Note: This article is by Albert A. of Columbia University, the winner of ShearComfort’s Automotive Scholarship for the Spring 2018 school semester.
Connectivity has always been a concept that drives technological advancement. Humans are social creatures, and we want to be connected to each other and the world around us. From the discovery of the telephone to the development of the Internet, innovation seems to be fueled by our ever-growing need to be connected. Since the adoption of cell phones into our everyday lives, connectivity has become a necessity rather than a convenience. This need to be connected has taken over technological innovation and will be a significant part of the next automotive.
The Automotive Evolution
The automotive industry has been slowly evolving since the mass production of the Model T in 1908. We are moving out of an industry where vehicles are stand-alone, mechanically controlled, and petroleum-fueled into an industry that will soon promote interconnected vehicles that will be–and in some cases already are–electronically powered and fueled by a range of resources. I believe that we will see more change in the automotive industry in the upcoming ten years than we have seen in the last fifty, which presents those of us in the automotive industry with an exciting opportunity to make vehicles more capable, sustainable, and connected than ever
More and more people will own autonomous vehicles in the upcoming years. The rise of the autonomous vehicle has already changed the way we look at cars and transportation. In the near future, vehicles will no longer be seen simply as machines that get us from one place to another; vehicles will be integrated into the technology that is already a part of our lives. Car companies have quickly adapted into software companies. At the end of the day, a car is the only computer that you can sit inside, and the automotive industry has set out to make this mobile computer more of an interactive experience. In the near future, our everyday devices will be capable of communicating with our cars. Additionally, our cars might one day be capable of communicating with each other, which may help in reducing car accidents. It will soon be commonplace for people to talk to their cars just as they talk to Alexa, and the cars will respond. It will certainly be difficult for the general public to quickly adopt major changes such as these. Nonetheless, we are on our way to traveling in a more actively connected
My Evolution in the Automotive Industry
As I move through my math and engineering education, I hope to stay open-minded about the future of the car industry. By the time I enter the workforce, I suspect some of the changes I have outlined will have already come to fruition. However, it will be imperative that I am prepared to be more creative than the automotive design engineers before me. It will be vital for me to push the boundaries of my own creativity because automobiles are evolving into technology that has the capability of being as connected to the outside world as the phones in our pockets. In my daily work, I would do well to remember that connectivity is a catalyst for technological advancement. In order to make myself a part of the major upcoming changes in the automotive industry, I will have to stop looking at cars as transportation machines and start looking at them as mobile experiences.