The automotive industry is one of the most competitive out there. This is ideal for us consumers as there’s a constant push for innovation in terms of the safety, comfort, and performance of our vehicles. If you were to get into a car just a few decades old today, it would be a completely different feeling.
Older cars are much more sluggish, uncomfortable and unsafe – especially when it comes to braking and taking an impact. It’s surprising to think that what we consider standard essential features on modern vehicles are innovations that have only been implemented very recently.
Of course, there is still a long way to go and the future of cars is an exciting one filled with amazing technology. But in order to understand what is yet to arrive, let’s take a look at how far we’ve already come.
Believe it or not, the three-point seatbelt was only invented in 1959 by none other than Nils Bohlin, an engineer at Volvo. Fortunately, the Swedish car company kept the patent public, allowing other manufacturers to implement this essential safety device into their own vehicles.
It was such a significant invention that the importance of it as a life-saving measure exceeded that of it being something to profit from. Shockingly, seatbelts weren’t even compulsory in the UK in 1983 – a whole two decades after their invention.
Anti-Lock Braking Systems
The anti-lock braking system, or ABS for short, ensuresthat your vehicle’s wheels don’t lock up while braking. Without it, taking sharp corners or having to slow down quickly would have potentially fatal results. It was first created for the Mercedes S-Class in 1978 as a luxury feature and is now standard in most vehicles.
Up until 1955 when Citroen implemented disc brakes on their DS model, drum brakes were the standard on most cars. Compared to disc brakes, drum brakes had significantly poorer stopping performance – think of it like having to stop a boat on water.
Today, disc brake technology is found on all types of transportation, from the fastest supercars to the most simple of mountain bikes. This has undoubtedly saved countless lives by ensuring that you can come to a stop in a timely manner.
While the first patents for airbags started circling in the 1950s, it was not until 1987 when Porsche introduced airbags in the driver and passenger sides of their 944 turbo sports car. Since then, airbags have become an absolute essential in every vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles have become quite the craze lately, with everyone from car companies like Tesla to ride services like Uber racing to create a fully autonomous driving experience. It is a safe bet to assume that within a few years, road fatalities will be cut down significantly as we hand over our driving to the heightened intelligence of AI.
It’s astonishing to think that so many essential innovations have only come around very recently. Perhaps it’s a testament to the fact that we still have much to learn and create when it comes to the safety, convenience, and performance of our cars.