Ever since Carl Benz patented the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886, the automotive industry has embraced every advancement in technology to improve its products and the lives of people around the world.
Fast forward to the modern day and automotive technology is unrecognisable from even a couple of decades ago. Here’s how technology is driving motoring forward.
Supply chain and manufacturing
Delivering motoring to the mass market relies on streamlined production. The more cars that can be manufactured efficiently in terms of time and investment, the more affordable cars are for end consumers.
The last two decades have seen the transformation of vehicle and component manufacturing, with automated production lines taking over from manual assembly lines which were far more costly and time-consuming.
With a network of IoT devices, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, the automotive supply chain has become a well-oiled machine, churning out nearly 900,000 vehicles per year in the UK alone.
Electrification is perhaps the biggest driving force in the automotive space currently, with attention shifting to the ongoing climate crisis. Electric vehicles run without the need for fossil fuels, reducing the reliance on these heavy carbon-emitting and finite resources.
Battery technology has improved enough now that EV range is no longer a significant limiting factor, encouraging more people to take the leap to electric. Every aspect of the automotive industry is pivoting to EVs, from mechanics upskilling to petrol stations installing more charging points.
Certain tools and skills will remain relevant, such as the need for bottle jacks from suppliers like RS, but many professions may need to retrain to maintain demand.
Along with EV technology, the concept of self-driving cars is becoming a vision of reality rather than fiction. This seems to be where the future of the industry lies, with more vehicles offering automated, or at least semi-automated, driving already.
Artificial intelligence has a crucial role to play here, providing innovative capabilities that keep cars on the road and managing the various risk factors. Further testing is required before complete rollout, but self-driving vehicles are an exciting prospect for logistics, public transport and almost every facet of motoring.
As technology has developed, so has vehicle safety to the benefit of all road users. Features such as lane assist warn drivers of lane departure while driving at speed, while optimised airbag designs help keep passengers safe in the event of a crash.
Design practices now include comprehensive simulation methods to ensure that cars are constructed to protect drivers as much as possible. Innovative materials such as composites provide excellent durability while limiting mass, creating safer vehicles with greater efficiency and performance.
The automotive industry has come a long way in a relatively short time, but its innovation curve is only rising steeper. Soon we’ll see radical changes to the way we drive and ultimately many changes to laws and regulations to match these developments.