Present cars are already pretty smart, but future cars are going to be amazing! Currently a car will get you out of a rut on a rainy day and drive you to an ocean, rainforest or the local fish and chip shop for some oily solace. Cars are wonderful machines packed with reasons to jump in – ranging from visiting friends, getting space from the kids or offering up an arena to let that little voice, the Opera singer inside you, out!
Well – if you think this moving-chunk-of-metal is good in terms of the lifestyle it affords you, check out how changes in technology have made your blessed beast the amazing machine it is.
1. Design and assembly
Once upon a time the humble vehicle was made by hand. Take Henry Ford for example. It took him five years to develop his original Model A, using assembly stands on which the whole vehicle was built by a team of trades. Yes it was tedious back then. He could probably envisage future cars back then. But could he have known there would be computers in factories sitting up late into the night scribbling out components, techy specs, body parts, paint colors, interior assembly plans and chassis systems? It’s hard to say. But Henry Ford would be happy to know that there is still a little old-fashioned play in the mix. Industrial plasticine or clay is still actually used to construct either full-size or scaled-down models prior to production. Sounds like a fun job for an adult! But mostly assembly floors are run entirely by robots and other automated processes.
On this note, I often wish I could automate more processes in my life, such as putting dishes in the dishwasher and putting laundry in the machine, taking it out, folding it and putting it away.
I don’t think I’d be asking too much would I?
I’m picturing a future when us mums are living in homes with little robots walking ahead of us, doing pretty much everything apart from giving out cuddles. I can’t wait for that day. I hope I live to see it.
Then there’s my work, which requires that my brain does a big daily workout. If I had to think about making my car work too – I think I’d self-combust! So while I randomly drive my car around for school drop-offs and pick ups, petrol stops, trips to the supermarket and more – I’m happy my humble little car is doing the thinking for me.
Here are four ways your car is saving your brain so you don’t have to think as much
1. Engine Control Unit (ECU)
Cars have a little computer unit called an ECU or PCM (powertrain control module). Like your brain, this contraption communicates with the engine and determines how to make the thing run. Almost every engine function is delivered by the ECU, such as:
- Air/fuel mix
- Ignition timing
Future cars will do much more than this little list.
While it’s nice to know your car has a brain, unlike humans, it is actually a legal requirement to have one. While I don’t have someone knocking on my door once a year, checking my brain is working, your car does!
Yes – the ECU in a car needs to be updated and upgraded to run better.
Note: I am a firm believer humans need to do the same in terms of their brain because pretty much if you don’t use it – you’ll lose it. I recommend eating more fish and reading a book once a week as a humble start to keeping your brain ship-shape!
Anyway, by tweaking an ECU, you can alter the air to fuel ratio, horsepower and torque in order to boost the power and speed of your car. While you can do this yourself, the best way to optimise your ECU for improved engine performance, is to visit a specialist like www.pureperformancemotorsport.com .
2. Other onboard computers
My car isn’t the latest and greatest. You can read about escapades in my car here. So I have to do ‘old- fashioned’ tasks like park the thing myself (the good ole’ perfect parallel park my Dad taught me), use a key to open it, and adjust the seats myself!
I am looking forward to the day of future cars where I can get a miraculous moving computer network with a sophisticated system of controls and sensors for various functions like these:
- Automatic transmission
- Anti-lock braking system
- Alarm and engine immobiliser
- Climate control
- Electric window central locking
- Keyless entry
- Motorised seats and mirrors (that can remember the settings for multiple drivers)
- Automatic wiper control
- Airbag control unit
- Parking aid
- Music centre
- Mobile phone connectivity (with call and text capabilities)
- Cruise control systems
With this list – I could probably grab some shut-eye on the way to school drop-off – surely?
3. Servicing and maintenance
In the good old days nice people of the world would take their cars off to their local mechanic. I’m picturing an oily smelling guy in blue overalls with a rag hanging out of his pocket and a toothless smile. He’d sniff around under the hood, and skate under the car on his back, to determine the problem, solution and then the cost. He’d usually give me nice deal and I’d skip away happy.
But these days computers in present and future cars prevent breakdowns before they happen. If you think of your own car, usually these notification are the bunch of blinking lights on your dash that happen when you run out of water, oil and brake fluid. Not all at the same time hopefully.
Hell. You can’t do anything wrong in a modern car without it bleeping back at you. Modern mechanics are much more clean-shaven and they usually have all their teeth. They will simply check the car’s diagnostic information from the vehicle’s computer to pinpoint the exact problem, enabling fast and accurate repairs.
Note: Just so you know. The mechanic is the crisp looking guy holding a clipboard and ticking things off his list 🙂
4. What your future car might do
Here’s a short preview of a few of the ways your future car will save your brain. I’m sending this to my mother-in-law who road to school on a horse!
- Communicate with other cars on the road
- Drive itself
- Reality dashboard
- Airbags that help stop cars
- Energy storing body panels
- Pay for your Macca’s at Drive-Through
Computers sure have changed the world. I remember the days I wrote university essays in long hand and travelled the world without a mobile phone. Such freedom.
Next time you get in your car ask yourself – is my car smarter than me? What will future cars be like? Then thank your car for doing all the thinking for you – while you enjoy the ride.