3 standard automotive technologies set to change in 2016

There are many features Australian fleet managers take for granted in vehicles. However, while some people may see parts such as wing mirrors and interior buttons as necessary features in the world's cars, automotive engineers look upon them as outdated artefacts that are ripe for innovation. 

Many analogue technologies are set to become digital.

Although smaller updates to vehicles such as these won't be as marketable as major updates like hybrid engines and autonomous functionality, they can go a long way to improving vehicles overall. 

The prevailing trend is one of technological advancement, with manufacturers realising most of analogue and physical technologies can be digitalised for better effect.

Here are three subtle ways the cars of the future will differ from their ancestors. 

1. Wing mirrors go digital

Drivers who think back to some of their earliest driving lessons will remember being warned of the various blind spots that compromise safety in almost all vehicles. When changing lanes or making other major manoeuvres, drivers need to turn their head to check the areas their mirrors can't see, taking their eyes off the road in the process. 

While some companies, such as Volvo, have pioneered blind spot detection, the technology still doesn't actually allow drivers to see around their vehicle. In these examples, there is usually a visual cue on the wing mirror that indicates when a blind spot is clear. 

BMW is taking this a step further. The company's latest concept vehicle, the i8-based i Vision Future Interaction, replaces traditional wing mirrors with cameras. These additions allow for a much wider view and eliminate the blind spots that limit the effectiveness of standard mirrors. 

This information is then collated on a centrally located screen, allowing drivers to monitor their surroundings without diverting their attention too far from the road ahead. 

Car mirrors are set to evolve. Car mirrors are set to evolve.

2. Fewer buttons, fewer distractions

Normally when a manufacturer removes buttons from its products, a sleek, modern touchscreen is the preferred replacement. However, these items can be difficult to navigate in moving vehicles, with no tactile feedback informing drivers what they are pressing or changing. 

A number of automotive manufacturers have recently come to the same conclusion, realising that the safest and most efficient way for people to control the interior functions of their cars is through gesture control. 

Instead of having to fumble for awkwardly placed buttons or touchscreens, drivers simply have to perform the appropriate gesture to prompt a vehicle to respond. PSA Peugeot Citroen reported that its system would be accurate enough to measure finger movements and remain functional in all lighting conditions. 

The French brand's system relies on infra-red sensors and high-tech cameras to operate the multimedia system, interior lighting or panoramic roof. 

The technology will not be unique to Citroen and Peugeot vehicles, however, with BMW and Volkswagen announcing they are developing their own rival technologies. 

Buttons will be replaced with gesture control in many cars. Buttons will be replaced with gesture control in many cars.

3. Tyres without air

Tyre upkeep is one of the most important aspects of fleet maintenance. Worn tyres can pose a significant safety risk to drivers, and those low on air can greatly reduce fuel efficiency. 

A number of manufacturers are working on innovations to greatly reduce this worry, with airless tyres likely to be one of the most important developments for new vehicles. 

Existing tyre brands Hankook and Bridgestone are both pioneering their own entries to the market. The fact these are intended to be used in the passenger vehicle market means fleet managers should be able to get their hands on the technology easily once they go on sale. 

The constant evolution seen in the automotive industry means that vehicles are rapidly improving as the years pass. What will change next?