31 Jan Driving the Future: Vehicle Technology and the Future
By: Alexandra Straub, Driving Television
Vehicle Technology and the Future who knew what was to come? Growing up, my 1991 Toyota Corolla station wagon had no bells and whistles. Okay, maybe that’s an understatement. I did have a tape deck and a radio, though the speakers on the driver’s side went on permanent vacation in the late 90s, so my only luxury became a half luxury.
The car didn’t come with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). Nor did it have any electronic traction aids, Bluetooth, heated seats, power windows, or the conveniences known as modern-day standards. It didn’t come with GPS either. I know, it’s hard to believe!
Though, it’s difficult to imagine a car these days without some sort of navigation system. Whether that’s built-in from the manufacturer or added as an accessory. For example, GM/Chevrolet’s MyLink system is essentially mirror of your phone and allows you to use a GPS system that you’ve downloaded, for pennies in comparison to a nav option that can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, you’d pay as an added option. And various automaker’s offer Apple CarPlay for iPhone users. Even the most affordable of cars have the option of outfitting them with technological bliss. I couldn’t live where I live without my apps connect package! I literally would be lost.
The geographical coordinates, or maps, for these systems come from somewhere. Sometimes they’re linked with a recognized global brand like TomTom or Garmin, or sometimes they’re proprietary. Then the images displayed need to have a brain of their own; usually done through a GPU or a graphics processing unit. Recent Mercedes-Benz, or Audi or even Tesla model’s I’ve driven lately have incredible visuals displayed on pristine screens. Those images, in all their glorious clarity, are the sum of a system that translates information faster than I can fathom. GPUs along with HD map coverage are also the systems that allow for the advancement of autonomous driving, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and more.
While I don’t claim to completely understand the complexities of how these systems work – in fact, I probably haven’t even scratched the surface – I do revel in their simplicity of use and the convenience it affords me on a daily basis. And I’m grateful for it!
Vehicle Technology and the Future
Think of it this way: when we see a movie, we only see a sliver of the elements that it takes to create an hour and a half of entertainment. If you stick around for the credits, you’ll see hundreds upon hundreds of names who work in the background, tirelessly, so your favourite actor looks and sounds their best. I like to think of these as the GPUs/HD maps to my navigation system. And in order to have the best quality, you need to have the best team behind you.
I recently had the opportunity to attend an event somewhat outside of my normal automotive rhythm: a tech conference. Held in Amsterdam, the GTC, hosted by NVIDIA, highlighted not only the GPUs needed for gaming, but also what helps drive the automotive industry in bringing forth the use of autonomous driving technology. The NVIDIA Corporation is an American technology company based in Santa Clara, California and it designs graphics processing units (GPU) for the gaming market, as well as system on a chip units for the mobile computing and automotive market. They mention that, “Tomorrow’s cars will have rich, virtual digital cockpits that require complete system and software integration. NVIDIA processors power the digital cockpits and infotainment systems of some of the world’s most innovative cars, including models from Audi, BMW, Honda, Lamborghini, Tesla and VW. There are over 8 million cars with NVIDIA processors on the road today, and 25 million more coming.” You’ve probably heard cars now being referred to as “driven computers,” and that claim is not far off. It’s incredible what our cars can do for us, and it’s only going to become more amazing.
Over the next couple blog posts, I’ll dig a little deeper and highlight how the tech world is working in close partnership with automakers, not only to help self-driving cars become a reality, but also how they can streamline vehicle design and execution process through virtual reality