Road safety is an ever-evolving concern in the automotive industry, right alongside climate change and car culture’s addiction to fossil fuels. Safety, however, often relies on human response time more so than any other factors vehicles and drivers encounter while on the road. How, though, can manufacturers plan for the behaviour of famously-unpredictable humans?
The answer may be found in blockchain and cloud technologies. The automotive industry is rapidly moving towards the development of technological advancements that would promote communication between several different cars. There’s more to it than that though.
Given the development of these sorts of technologies, it’s clear that automotive manufacturers want their vehicles not only to communicate with each other, but to communicate with entire cities as well as the drivers behind the wheel.
Let’s dive into the types of technologies now on the rise to get a better idea of where this field is heading.
Vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity is on the cusp of becoming an on-the-road technology. Otherwise known as V2V, this car cloud computing allows two or more vehicles in close proximity to communicate with one another. The conversations these vehicles will have will enable them to interact more safely, not drifting too close to one another and maintaining a secure following distance.
Ideally, V2V technology will also eliminate – or at least lessen – the amount of traffic congestion the average driver sees on a daily basis. This kind of environmental communication is the first step towards the automotive industry’s ideal, “vehicle-to-everything,” or V2X.
How safe are connected cars? At the moment, these vehicles are being tested for their cyber security. With the proper encryptions, though, it’s anticipated that V2V and V2X introductory technologies will take to the road in the near future.
Speaking of interconnectivity: how would you like to drive with your brain? This doesn’t mean in the traditional sense, of course. Thanks to certain vehicular devices that would measure a driver’s brain waves, the cars of the future may be able to utilise the same technology driving V2V to create B2V, or brain-to-vehicle connectivity.
At this point, B2V technology is still in its formulation stages. It’s posed that, to drive a car with your mind, you would need to wear an electrode-heavy headset that could detect your biometrics as well as your brain waves. Unfortunately, this kind of manoeuvring would require a significant amount of focus and impulse control, making it risky to test. That said, it still presents an interesting opportunity for the drivers of the future.
The good news is that, should B2V technology be the way of the future, it would be much simpler to ensure the safety of connected cars. While, yes, you can hack connected cars with the right skill set, it would take significantly more effort to hack a driver’s brain.
Health monitoring and biometric access
While B2V technology may have to wait a decade or two, cars are already taking drivers’ heath and personal biometrics into account. Early use of biometrics saw Ford implement finger fobs as convenient, personalised tools to help drivers move away from the push and point fobs of old. But do the new developments in biometric technology really represent an advancement for blockchain technology in cars?
Yes. Instead of relying on drivers’ fingerprints, though, automotive manufacturers like Hyundai want to use 2019 Santa Fe SUV drivers the opportunity to base the whole of their vehicle’s security system on an individual fingerprint. Several other manufacturers are looking to use existing facial recognition software to provide drivers with additional and individualised vehicle security.
The spread of this technology from a fob to vehicles’ engines and infotainment centers reflects not only its plausibility but its integration into cultural vehicle security.
The new (old) car airbags
Last but not least, automotive manufacturers are updating one of the most familiar forms of vehicular security: the airbag. Mercedes was the first automotive manufacturer to pursue this line of thought, but the company has yet to debut vehicles with the technology equipped on the road.
German supplier, ZF, however, wants to seize their chance. In June 2019, the manufacturer poses that external airbags, upon being deployed and with the assistance of the aforementioned vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, can help stop a car in the middle of a crash or even before a crash takes place, depending on where the airbags are located. It’s even predicted that these airbags will reduce the chance of occupant injury by 40 percent.
ZF predicts that their exterior air bags will be able to use pre-integrated biometric technology, including cameras and vehicular radar to decide when the airbags need to be deployed. These airs will only be released from their sills when the car believes that a crash can’t be avoided.
It seems strange to think that this sort of idea hasn’t been posed until now. It seems, though, that new automotive technologies don’t have to come straight from science fiction. Instead, automotive manufacturers can base them in pre-existing technologies, to everyone’s benefit.