Do you remember what it was like to drive before automatic headlights?

If so, you’re dating yourself — but we can consider this feature as a precursor to the smart headlight technology we see today.

It’s amazing how quickly things have changed. And as they continue to change, let’s take a minute to appreciate how smart car technology is redefining the driving experience.

Ultimately, smart technology has the biggest impact in two categories: safety and convenience.

Safety

Smart car technology has had the biggest and most impressive impact on automotive safety. The following technologies have helped made our roads safer.

  • Automatic emergency braking — Automatic emergency braking relies on a system of cameras and sensors to detect danger ahead. If there’s an object in your way, the system will initiate your vehicle’s brakes, so you don’t collide with another car, guardrail, or (heaven forbid) pedestrian.
  • Lane departure warnings — If you happen to sway out of your lane, this system will let you know. In some cases, depending on how advanced the technology is, the system may take control of the steering to guide you back into your lane. This feature is helpful for anyone who may be driving while drowsy or distracted.
  • Blindspot detection — Unfortunately, with the way vehicles are designed, there will always be blind spots. Blindspot detection can be audible or visual, but most people prefer visual warnings. This helps confirm whether another vehicle might be in your blind spot, and it can help you avoid a collision.
  • Backup cameras — Rearview cameras have become so commonplace that we rarely stop to appreciate how safe they have made our roads.Installed in new cars since 2015, rear-view cameras allow you to have a full view of the area behind your car. And, to be perfectly honest, this is the only way we’d ever know if a small child or animal snuck behind the vehicle.
  • Safety exit assist — This is another smart safety feature that helps keep families safe. Safety exit assistis an extension of blind-spot monitoring, and it will prevent your vehicle’s back doors from opening when something (like another vehicle or bicycle) is in your blind spot. This feature is very helpful when you have young children in the car who may not look before they open the door.

Convenience

Some smart technologies are purely there for our convenience, and we couldn’t be more thankful. The following are a few examples of smart car technologies that exist to help make our lives easier and more comfortable.

  • Smart trunks — Smart trunk technology is the convenience you never knew you needed, but after you get it, you may have trouble going without. What do you mean I have to open my trunk with my hands?
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — There’s nothing more convenient than having your phone connected to your car’s infotainment system. Not only can you access all the songs on your phone, but you can also access an up-to-date map at any time.
  • Push-button start — For some people, the push-button start is one of the simplest conveniences. And once you get used to using it, it feels strange to put your key in the ignition.
  • Adaptive cruise control — Adaptive cruise control could fall into the category of safety, but it’s also a major convenience. With this smart car feature, you don’t have to worry about stepping on the brakes when the car in front of you isn’t quite up to your speed.

Potential Developments

A big focus for smart car technology is self-driving cars.  There are several prominent companies such as Waymo and Tesla Motors that have been regularly testing self-driving cars on public highways and roads.

Another piece of smart car technology that might be introduced in the near future is a system that can tell when a driver is intoxicated. This technology would be used in an effort to reduce the amount of drunk driving, as well as the fatalities and other deadly consequences that come with it.

Car technology has come a long way in the past decade, and if estimates are right, we’re about to see those changes accelerate even more in the next decade.