The advent of new technologies over the past 20 years has helped make our cars safer, more efficient, and easier to repair. Technology has also helped redefine the way we shop for cars by connecting buyers with numerous online resources to help them find, evaluate, and compare makes and models. Now, technology will take the car industry to a new level faster than ever before, leaving it looking quite different from how it does today.

Safer Cars

Technology has made driving less dangerous. Thanks to digital cameras which are small enough to be mounted all around the car, drivers can see all of the hidden objects surrounding their vehicle from one conveniently placed screen. Combined with sensors, these cameras also help drivers park without damaging their vehicle or the surrounding objects and people. In addition to parking sensors, many of today’s cars also come with collision warning sensors, lane change assist sensors, tire pressure sensors, and more.

Computer use has also enhanced cars’ safety. While car computing goes as far back as the 70’s and 80’s, advances made since the 90’s have put a number of systems such as GPS, parking assist, cruise control, engine temperature, and more under computer control.

More Efficient Cars

Environmental concerns have led manufacturers to design more fuel efficient vehicles. More efficient fuels have also been developed. In addition, thanks to powerful monitoring software, vehicles can detect problems with the engine or other parts of the car and alert drivers about them.

Cars are Easier to Fix

Today’s onboard computers help diagnose less obvious problems quicker and easier than ever before. They are so sophisticated that someone with knowledge of cars can even discover the problem at home by using a special auto diagnostic scanner and reading the results on his or her laptop.

Car Buying is Different

Car buyers used to visit three to four dealerships before making a purchase. Now, thanks to the Internet, they visit an average of just 1.9. Most of people’s research is now done online before they come to the lot to buy. Therefore, car dealerships have had to bolster and update their online presence to attract people to stop in their lot instead of the competing one.

Technology Will Fundamentally Change Cars over the Next 100 Years

2016 will be remembered as the start of a major revolution in the automotive industry. The convergence of connectivity, electrification, and evolving consumer needs is predicted to change the auto industry more in the next decade than it has changed in the last five decades.

New connectivity features are reshaping the driving experience in dramatic ways. Smart dashboards are an increasingly popular feature in new makes and models. They act in conjunction with smartphones to read out text messages, answer calls, find driving directions, play music, and more. New cars also come equipped with Wi-Fi that can support up to seven devices, effectively turning the vehicle into a rolling mobile hub. It is expected that 75 percent of all cars around the world will be connected to the Internet in this fashion by 2020.

What is especially revolutionary about this feature is that it allows cars to communicate with each other over a dedicated Wi-Fi band through a system called V2V. Cars will be able to share information about their speed, direction of travel, traffic conditions, and weather reports in order to detect hidden obstacles and help automatic systems take over and prevent crashing from happening.

These updated smart systems will likely also eventually give way to fully autonomous cars, the technology for which is already available today. Using a laser range mounted atop the car to generate a detailed 3D map of the surrounding environment, Google’s 2014 car is able to navigate and drive itself. Although drivers had to manually intervene to stop these cars from crashing 13 times between September 2014 and November 2015, the technology will continue to be developed until it is perfected.

Finally, the petrol-fueled cars of today will likely become as ancient as their fuel source. New battery technologies are presently allowing for the development of highly efficient gas-electric hybrids, and these technologies are only expected to develop with further research. In addition, we already have cars that run on rechargeable batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, which are also expected to get more advanced with additional research.