Eight Crazy Car Tech Innovations in 2016
Drivers aren’t ready to let go of the steering wheel. A survey done in 2015 found that 43.8 percent of drivers do not want self-driving capabilities in their cars.
Okay, but are you ready for cars to talk to your phone, park themselves, respond to your movements and even help you work out? You will be soon. Not all of these car tech features are brand new, but you’ll be seeing them a lot more in 2016 and beyond. Advanced car technology is typically introduced in luxury models, then becomes widespread. Here’s a look at what’s new.
The 8 Best Car Innovations of 2016
1. Gesture Control
In the 2016 BMW 7 Series, your finger becomes a magic wand. When you place your hand above the shifter, an infrared camera detects your movements, allowing you to control certain features. Answer a Bluetooth call by pointing at the screen, or adjust the music volume by twirling your finger.
Warning: Don’t flip off other drivers, or you might accidentally switch the radio to smooth jazz.
2. 3D Surround View
Rear-view cameras are old car technology now; in fact, every new vehicle will have them by 2018. Surround-view cameras are something different. They give the driver a nearly 360-degree picture of what’s around the vehicle by combining footage from several cameras around the car’s body. “It’s as if you have your own autonomous drone hovering 50 feet above the sunroof, sending an image to the center stack,” Extreme Tech explains. The BMW 7 Series goes one step further by allowing the driver to use gesture control to spin the image around with the wave of a finger.
3. Apple CarPlay
Ever wish your car dash worked more like your iPhone? Now it can. With Apple’s new CarPlay system, your iPhone connects to an in-dash display that shows directions, messages, music and more. There’s no excuse for fumbling with your phone when you’re driving, because Siri can read and reply to text messages via voice control. More than 100 car models are compatible with CarPlay; Chevrolet has integrated it into several 2016 models.
4. Android Auto
Not to be outdone by Apple, Google is rolling out its own car interface, Android Auto. It has some neat features Apple doesn’t, such as Google Now: a constantly refreshed stream of information about things like weather, traffic notifications and suggested shortcuts.
But which car tech is better? That depends. CNET test-drove them both and says that while CarPlay has a simpler, more elegant interface, it only supports iOS messaging and maps. Android Auto has better maps and supports third-party apps, like WhatsApp and Skype.
5. An In-Car Fitness Program
Know that achy feeling in your legs when you’ve just spent five hours in your private jet? Yeah, we don’t either. But if you do need to stretch (and if someone else is driving your car), the BMW 7 Series’ Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package option includes “a Vitality Program that guides a passenger through a series of isometric exercises presented on the 10-inch rear-seat entertainment system screens and performed by pressing parts of the body into the seat back and cushions.”
6. Fuel Cell Technology
Hydrogen fuel cell cars aren’t new car technology, but they’ve been available only via leasing to a few enthusiasts. That’s beginning to change in 2016 with the introduction of Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell sedan, which will go on sale for about $60,000. The Toyota Mirai is also available for around the same price. Why are fuel-cell cars so cool? They run on hydrogen gas, produce only water vapor and have a range of 300 miles or more. Right now, however, they can only be driven in southern California, where a network of fueling stations is in place.
7. Remote-Control Parking
Need to squeeze into a tight spot? Center your 7 Series in front of the space, hop out and press the remote-park button on your key fob. The car slowly glides forward and parks itself. We have to admit, the 2016 BMW 7 Series seems like something James Bond should be driving.
8. Semi-Autonomous Driving
You can’t hop into the front of the 2017 Volvo S90, clap your hands and say “To the grocery store!” But you can trust the S90 (available at the end of 2016) to accelerate, brake, and steer at speeds up to 80 mph, as long as lane markings can be seen by the system’s cameras. “Volvo says the S90 will be the first car sold in the U.S. with semi-autonomous driving as a standard feature,” Car & Driver reports. Whoa.
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