The first electric car, or specifically the first electric car that was mass-produced and driven practically, is widely reported as built by the British inventor Thomas Parker in 1884. This invention has gone on to revolutionise how people travel, and development is now accelerating at a rapid rate.
Today, electric cars offer cutting-edge automotive technology and performance, from sub 2.5 second 0 to 60mph acceleration to autonomous driving functionality and solar bodywork. Current cars, and indeed all vehicles, are now packed with an array of sensors. Their functions are to directly aid the driver in terms of driving assistance, provide safety systems for drivers, passengers, and the public, and provide comfort with smart cabin features for drivers and passengers alike.
There are already simple pressure sensors that detect the presence of a passenger, and hence smart airbags deploy at different speeds depending on the weight of the driver and passengers. Driver drowsiness detection is a safety technology that helps to prevent accidents related to fatigue; reportedly accounting for anywhere between 20% and 50% of all accidents – road dependent.
Vehicle systems can look to evaluate the position of the vehicle on the road, monitoring movements to determine whether the vehicle is being moved in a controlled or uncontrolled way, and IR cameras physically monitor the head orientation and eyelid movements of the driver.
Cutting-edge automotive technology
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), are systems developed to automate, adapt, and enhance both safety and better driving. ADAS was first used around 50 years ago with the adoption of the anti-lock braking system. Today ADAS systems work via the use of automated technology such as sensors and cameras to detect nearby obstacles or driver errors and respond accordingly. Recent forecasts reveal the ADAS automotive electronics market revenue is projected to exhibit a CAGR of over 9.5% by 2030, owing to the safety and driving benefits offered by the system. Adaptive cruise control, parking assistance, blind-spot detection, night vision and automated braking systems are now commonplace and not just reserved for the most expensive, luxury vehicles.
Indicative of the rapid technological progress in automotive sensors, the motor vehicles themselves have advanced greatly, with cars that now obtain higher fuel mileage per gallon and are safer as well as more comfortable. Similarly, this can be viewed from the number of sensors used in a vehicle. Whereas cars in the early ’50s had none, the current average vehicle contains 60 to 100 sensors, and we can expect that number to rise as cars get smarter. Recent industry figures suggest the number of sensors is projected to reach as many as 200 per car based on current trends.
Elon Musk announced recently that he expects Tesla to start producing fully autonomous cars, without steering wheels or peddles in 2021/22, and he is not alone in his passion for delivering fully self-driving vehicles. The CAGR projection for autonomous vehicles is over 18% and if current safety and legislation issues are addressed, this market is estimated to reach more than 50 billion GBP, by 2030.
The trend for vehicle sensor capabilities to develop and increase will continue rapidly as self-driving cars become a reality. The continuous development of ADAS systems drive towards autonomous vehicle introduction, offering safety benefits to the drivers and passengers beyond avoiding collisions. Real-time health and wellbeing monitoring will also become an everyday vehicle feature in the not-too-distant future.
As leaders in developing innovative and emerging technology with the incorporation of flexible electronics and sensor systems, In2tec has been providing leading technology solutions to automotive vehicle manufacturers and motorsport OEM’s for over 25 years. With the industry experience, technological capability, and manufacturing process knowledge, we deliver innovative, elegant solutions to meet the most demanding specifications.
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