Article, originally published at Venture Beat
By David Drake
In less than a generation, the car, as we know it, will become a 3D printed smartphone on wheels that you can share with other people. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the interweaving between technology and the automotive industry sets the stage for more mind-blowing innovations. Here are three big changes on the way:
1. The car will be its own driver
There are already several prototypes of a mean, “green” machine that will take full control of your daily commute, while you sit back and enjoy the ride. Big players like Daimler, as well as newcomers in the industry, like Tesla, have already road-tested their autonomous vehicles with great success. Even IT giants such as Apple or Baidu are entering the market with new chauffer-less concepts destined to satisfy a larger spectrum of needs for their consumers by 2020.
The new generation of cars will base their navigation on a 3D mapping system stored in the onboard computer. A highly impressive software solution is the “vehicle to everything” (V2E) technology that Delphi Automotive is preparing to showcase during next year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This technology uses a chip-based system to communicate with other cars, pedestrians’ smartphones, and even traffic lights. The software will analyze all the contributing data to avoid the impact with an incoming obstacle and prevent an accident.
2. Your car will need the Internet more than it needs you
With the constant rise of smartphone technology, the need to connect all electronic equipment has grown stronger. The new breed of vehicles makes no exception. Tomorrow’s cars will be equipped with a high-tech operating module complete with constantly updated data about the road ahead, weather, and traffic conditions to determine its speed and movement. More than that, the cars will act as wireless routers to share Internet with other vehicles on the road. The geographical position of the car will be tracked and monitored, making stolen property, getaway cars, and even accident victims significantly easier to trace.
3. 3D printing will make your mechanical abilities obsolete
The automotive industry is slowly but surely leaving behind traditional machine building tools and mechanisms. Nowadays, there is a strong emphasis placed on 3D printed car parts. This technology allows engineers to print and test prototype parts at a lower cost and at a higher degree of freedom than before, which ultimately leads to the optimization of many components.
We are dealing with a new step in the evolution of car building techniques. Not long ago, workers were being replaced by robots in almost every factory in the world. Human error had become a thing of the past and automation reigned supreme. At the moment, we are witnessing the return of professional engineers with an eye for graphic design and a solid understanding of the 3D printing technology. Sooner or later, you will be able to download, print, and assemble the car of your dreams in your own garage.
The automotive industry has not overlooked the rapid ascent of today’s technology and communication devices; instead, the industry is constantly adapting to the latest electronic trends. Placing your life into the app of a 3D-printed, self-driving, Internet-sharing vehicle that speeds down the highway at 80mph might sound a bit hazardous. However, we must keep in mind that a little over a century ago nobody believed horse-drawn carriages would ever go out of style.