TechPost #3

The Future of Automobiles

TechPost #3 focuses on passenger cars technology and is written from a perspective in year 2029 looking back at the milestones that led to the final version of the technology.

Introduction

The technological advancement in automobiles have evolved rapidly since its first conception by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769 (Library of Congress, 2009).  The development of the assembly line led to the ability to produce cars on a massive scale.  Efficiency, safety, comfort, and in-car technology are only some of the advancement in the auto industry that have taken place over the years.  Contrary to what people believed 30 years ago, cars today are still road going vehicles, not an air / ground hybrid.  Which meant that a future with flying cars was never realized.  Automobiles today virtually emits no pollution.  Exhaust so clean, cars no longer contribute to global warming.  There were two crucial technological milestone in the history of modern automobiles.  The first milestone took place in 2015 and the second milestone took place five years later in 2020.  This year, nine years later from the second milestone, we witnessed a third milestone in the automotive industry.

First Milestone (2015)

The first milestone in modern car history was set in the year 2015 when engineers at the VAG (Volkswagen Auto Group) developed a new type of exhaust fluid (Loss, 2015).  The idea worked on a similar technology developed years ago for the diesel engine.  In the case of the diesel engine, a urea solution is injected to the exhaust.  This was the technology that allowed for a 50 state legal diesel car.  Engineers from Volkswagen Group developed a special solution called LiquiClear™ that uses chemical catalysers to decompose exhaust emission.  LiquiClear™ was a revolutionary product in the automotive development because unlike its diesel urea fluid counterpart, LiquiClear™ eliminates 100% of the emission (Loss, 2015).  Although, it was a successful product in eliminating emission in vehicles, it did not address our dependency on fossil fuels.  In the same year,  four German automakers collaborated to create an ultra efficient internal combustion engine powered by an alternative renewable fuel.  Electric and Fuel Cell vehicles development ceased around 2010 due to reliability issues and environmental concerns regarding disposal of batteries.  The most prominent reason of the lack of popularity and demand on electric cars is the lack of an engine feel.  Driving an electric car yields an “austere feeling” to the driver as there is no “sense of a mechanical build-up” (Woods, 2013).

Second Milestone (2020)

The five year long research collaboration of the four German automakers finally bore fruit in 2020.  The collaboration also resulted in new partnerships with fuel refineries for developing renewable alternative fuel.  Shell, Chevron, and Esso established a new rapidly renewable alternative fuel called NET™ (Clarkson, 2020).  With the NET™, LiquiClear™, and the new line of ultra efficient internal combustion engines, efficiency has reached its maximum potential and emissions became the word of the past.  To help embrace the new technology, government offered incentives and tax credits to buyers of the new line of vehicle.  With no emissions to worry about, the automobile technology was believed to be at a mature stage.  However,  during the 10 years of heavy engine and fuel developments, automakers seemed to have forgotten the case for safety.

Final version

In Q1 2029, Volvo addressed the safety issue by pioneering a real time autopilot assistance technology called AVT™ (Autopilot Vehicle Technology).  This technology offers an automatic autopilot assistance in various conditions.  AVT™ became the standard for autopilot systems used by all automakers.  Cars equipped with AVT™ employ sensors around the vehicle and proximity communication with other vehicles within 2km radius (Volvo Cars, 2029).  AVT™ can be used as a part-time intervention system or a full-time autopilot function, but it is a non-defeatable system, meaning that it is never fully deactivated.  In part-time mode, the system will only activate if an imminent collision is bound to happen.  The system will warn surrounding vehicles and employ a “calculated evasive manoeuvre” to completely avoid collision or at the very least, minimize damage on impact (Volvo Cars, 2029).  All this is done without driver input, as AVT™ will take full control of the car on those conditions.  The full-time mode can be used for a full autopilot control.  The car that “drives itself” was finally “possible through AVT™” (Teng, 2029).  In fact, AVT™ was incredibly effective that the system alone reduced the number of automotive accidents by 90%.  AVT™ was unanimously awarded the “Best New Technology of The Decade” by auto journalists all around the world on July 2029(Teng, 2029).  By September 2029, the World Highway Safety Institute released a law that required AVT™ on all new cars produced after 2029.

Conclusion

Automobile has undergone a giant leap forward in efficiency and safety since its first conception.  The introduction of new of emission regulations and depleting fossil fuel reserve forced manufacturers to attempt the impossible.  LiquiClear™, NET™, and the new line of ultra efficient internal combustion engines  solved the emission problem while still providing “the feel of a traditional gasoline engine” (Teng, 2029).  Safety also improved significantly due to the invention of AVT™.  Although so much have changed in the technology concerning the automobile, it is amazing to see that the sole purpose of an automobile did not change.  It continues to serve as a mean of personal transportation.

References:

Library of Congress.  (2009).  Who Invented the Automobile?.  Retrieved April 7, 2010, from

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/auto.html

Loss M. (2015).  Top Gear Magazine: Emission Free Car Generation.  London: Top Gear

Publishing.

Woods T. (2013).  Death of the Electric Car.  Los Angeles, CA: LA Times.

Clarkson R. (2020).  Ultra efficient engines and New Fuel Era. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Volvo Cars. (2029).  AVT™ press release. Sweden: Volvo Cars.

Teng V. (2029).  AJAC: The evolution of Car. Vancouver, BC:  Canwest.

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~ by vincentteng on April 8, 2010.

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