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Four-wheeled Super Computers

Our everyday vehicles are rapidly becoming a hotbed of digital technology

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made his famous observation that computing power would double every 18 months. Moore’s Law has proven consistently accurate over the past fifty years, as integrated circuits have grown constantly smaller and more powerful, allowing us to move from mainframe computers to personal computers and from laptops to tablets and smartphones. And while the computing power employed to successfully land the Apollo 11 mission on the moon pales in comparison to any digital device in use today, a new form of supercomputing is on the rise in a much older type of vehicle: the car.

Cars have certainly come a long way since Karl Benz introduced the first motorcar in 1886, but the adoption of cutting edge technology in cars has been much more recent. Cars and other vehicles gradually adopted new materials and devices that improved safety and security, but it wasn’t until the introduction of GPS navigation systems at the turn of the century that automotive producers really turned their attention to digital tools. It was the dawn of a new age for the automotive industry.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, Insurance telematics has transformed the very concept of what a vehicle is – and does – by driving the adoption and integration of avant-garde digital technology and tools, greatly increasing our security and safety, cutting down on petrol consumption and providing us with precious alerts on maintenance needs and emergencies, as well as, of course, vastly improving our insurance options.

Today, as we continue our journey towards self-driving vehicles, telematics has turned our cars into powerful supercomputers that dwarf the very technology that was used to land mankind on the moon, nearly half a century ago.

What not too long ago could have been considered science fiction is today a solid reality on many of our vehicles. GPS navigation systems and infotainment systems have become commonplace, while telematics is increasingly driving the adoption of state-of-the-art chips for the real-time management of information coming from sensors that determine proximity to other vehicles and barriers, rear-view cameras for backing up and even side cameras and bird’s-eye-view options, advanced navigation systems and real-time alerts on traffic, weather and even vehicle engine and electronics, as well as voice-controlled commands.

Moreover, as we rapidly move towards the adoption of self-driving cars, vehicle artificial intelligence systems will have to make myriad decisions autonomously, in a split second. We are already moving towards vehicles equipped with radar and lidar, vision and spatial sensing systems, and other artificial intelligence solutions that employ sophisticated algorithms to learn what to do from experience and custom-tailor our car settings to our preferences and whereabouts. Cars equipped with this type of technology are driving around our roads as you read this article.

And as our technology rapidly progresses, our cities may one day well become the futuristic metropolises with self-flying cars envisaged long ago by the Jetson’s cartoon, as man was just setting foot on the moon.

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