2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R’s carbon fiber wheelsEnlarge Photo
There was a time when customers had to wait for the complete redesign of a vehicle to gain the latest tech features. However, with the ever-increasing convergence of the tech and automotive industries we’ve seen the rate of change accelerate at a rapid pace, meaning the features offered in one year can sometimes be outdated by the next. Here’s a look at 10 of the top technological innovations that made headlines in 2015.
Carbon Fiber Wheels: This year we saw the first regular production car launched with wheels made purely from carbon fiber. The car was the Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] Mustang Shelby GT350R and the carbon fiber wheels were supplied by an Australian company by the name of Carbon Revolution. Not only are the wheels stronger than regular alloys, the lighter unsprung mass (any mass not supported by the suspension) has a positive impact on response times, chassis dynamics, steering feel and ride quality. It also enables vehicles to start, stop and turn faster because of the reduced wheel rotational inertia, and the lighter unsprung mass also means suspension components don’t work as hard to keep tires in contact with the road over undulating or broken surfaces. No surprise that we hear Ford has selected carbon fiber wheels for its upcoming GT supercar.
Tesla Autopilot suite of features - with version 7.0 updateEnlarge Photo
Autonomous Cars: The first car fully capable of driving itself, albeit in certain situations only, first arrived in 2013 in the form of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, this year we saw a huge increase in the number of firms developing the technology and some of the leaders, in this case Volvo, Mercedes and Google, step up and state that they are willing to accept responsibility for any accident caused by one of their autonomous cars. We also saw Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] take the next step by introducing autonomous lane changing for the first time, adding to the capability of autonomous highway driving first introduced with the latest S-Class from Mercedes.
2016 BMW 7-SeriesEnlarge Photo
Gesture Controls: Not long ago, the idea of a gesture control interface in a car might have seemed like science fiction but in 2015 it became a reality with the launch of the latest 7-Series flagship sedan from BMW. The BMW system relies on a ceiling-mounted 3D sensor to detect gestures, and then decodes different movements—such as tapping, finger rotations or a swiping movement—and performs the desired input. Right now it has just six preprogrammed finger gestures to accomplish a few select tasks, but the automaker is working on a more advanced system that can read gestures made with your full hand and allow you to control the whole infotainment system.