It’s fair to say that drivers today are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding new tech to add to our vehicles. With Bluetooth speaker systems making it easy to communicate hands-free, cruise control keeping us on track, and a built in digital map to ensure we never lose our way, the choice is endless when it comes to improving our driving experience. Just a decade ago, however, cars were much simpler, and came without any of the bells and whistles that we are now so accustomed to. But just how far has vehicle technology advanced – and what new technologies are being developed right now? Luxury vehicle dealership Grange, who stock the stunning Mclaren 570 Gt, are here to find out.
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Improvements to Sat-Nav
Sat nav is essential for the modern driver – especially for those commutes where you aren’t entirely sure of the best route to take. However, it was only a couple of decades ago that motorists had to memorize directions before they got behind the wheel, or at least had a collection of fold-out maps in their glovebox to analyse whenever they took a break from driving.
To trace the inspiration behind sat-nav, we should look towards the US military for answers. This was because it was the US Department of Defense which developed the first satellite-based global positioning technology on behalf of the country’s military forces. Deemed TRANSIT, it was up and running as we entered the 1960s and involved the system using the DopplerEffect to calculate the position of the receiver in relation to satellites.
By following the path of satellites and gathering data on their patterns, experts were able to get an idea of the exact location of an object based on frequency differences. More refined and precise versions of this satellite-based global positioning technology was used by the general military as we progressed into the early 1980s, whereby multiple satellites were utilised. While GPS devices were also publicly available around this time — systems which use between 24 and 32 medium Earth orbit satellites that follow six trajectories for incredibly accurate results — they weren’t of much use. This is because the military added interference to the signals so that only their own version could be used with any precision.
This type of technology became much more widespread after the year 2000, however. As we ushered in a new millennium, President Clinton ended four years of deliberations to sign a bill in 2000 which ordered that the military ceased scrambling satellite signals that were being used by members of the public.
Improvements to autonomous tech
The story behind the invention of cruise control is almost too strange to comprehend. Cruise control was invented by a blind man. That’s right; inventor and automotive hall of famer Ralph Teetor was the brains behind a system where the speed of a vehicle is automatically controlled with a flick of a switch or press of a button. However, he had been blind since the age of five after a shop accident. A lack of sight didn’t stop Teetor from noticing that when his lawyer was behind the wheel of a vehicle, he had a tendency to slow down when he was talking and then speed up if he was listening. Teetor found this inconsistency annoying, to the point that he started to look into whether a device could be developed which could control the speed of a car automatically.
The invention didn’t catch on until a number of years later, however. While the first patent for this type of technology was filed in 1948, it would take a few additional patents for improving the original gadget and close to a decade after the initial patent before cruise control technology was fitted to the 1958 models of the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor. Of course, from that point on the devices began to be used by so many manufacturers on their vehicles.
Improvements to Bluetooth
Bluetooth is now one of the most popular inventions of the modern age. However, the name Bluetooth was only officially adopted in 1998 and the first handset using the technology was only shipped in 2000 — it would be another year before Bluetooth hands-free car kits started to hit the market too..
To fully understand where the idea for Bluetooth came from, we have to go further back in time. It was back in 1993 that Jaap Haartsen was employed as a wireless communications engineer for the Swedish digital communications company Ericsson. While in this job, Haartsen received the task to create a short-range radio connection that could enable new functionalities for mobile phones.
The inventor was joined by fellow engineer and business partner Sven Mattison in 1995. Haartsen wasn’t finished yet though, with his work becoming more focused on piconet networks — a single piconet being the linking of two Bluetooth-enabled devices in order to establish an ad-hoc, short-range wireless network. By 1998, however, Haartsen branched off on his own, forming the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Over the next two years, he was the chairman of the SIG’s air protocol certifications group and played a part in standardizing the Bluetooth radio communications protocol.
Improvements to electric vehicles
It might come as a surprise, but the first electric car was introduced more than 100 years ago. To trace the origins of electric vehicles, we have to go all the way back to 1932, when Scottish inventor Robert Anderson invented the first electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable primary cells. Inventors in the Netherlands also began testing out smaller battery powered vehicles and small-scale electric cars in the 19th century.
Electric vehicles were actually extremely popular in the 1900s. At the turn of the 20th century, the horse was still the primary mode of transportation. But as Americans became more prosperous, they turned to the newly invented motor vehicle — available in steam, gasoline or electric versions — to get around. The Model T by inventor Henry Ford saw the popularity of electric vehicles plummet, however, by making gasoline powered vehicles more affordable and accessible than electric cars.
Recent years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of electric vehicles. With news of how air pollution is negatively impacting our planet and quality of life, automotive manufacturers have been striving to develop all-electric models. An increase in services such as EV charger installation and the widespread availability of charging points has meant that the market looks set to take off once again.