With terms like “self-driving” and “autonomous” continuously being repeated headline after headline, it is hard to ignore the undeniable push for progress automakers and their ingenious engineers are making. Technology advancements have become the main focus for many automotive companies and with billions being spent on new technology it is not surprising that we are seeing unbelievable improvements to our cars.
So what are some of the major vehicle tech advancements of 2016? While this list doesn’t cover every single one, I have tallied up what can be defined as the most progressive, innovative, and downright coolest tech advancements to date.
If this list doesn’t make you want to buy a new car, then I don’t know what will.
Time to geek out. Of course, I have saved the best for last!
7. Ford SYNC 3.0 Connects You to Your Car
This is the latest and greatest version of Ford’s voice control technology available in newer Ford vehicles. Ford SYNC lets you control common day-to-day functions such as making or receiving calls on your smart phone, using mobile apps compatible with SYNC, or selecting your favorite song.
Ford’s technology allows you to use these features without needing to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. If your Ford is equipped with SYNC, you can even control the climate of your car without turning the dials.
Ford’s tech has an easy-to-use interface ensuring drivers don’t get distracted – or frustrated. Ford tech developers are continuously upgrading the features to give its drivers seamless connectivity with their car.
6. Chevy is All Charged Up
While the 2017 Chevy Bolt might not be available for purchase quite yet, the, the news of the longer lasting battery surfaced in 2016, thus the reason for it making it onto this 2016 tech advancement list. .
The 2017 Chevy Bolt has a new battery that really goes the distance – 200 miles to be exact. Ever since the Bolt’s early concept stages it was specifically designed to accommodate its 1,000 lbs., battery package.
Chevy’s tech advancement is a milestone in the electric vehicle (EV) industry as it is the first EV with a battery capable of travelling 200 miles on a single charge. Powered by a 60 –kWh battery, the new Chevy Bolt has a significantly improved retention of energy when heated, giving Bolt drivers the ability to travel farther without having to stop and plug in.
5. BMW’s ‘Handy’ New Technology
This tech feature takes car innovation to a new level. This technology advancement uses an infrared camera detector above your gear shifter. As Compare.com explains, in the new 2016 BMW 7 Series your finger actually becomes something like a wand.
While other similar systems use voice control to perform specific tasks or enable your car’s features, BMW engineers have developed their new technology around hand gesture recognition. Specific gestures allow you to turn up the volume, or change the music by using the same hand motions you’d perform to physically complete the task. For instance, to turn up the volume, you use a twisting motion as if you are using a dial. Another example, to answer a call you point at the screen as if you are answering the call from your iPhone or Android.
4. Volvo and Microsoft ‘Band’ Together
This high profile collaboration has been in the works since 2015, but the technology created out of the partnership was not made available to Volvo drivers until spring 2016.
Volvo and Microsoft have united to develop a technology that seamlessly connects you to your car with the help of the Microsoft Band 2, much like the Ford SYNC, just in a different capacity.
This innovative technology development allows you to complete tasks like adjusting the heater, unlocking the doors, and operating the car’s navigation functions – you can even sound the horn. This car tech allows drivers to talk to their car by using the mobile app “Voice on Call” that connects to the wearable device.
3. BMW Rolls Out a Remote Control Tech Feature
While I tried not to have any repeat automakers in this list, this BMW tech development had to be included. This technology uses a remote control to help you park your BMW 7 Series in tight spots. No joke, we now have a life-size remote control car.
As The Verge explains, the remote control feature “will let the driver park and summon the car without anyone in it.” This is another step in the right direction toward self-driving cars.
Check out this video demonstrating the 2017 BMW 7 Series Remote Control tech feature
2. Google’s Sticky Layer
As of late, Google and its engineers have proven to be major players not only in the tech industry but in the auto world as well. The company’s leaders are pushing for technology advancement and with every new innovation the Google car becomes more progressive.
In 2016 Google patented another one of its self-driving features, Google Sticky Layer. This
technology uses a sticky adhesive at the front end of the car in order to protect pedestrians if they were ever hit by the Google car.
Did you know that Google has patented quite a few parts and technological advancements of its self-driving car – even the door?
1. Tesla’s Upgrades to Autopilot
This year’s winner for Autoblog’s Car Tech Awards is the 2016 Tesla Model S P90D, and for good reason.
This list would not be complete without the leader in EV tech, Tesla. With so many technological advancements this year, it is hard to decide which to include. With Ludicrous Mode, the advanced parking feature, and the automated lane-change are all exceptional feats in the automotive industry, one stands out above them all.
While the self-driving tech advancement doesn’t quite let the Tesla Model S drive completely on its own, it is one of the closest steps towards a fully autonomous car. Technology Reviews is calling Tesla’s Autopilot feature a “breakthrough in technologies” and all it took was a software update since the hardware for a self-driving car already exists within the Tesla Model S.
Even though the original software upgrade was available to Tesla drivers in October 2015, Autoblog explains that in 2016, “Tesla has issued further updates to the software and also allowed the cars to send data back to HQ to continue improving the cars’ self-driving capability.”
Seeing is believing! Check out this video and see just how incredible Tesla’s Autopilot feature is.
So there you have it, a quick glance at some of the top technological automotive advancements of 2016 thus far.
What car is in your future?
As we are only mid-way through the year, you can expect more amazing tech innovation in 2016. Perhaps, I will revisit this list as the year end approaches. Stay tuned!