Fully automated cars may be a few years off, but there’s still plenty of innovation happening in the automotive world. Once considered luxuries, many high-tech features are rapidly becoming baseline. Picking the right specs can be overwhelming, but there are a few standout features that anyone in the market for a new car should make sure is included in their next vehicle.
1. Bluetooth Connectivity
From computer keyboards to speaker systems, wired connections are a thing of the past. Since space in most vehicles is at a premium, Bluetooth has naturally been adopted by many auto manufacturers. Smartphones have quickly replaced car stereos and GPS systems thanks to the versatility and condensed nature smartphone apps offer, so choosing a car which will link with your chosen device is an obvious choice. Another advantage of this setup is that most of these features are voice activated and can therefore be accessed hands-free, helping to reduce the chance of car accidents.
2. Heads-Up Display
Car heads-up displays (HUDs) straddle the line between convenience and safety, simultaneously improving the driving experience while also lowering the risk of car accidents. Projected directly onto the car’s windshield, HUDs place useful information squarely in the driver’s line of sight, all without being obstructive or distracting. Adapted from tech used by the military in their fighter jets, consumer HUDs can be used to display speed, navigation info, the local speed limit, and even stereo controls like track listing and volume, all conveniently onto the windshield.
3. Automatic Braking
Perhaps the greatest safety feature since the advent of the seat belt, automatic emergency brakes have already saved countless lives and prevented car accidents in situations where a driver’s reaction time simply isn’t enough. The systems typically work by first alerting the driver with a visual or audio cue of an impending collision. If the driver doesn’t respond quickly enough, the vehicle applies the brakes automatically. Mazda, Tesla, BMW, and Ford are just a few of the long list of companies to include this feature, so it’s relatively easy to find a vehicle with automatic braking in any style and price range.
4. Semi-Autonomous Driving
It’s clear that self-driving cars are the future, and while full automated road trips are still a few years away, drivers can still benefit from limited integration of autonomous driving. System’s like the Tesla Autopilot might be disappointed to realize the limitations, but while only offering situational usefulness, semi-autonomy is still a feature worth getting. Similar to cruise control but significantly safer, semi-autonomy is best suited to highways and other long stretches with consistent speed limits. Mercedes’ Drive Pilot can be set to follow a lead car at a set speed and distance, for example, so what these systems lack in full autonomy, they make up for in other unique features.
Self-parking systems are surprisingly old, with the first versions developed at the tail-end of the 1990’s, but the tech has improved dramatically since then. Available in a range of vehicles from Volvo, Toyota, Chrysler, and other manufacturers, these vehicles have built-in rear sensors that enable them to handle difficult angled maneuvers and parallel parking. This feature is especially useful for city parking, where simultaneously paying attention to both parked cars and surrounding traffic can prove difficult for even the most experienced drivers.
The New Standard
While flying cars will probably remain relegated to the pages of science fiction novels, vehicles of today still have plenty of exciting high-tech features. From simple comforts to life-saving systems, these features are no longer just perks found in luxury models and instead are becoming industry standards. Whatever your next car purchase may be, you can expect it to be packed with technologies that are not only fun, but also make roads safer for you and other drivers.