It’s easy to see why connected cars, in-vehicle services, and autonomous vehicles are driving innovation within the automotive market. According to Gartner, 90 percent of cars will include intelligent features by 2020. Manufacturing 4.0-driven designs and emerging technologies have taken us into a world that’s changing how we drive. Whether it’s bringing content into cars through infotainment systems, finding better ways to increase safety, reducing fuel consumption or achieving record-breaking speeds, the automotive industry is manufacturing a host of exciting new solutions.
Here are 10 automotive influencers you can follow to stay on top of the auto-manufacturing beat.
1. Dr. Frankie James, General Motors Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office
Increasingly, auto manufacturers are opening offices in Silicon Valley to be closer to the innovations developing in all aspects of the auto tech world. Dr. Frankie James has headed up General Motors’ Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office (ATSVO) for a decade. James’ team is in charge of identifying technologies and companies that will revolutionize the way GM builds cars, and interviews reveal her cutting-edge thought leadership on the automotive field.
2. Elon Musk and Tesla
No list on automotive innovation would be complete without Elon Musk, who has been driving innovation in the luxury category with Tesla, and with the Model 3 is bringing those innovations to a much broader market. Tesla has redefined the way people think about vehicles, transforming cars from a way to get around into a portal to new experiences.
3. John Krafcik and Waymo
Krafcik has a career that spans auto brands including Ford Motor Company and Hyundai. Today he’s at the helm of Waymo – formerly known as the Google self-driving car project. Now an independently held company, Waymo focuses on how self-driving technology makes it “easier and safer for people and things to move around.”
4. Rethink Robotics
Collaborative robots, or “cobots”, are the future of Manufacturing 4.0 – and nowhere is that more apparent than in the automotive industry. Companies like Rethink Robotics are developing solutions that break through fears around using robots on the automotive floor and making it easier to manufacture cars in a fast, efficient way side-by-side with humans.
5. Ford Automotive Wearables Experience Lab
Wearables are about more than fitness trackers and smart glasses. In fact, the automotive industry has been pioneering multiple applications – such as using glasses to speed up order picking in factories, improve the QA process, and even enable geographically disbursed engineers to collaborate more effectively. Ford’s take on the challenge of bringing automotive wearables to the average driver with the launch of its Automotive Wearables Lab, with projects such as exploring how health data can feed into driver-safety assisted features, voice controls for the driving experience, and more.
Rolls-Royce continues to define the possibilities of luxury mobility with its “haute-couture” product, Vision Next. Customization and personalization are coming to auto manufacturing, and with its Vision Next 100, consumers will be empowered to dramatically customize the designs of cars including dimensions, materials, and more. The customizability of this concept hints at the direction of personalized manufacturing in high-end automobiles.
Infotainment systems are becoming one of the most important elements of automobile manufacturing and experiences, connecting navigation, in-car music and streaming, information displays, and telematics into a single system. While each major auto manufacturer has their own system, Harmon-backed Navdy is making waves with its heads-up display, which can be used with any car, and is gaining attention in the auto industry for taking older models into the next-generation of mobility.
8. Tim Cook and Bob Mansfield, Apple
Long-time senior hardware engineer Bob Mansfield has taken the helm of Apple’s efforts to develop an autonomous car system. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook went on the record earlier this year to describe the company’s efforts to develop an autonomous car system. Speculation has been rife in the industry, even leading the Harvard Business Review to publish a piece titled, “What An Apple Car Should Be.”
A new generation of technology is emerging from Qualcomm, leading the charge for the connected car. Qualcomm’s smart technologies and automotive solutions are utilizing Snapdragon processors and modems to make smart cars a reality today – and adapting to the audacious visions of the future.
Vehicle electrification is a massive space, as car manufacturers move from mechanical parts to electrified ones. However, Volvo is paving the way for a shift to all-electric or hybrid cars by 2019. From Volvo’s end-to-end electrification to advances in specific components, this is a space to watch as conventional cars begin to phase out of the annual lineup.
Continue the conversation and learn how intelligent devices and other systems are changing the automotive industry.