fault is!
Cars have been complex machines, a complete mix of electronics and mechanical systems all talking to each other to maintain optimal running conditions. Part of this drive is fuel economy, part emissions and part reliability, but it goes deeper, way deeper. For example, on many BMW cars, should the car be involved in an accident, the car will automatically contact the emergency services and transmit your exact location via GPS. Clever and potentially life-saving kit.
And it’s not all doom and gloom with in-car technology. Seats adjust automatically depending on which key is used to open the vehicle giving a his-and-hers profile to the seating position, steering wheel position, GPS voice and the favourite radio stations. Some cars sense when it’s too hot and automatically activate the air conditioning so that, on return to the car it’s not roasting hot inside.
Clever and useful tech for sure, and beyond this, smartphone integration has given us the ability to use voice activated dialing to keep our eyes on the road. Some cars even have built in internet connections for sending and receiving email on the move. While this might be seen as a gimmick, more and more people are finding this increasing useful as a time-saving exercise.
And then there’s a range of manufacturers who produce a smartphone app that allows your car to talk to the smartphone from anywhere in the world. Your smartphone could show its location and a whole host of stats such as outside temperature, directions to the car and beyond. Be it shameful for anyone who can’t find their car in a car park ever again!