A simples guide

Exploring the latest and best car technology

Back in the day driving a car was hard work.  There were only four gears, entertainment consisted of a cassette radio, windows had to be rolled down manually and there was no air conditioning. And you had to put your key in the door to unlock it!


Imagine that. Luckily, driving has since become not just more enjoyable but even quite luxurious. The improvements just keep coming, too. The technology in the latest cars is pretty impressive, and there are more developments coming that might just blow your mind. Let's take a look at the latest car tech...


Entertainment + Information = Infotainment

This in-car technology is fitted in most new high spec cars – Ford, Toyota, BMW and Fiat all have their own version.  It's as it sounds – information and entertainment all in one place. It means your car becomes a mobile internet hub, and if you link it to your smartphone you can access many more features, from playing music stored on your phone to streaming it live through the internet. If you're thinking of buying a car that comes with an infotainment system then check out the systems on a range of cars to get the best technology at an affordable price.


Warm up the car before you get in

It's freezing outside and you fancy an extra ten minutes in bed – but you know you'll need to de-ice the car, and that will make you late. With a BMWi3 you don’t need to worry! Just use your iPhone or Apple Watch to tell your car to start defrosting from the warmth of your bed.

In summer, you won’t have to put up with unbearable heat after the car’s been cooking in a sunny car park, you can just set it to cool five minutes before you get in. Another trick the i3 can do is to flash its lights and sound the horn on command... no more wandering around a car park wondering where you left it. It’s a bit expensive, but just think, even if it’s not in your price range just yet, one day this technology will be mainstream.

Car play Vs Android Auto... which would you choose?

The two smartphone giants have made their way into the car world by creating their own in car tech. Car Play is Apple's offering, whilst Android Auto is Google's alternative. Both systems are being rolled out by many of the big car manufacturers and you can also buy it as a standalone system. It allows you to control many features of your phone from the display in your car. You can control it by gesture, voice, push finger display or by using buttons on your car’s control screen. There are apps too and, of course, Google Maps feels very at home in the Android Auto. Unsure of which one you'd choose? Techradar will give you the low down on both.


A car that monitors your health

What if your car could pull over and call for an ambulance if you fainted or had an asthma attack? Ford is currently working on that very possibility, calling it Active Health Monitoring. There could  be many ways the car can check your vital signs like heart rate, glucose levels, even how often you blink… and anything goes haywire, your car will know and help to protect you. Impressive stuff.

Your car may know best

There's already driver assistance technology in place that allows your car to override some of your commands. An example is a car offering automatic support to make sure you do a safe and effective emergency stop. But in the next few years we'll see the car take over more and more.

With the increase in sensor technology cars will know when to protect you even if you don't. For example it could slam the brakes on if it detects an imminent crash – even if your foot’s on the accelerator.

Who needs keys?

You'll never need to worry about losing your keys again, as car manufacturers are planning to do away with them altogether.  You'll need nothing to unlock the car but an app on your phone. This digital key will do everything that a physical key does today: locking or unlocking the doors and boot, and starting the engine.

In theory it means you could hire a car anywhere in the world without ever going to a rental desk. You’d use GPS to find the car, then unlock it and drive away. Volvo are planning to bring keyless cars out as soon as 2017.


Stop the criminals in their tracks

GPS trackers and telematics technologies like that designed by Novero are making it harder to steal a car. They can fit your car with technology which allows you to track and disable your car remotely – leaving a car thief stuck. Maybe there'll come a time when cars just simply can't be stolen. Good news for that insurance premium…

Ever wanted to be a pilot?

Heads-up display (HUD) technology has been around for a while – available from the likes of Garmin and narvdy. It's a clear screen fitted to your windscreen that allows images to be projected from the dash board – like in an aeroplane cockpit. It's linked to your phone so texts and notifications will be beamed onto your screen, alongside sat nav to tell you where to turn next.

Get yourself out of tight spaces

Ever got yourself stuck in a car parking space where it's so tight you can't open your door? Remote parking pilot fitted in the new Mercedes Benz enables you to park your car in the tightest of spaces – and you can get out first! You control the car from the outside using your smartphone. Other companies including BMW are also using the technology.

Don’t bother with driving at all

Ever had to drive when you’d rather be taking a nap? Well, that option isn’t that far from reality. Google have been testing its own self-driving car for three years now. Their strange little white car – with no steering wheel or pedals – can be seen making its way around California. On one occasion it actually passed another self-driving car created by Delphi, with no dramas.

It's chalking up the driverless miles, but Google have no intention of rolling out thousands of these little cars, they'll just partner the technology with a car manufacturer. But there are some manufacturers researching the idea themselves, with some closer than others.

Audi may even release a self-driving car this year. It won't be completely autonomous, we're a few years off that, but none the less it's pretty amazing. Mercedes, on the other hand, have given themselves a bit more time and are designing a super luxurious self-driving car that they hope to have ready for 2030. In this car you'll be able to turn the front seat around to face the back passengers. Would you dare? Sounds scary… but great for a cheeky lie-down on a long journey.

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