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Four Pieces of Automotive Technology That Change the Way We Drive

BMW outfitted with the latest automotive technology

Technology pervades every part of modern life. You may not even notice the gadgets that make it into automotive technology when you get behind the wheel. When a new piece of gadgetry emerges in the market, the auto industry immediately looks for ways to work it into its products. This results in decked-out cars that are truly the stuff of science fiction.

Here’s a list of four incredible inventions that have made their way into automotive technology recently:

1. Brushless Motors and Lithium BatteriesTesla Model S Deliveries by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

In the past decade, nothing has driven the advancement of the modern automobile as much as hybrid automotive technology. At the core of this automotive wonder is a powerful brushless motor that pushes your vehicle to get it moving from a stop and also acts as a generator to charge its batteries whenever you coast or slow down.

These motors provide additional power to help your vehicle’s combustion engine when accelerating or going uphill, and they handle most of the low-speed driving. As a result, they also allow the engine to be smaller, be more efficient and, in many cases, turn off completely when the vehicle comes to a stop to save on gas.

A series of lithium batteries store the charge produced during regenerative braking. With advances in technology, these batteries are becoming smaller and lighter every year, and they now provide the extra power needed for vehicles equipped with such myriad electronic devices as cameras, proximity sensors and the other gadgets that make up your car’s controller area network (CAN) system.

2. Touchscreen Technology

When smartphones hit the market, they changed the way people interact with electronics and reformulated the notion of an operating system. As the technology became more advanced, it started to get thinner and more responsive. It soon found its way into modern automobiles.

Today’s vehicles use this technology to control GPS and GUI systems via smartphone Bluetooth connectivity, and they aid drivers with hands-on access to maps, climate controls, vehicle dynamics and other functions that can be adjusted on the fly.

3. Microelectronic Components

The world of smart devices wouldn’t be complete without accelerometers and proximity sensors. These microsized electronic components are used in devices to track positioning for GPS, angle, direction and distance when taking a picture. In vehicles they control elements such as warning sensors in the bumpers and sides of the vehicle to avoid accidents, electronic stability control and active differential control to give the vehicle maximum grip in any situation and GPS navigation systems that lead us to our destinations.

4. In-Vehicle Networking

Within the relatively brief lifetime of wireless networking technology, we’ve seen systems go from complex networks found only at your job to pocket-sized devices that you can carry in your pocket, making your own person a living, breathing Wi-Fi hot spot. Vehicles are no different. Many cars are now being outfitted with technology that produces its own Wi-Fi network within your vehicle, thus allowing drivers and passengers to connect a handful of devices to their own, moving, personal wireless network.

While we enjoy the many benefits of technological advancements in our homes and personal lives, this same technology is continually being developed for use in vehicles.

Check out all the relays, sensors and switches available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the latest and greatest modern automotive technology, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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