Car Safety Tech of the Future

Dave Nichols
July 3, 2024
In the next 10 years, we’ll be seeing an amazing and transformative array of new safety technologies in cars that will greatly reduce traffic accidents and improve our safety and security on the road. Here’s a look at what’s coming.
graphic showing future safety technology

Vehicle Safety and New Technology

For over 100 years, the biggest safety issue with automobiles has been their drivers. Human beings are far from perfect – and the number one reason for most car accidents continues to be human error.  But, technology is on its way that will greatly reduce the number of road accidents.

Safety systems in cars have greatly evolved from the early days. It started with simple seat belts, then crumple zones, air bags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and more recently, to a whole new array of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) available on the latest automobiles.

These systems use cameras, sensors, radar, lidar, and other technologies to help prevent injury and death due to collisions. Driver assistance systems are evolving fast, and currently include:

  • Pedestrian detection and avoidance
  • Lane departure warning and lane-keep assist
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot detection and monitoring
  • Parking assist

Put all of these driver assist features together and you have the beginning of autonomous driving.

Semi-autonomous driving allows the vehicle to detect when other objects such as cars, trucks, animals and people are getting too close to our cars and then works to brake when necessary, or even steer the vehicle out of the way of danger.

front interior screen with maps

New Vehicle Safety Features

Remarkable new technologies are being developed across the board, and will soon be available on the next generation of cars to further reduce the chance of having an accident. With the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence, cars will soon be equipped with driver assists that can interpret complex situations and react to different scenarios, thus becoming even better at avoiding potential accidents.

In just a few years, vehicles will be able to scan and react to driving situations in real time, constantly monitoring what is around your car and react appropriately to keep you cushioned in a bubble of safety.

Biometrics Bring a New Level of Security

Safety actually begins when you unlock your car. Biometric sensing technologies will identify you with the use of facial recognition, or your fingerprint can be integrated into the ignition system.

A facial scan (like equivalent systems in smartphones) can unlock your car and allow you to drive it, without the use of a key. Once the biometric system recognizes you, it can also automatically set up the car for your specified settings for seating position, climate control, and infotainment preferences such as radio presets.

These systems will log the preferences of each authorized user without compromising security. AI and machine learning will also help to enhance biometrics to eliminate cybersecurity threats. Two examples:

  • German automaker BMW is now using voice recognition as part of its Intelligent Personal Assistant, controlling access to natural language commands for the infotainment and other vehicle systems.
  • Hyundai has introduced fingerprint recognition in some of its models.

Ultimately, biometrics will ensure a seamless access to vehicles, with no need for traditional keys, greatly reducing the danger of car theft.

Besides increased security, biometric technology will also be able to monitor the driver’s pulse and heart rates through eye tracking, for indications of fatigue, distracted driving, or even medical emergencies, triggering alerts or warnings when necessary. In cases where the driver does not respond to prompts, the car may even be able to take control and pull safely to the side of the road to alert paramedics.

Automakers such as Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen are all looking into biometrics.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) aka Hive Mind

Vehicle-to-everything technology (V2X) uses the car’s various sensors and wireless connectivity features to communicate with other vehicles around it, sharing real-time information with drivers, vehicles, traffic lights, and even the authorities. This technology will someday create a sort of “hive mind” for vehicles to improve traffic flow and reduce the risk of collisions.

Imagine if all smart vehicles could sync up, using their sensors such as cameras, radar and lidar to feed information to the overall traffic grid. V2X technology will not only reduce the chance of accidents, but could also improve overall fuel efficiency.

V2X communication technology could also revolutionize safety on the road. When cars can communicate with each other and the surrounding infrastructure about their real-time position, speed, and direction, autonomous systems will be able to work together, sharing changing traffic conditions and potential hazards.

With all this in mind, cybersecurity for vehicles will be of the utmost importance. The interconnectivity of V2X technology will make cars targets for cyberattacks – but over-the-air updates and more sophisticated encryption will help reduce such threats.

This technology is currently being developed by Toyota, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz.

Augmented Reality

As we enter a driving landscape in which vehicles communicate in a seamless manner to enhance safe travel, augmented reality (AR) technology could be used in concert with advanced heads-up display to project important information onto the windshield. This might include trip information, suggestions for side trips or interesting sights, nearby restaurants, hotels, and the nearest EV charging stations.

Automakers such as BMW, Ford, General Motors and Jaguar are working on augmented reality technology.

Vehicle Maintenance Technology

Maintenance will become easier down the road, as cars will monitor their own systems to alert drivers when maintenance needs to be scheduled, or advise them when a part or component is likely to fail. This should greatly reduce breakdowns on the road, and hopefully eliminate many accidents that are caused by mechanical failure.

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

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