To stay competitive in the constantly advancing world of technology, most industries are forced to be creative with ways to incorporate innovations. This push has led to a wide range of inventions, from self-tying shoes to cities with IQs. An obvious area in which to make these necessary adaptations is the automobile industry. Already within the first two months of 2019, we have seen national auto shows like Detroit’s and Chicago’s debuting new tech through the use of “concept” cars. These cars show off creative, physical, and mechanical ideas of the future.
The Auto Technology of Today
The modern assimilation of advanced technology and cars has been focused on conserving energy, increasing speed, and autonomous driving. However, one of the largest accomplishments of the tech and auto industry crossover in the past decade is battery-powered vehicles. The first car to run solely on electricity and approved to be mass-produced was the Tesla Roadster. Tesla has since strategically released its patents covering their creation to the public. Today, electric and hybrid electric cars are offered by the most recognized car companies at varying price tags.
Modern technologies found on the road today range from wireless mobile connectivity, 360-degree cameras, and self-parking features to adaptive cruise control. Amazon Alexa, the interactive virtual voice assistant, is another recent integration that can be found in select cars since 2017.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has technology that can maintain a safe position within lanes and change them upon activating the turning signal. Tesla also continues to lead in this integrated industry with their famous 2018 Tesla Model S that assists in parallel parking, along with lane changes, pace keeping, and transitioning from the highway to streets.
The ktMINE patent database provides the opportunity to take a look at what the future of technology and cars might have in store for us. Here are some interesting incorporations that may be in the works.
Something Witty about Clean Cars
A patent titled “Vehicle Cleanliness Detection Systems And Methods” was granted this month to Ford Global Tech LLC. This system uses external cameras to take pictures of a car from different angles, as shown in the image below, to detect whether the car needs to be cleaned. Imagine simply getting into your car and having it tell you it’s time to head to the car wash.
While various forms of autonomy can be found in today’s cars, the ability to drive through traffic with no human assistance is not currently available to the public. Through the combination of cameras, sensors, electric steering motors, laser scanners, and brake actuators, self-driving cars are being tested by companies such as Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. There are many patents behind the technology Waymo is using to produce their semi-autonomous car. One of the patents relates to car performing services such as predicting where a driver wants to go and starting the driving process towards a destination. Though these cars are being tested to operate independently, they will still be produced to be reliant on the control of the driver should something go wrong.
Patent Filings Might Not be Slowing Down, But Your Car Could Be!
There are so many different applications and inventions that allow you to track things such as your phone, wallet, and even your friends. However, tracking features have room for growth within the auto industry. While tracking systems are slowly being integrated into cars, a patent owned by Aptiv Technologies Ltd. takes it a step further by not only tracking and monitoring the movement of a car but signaling it to slow down when needed. Soon, we can expect a similar feature in Teslas, which allow you to “summon” or control the movement of your car, while in sight.
Hover Vehicles: An Actual Reality?
Hovercrafts have been a common theme in many futuristic television shows. This once unimaginable idea might be becoming a reality sooner than we think. This concept of a hover vehicle shown below was assigned to a Japanese dry load bank company by the inventor and published in January of this year. The vehicle plans to hover by blasting air on the ground.
Possible Future Industry Leaders
The automobile companies currently dominating in patent volume within the tech and auto industry are Ford Motor Co. and General Motors (GM) Co., two of the top automobile production companies headquartered in the United States. Although the patent results from GM include around 700 more of their subsidiaries than Ford, Ford leads in both applied and granted patents for 2018. Additionally, GM historically has had more patent activity than Ford, but because Ford’s increase is recent, it’s likely related to newer, more relevant technology. Just a glance at Ford’s recent patent activity shows that they are dabbling in their own autonomous car. A look at Tesla’s overall patent count, seen below, compared to Ford’s and GM’s proves quantity does not always equal quality. Even still, there’s a seemingly infinite amount of advancements on the horizon, and thus continuous growth to be made for automobile companies to successfully integrate this technology.