In recent years we’ve seen car manufacturers develop incredible technologies to help motorists protect their cars.
Automotive technology has been developed to detect hazards like potholes and broken manhole covers to protect wheels, tyres and suspension components from expensive damage.
But this is only just the beginning. Soon cars will be “talking” to one another. Jaguar Land Rover is already working on connected car technology to enable vehicles to automatically warn other motorists in the same area of impending road condition hazards.
At the moment, the most accurate data is gained when the vehicle actually drives over hazards such as potholes, but in the near future these systems will be developed to be able to “see” the road ahead and warn drivers of road surface hazards before the car gets to them. This will enable the driver to slow down or take safe evasive action, avoiding any sudden vehicle movements or emergency braking, which can lead to accidents. The successful development of this technology will be a major step in the journey towards the much-discussed driverless, or autonomous, cars of the future.
Technology a fundamental change to the way vehicles are driven
Technical Editor of The Automotive Technician, workshop owner and long-time Capricorn member Jeff Smit said this technology represented “a fundamental change” in the way vehicles are driven.
“From a layman’s point of view, you don't drive the car anymore – the computers drive the car,” he said. “You are just telling the computers what you’d like to do. The computers will then determine whether it’s safe to do it.
“So you can put your foot flat to the floor. If your wheels start spinning, the traction control computer will go, ‘no, I don’t care that you want to go flat to the floor, I’m going to take off slowly’.
“Or you might forget to brake and there’s a car in front of you; your car will brake for you because it can see that there’s a car there. Just because you haven’t got your foot on the brake doesn’t mean they’re not going to brake.”
Road safety is key but what does this tech mean for your workshop?
That computer-driven vehicles will be able to talk to each other in the not-too-distant future could actually do a lot for road safety. It’s a technological advance on receiving alerts about road traffic issues via radio broadcasts and satellite navigation systems. With any luck, it might also lead to authorities responding more efficiently to urgent road maintenance issues, like dangerous potholes.
While all this technology sounds great, isn’t it inevitable it will lead to fewer common suspension, wheel and tyre repairs? Jeff has a final warning for workshop owners and managers.
“All of this technology, especially all these computers that are in the car now, really changes the job of a mechanic,” he said. “And it changes the kinds of roles you need in a workshop.
“Looking five years ahead, anyone in the aftermarket will have to be fairly confident with the electronic side of the car. And you will have to be equipped for it. You will have to be confident and have the technical ability, as well as the equipment, and know about programming and updating software.”
The tech is coming. It’s up to us to be ready for it.
What kind of damage to cars caused by deteriorated road conditions have you seen?