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Not so long ago, the only bit of technology found in a car was the stereo system, but nowadays cars are becoming more and more complex and are offering technologies most of us cannot even dream about.
One of the technology leaders is the German car firm Audi. Its cars are getting more and more technically advanced and they are showing no signs of slowing things down.
Now Audi has announced that it is working on seven new tech-based features, which will eventually make their way into the cars we could buy from the showroom. They are:
1) Audi Wireless Charging: While Audi currently has no electric cars in their showrooms, that will soon change. Like many other companies who are offering or looking to offer electric cars, efficient charging solutions are big on their list. So Audi is co-developing a wireless charging system with WiTricity Corporation from Boston, MS. This system will have a coil-based receiver on the car and another mounted in your garage or parking spot. So when you drive your car into its spot, the car will start charging itself. According to Audi, the system will not be affected by rain or snow. Such a system will surely be a hit with electric car buyers.
2) Garage Parking Pilot: While self-parking features are already on the market, Audi is looking to go a step further with its Garage Parking Pilot. This system will not only help you park the car automatically, but will also help you find a parking spot in parking lots. When it finds that spot, it will guide the car neatly into the spot. Vehicle to vehicle networking will ensure that dings won’t be an issue.
3) OLED Lights: Audi was the first to introduce LED lights on its cars, now its looking to bring OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) to the market. While this technology is available on TV’s and cellphones, this organic polymer based semiconductor will see its first application on a car by Audi. This material is only nanometers thick, so hence is light and also uses less energy. They can also produce millions of colors.
4) Hybrid Body Materials: Audi has been at the forefront of reducing vehicle weights by using lighter materials since the early 1990′s. With their use of aluminum, their cars are upto 40% lighter than a similar cars made from steel. Now Audi is looking to combine steel with aluminum and carbon-fiber reinforced plastics to produce not only very strong components, but also very lightweight components.
5) FRP Coil Springs: A lot is riding on the springs in your car. To be exact, your whole car is riding on the springs. Thus springs have to be made from very strong metal. So how would you feel if we offer to replace your steel springs with ones made from plastic? Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) springs are being developed by Audi. These springs will be much lighter than their steel counterparts, but will retain the strength, in fact they’ll be even stronger. The first application of these springs will be seen on the Audi R8 e-tron, which will be out by 2014.
6) Multitouch Controls: While most luxury cars have some sort of multi-media controlling device on board, Audi was the first to introduce a Touchpad, which allows you to write your command using your finger. Now Audi is looking to enhance this feature by developing a new multitouch system similar to that of the iPad. This new system will allow the driver even more command options, and should also help in reducing distractions for the driver. The new system will work with voice command, touch, and the heads-up display system.
7) Predictive Suspension: Reading the road ahead is what many luxury car companies are working towards, and Audi is no exception. Audi will mount a camera ahead of the rear view mirror and a laser in the nose of the car to read the road 20-meters ahead and configure the suspension for what lies ahead. This photo-mixed detectors system will improve ride quality. The feature will probably debut in a future model of the A8.
Watch out for these new Audi developments to be on the road in the not to distant future. We’ll keep you posted on any further developments.
Backup cameras used to be a premium feature, but that will change thanks to a federal mandate expected Feb. 29.
If it goes through, the little screens that keep drivers from backing into objects will be required on all new US vehicles. The move is meant to cut down on the current death and injury statistics for backup accidents which account for 292 deaths and 3,000 serious injuries per year, according to federal statistics.
Aside from mandating the camera’s general implementation, it seems that such technology is likely be be standardized to require a 10-foot wide by 20-foot deep field of vision.
While back-up cams like the one in the Kia Sorento (above) and the annoying sonar-like beeping feature to prevent you from swapping paint with your neighbor are probably less than exciting for most drivers, there is a silver lining to the new rule.
If automakers are forced to start sticking screens into every dashboard, it’s likely that more new cars will have an infotainment system. Such technology is already finding its way into a growing list of cars, but its easy to imagine the champagne might already be flowing for companies who supply manufacturers with this equipment, after all what’s better than having an extremely inelastic good for sale?
Product manufacturers are probably giggling with glee, but consumers are probably feeling a little burned by an extra cost being forced into their next new car purchase. How much will this new requirement cost you?
That will ultimately depend on the manufacturer, but we’re betting it’s not going to be a big deal, at least as far as the budget compact segment is concerned.
Luxury automakers always find ways to charge more for their features and to be fair you often get a better product. It’s fair to assume, however, that individual unit costs will shrink as unit production goes up. Right now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it costs about $200 to install a video system and back up camera into a car.
It’s the same as buying breakfast cereal at Costco: things are cheaper in greater volume. Beyond that, it’s up to the manufacturer to decide how much of the additional cost it will bear and what portion to pass on.