Driving is Going Digital

The digital revolution of today is changing the driving of tomorrow

History shows that technology and change go hand in hand. It feels like something new is being announced every day, affecting every aspect of our lives. Take driving. Ask any Irish citizen what the most significant change in the automotive industry is today, and most will suggest hybrid cars, or the growing switch to EVs – electric vehicles. And while there’s no doubt that these topics certainly dominate mainstream motoring news, this is barely scratching the surface of car development. In the era of digital revolution, the direction of motoring is changing too.

Most of us are used to increasing digitalisation in our lives, but few of us truly understand what this means in practice for Irish drivers. Some of the technologies being developed will have a significant effect on all of our driving experiences, including many innovations pioneered by leading automotive company, Continental.

Car-shopping the digital way

Before we look at a digital automotive technologies and our vehicles, consider how the way we buy cars has changed. Shopping for them is dramatically different from just a decade ago, thanks to the digital revolution. Today, there is a seemingly endless amount of data, statistics and reviews available online for every vehicle on the market, and this means Irish consumers are much better informed. It’s anticipated that in the not so distant future, the vast majority of us will conduct research online before making an automotive purchasing decision.

And the influence of the internet on automotive sales doesn’t stop there. Some motor manufacturers are launching virtual showrooms, enabling customers to use Augmented Reality (AR) to look around cars – as if they were standing next to them – that provides a near real-world experience from the comfort of their own home.

Continental smart tyres keep you safe – and save money

On the road, digital innovation aims to both improve performance and make driving safer, with tyres also getting the smart-technology treatment. Continental has already developed its own sophisticated Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) which comes as standard in many of the vehicles available in Ireland today.

Continental have also developed a electronic-Tyre Information System (eTIS) that’s designed to keep an eye on your tyres, alerting you to temperature changes and/or pressure loss. What’s more, eTIS not only advances safety, it also improves driver comfort, as well as reducing fuel consumption – leading to less CO2 emissions.

Examples of digital tyre tech, like those outlined above, are already here, but there’s much more on the horizon. In recent times, Continental has revealed its ContiSense and ContiAdapt smart tyre technologies. While not yet integrated with today’s tyres, these revolutionary digital vehicle technologies operate with electrically conductive rubber compounds that send electrical signals from the tyre to the car. As a result, drivers will be notified of any tyre-related issues, such as tread depth, temperature, and pressure anomalies, making the driving experience both safer and more comfortable. But how will drivers see this information?

Continental’s digital automotive technology is about more than just tyres

Although Continental has built its unrivalled global reputation on tyres, its expertise in other automotive fields is wide-ranging, and just as impressive. Much of its investment, research and development in recent times has focused on the development of digital technologies, including Heads-Up Displays – HUD.

In 2018, Continental increased its stake in DigiLens, a Silicon Valley-based leader in holographic waveguide technology. DigiLens provides a ‘smart head-up display’ for cars (and indeed motorbike helmets, too) that hugely increases the visible display area. In the not so distant future, HUD technology – previously seen only in the cockpits of airplanes – will become commonplace.

Heads-Up Display technology is just the latest example of Continental digital displays integrated into the cars of many automotive manufacturers. If, for example, you drive a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi, the chances are the electronic displays in front of you are made by Continental. Simply put, they provide the automotive sector with an array of digital safety and performance technologies.

Smart sensors for the digital age

One such safety and performance technology is Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). These intelligent electronics – pioneered and developed by Continental over many years – are now commonplace in many of today’s vehicles, no longer considered extras but fitted as standard. ADAS provide a diverse range of benefits to drivers, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – which monitors road conditions, and helps to prevent collisions (thanks to state-of-art LIDAR technology) – and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) – which can help assist with steering if the system detects a driver needs to take avoiding action, in the event of a possible collision.

Possibly the most talked about ADAS currently on the market is autonomous self-parking technology. This is the one that garners all the ‘wows’ and gasps from admirers. Continental are a major provider of this technology to the global automotive industry, and if you drive certain modern model Mercedes-Benz you’ll already be familiar with it. As the name suggests, autonomous self-parking means you never need park the car yourself again, thanks to an array of motion sensors placed throughout the vehicle.

As this digital technology becomes more and more commonplace – just as AEB and ESC have – autonomous driver assistance will become the norm, to the point where drivers will question its omission if a vehicle does not have it. The autonomous vehicle revolution is well and truly underway, and while it may not be fully realised just yet, Continental are well placed to help shape and steer the direction of this transformative digital technology.

In the not so distant future, we may not need to drive at all

Continental is developing relationships with technology companies focused on the delivery of a fully autonomous driving experience. For instance, it has joined forces with the BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye for the challenge of producing fully automated BMW vehicles by 2021. It has also partnered with BMW, Audi and Daimler in purchasing a stake in Here, the digital mapping technology business. This may, on the surface at least, conjure up images of satellite navigation systems, but in fact Here’s technology has more relevance to autonomous vehicles networks.

And only last year, Continental announced a partnership with telecoms giant, Vodafone, to jointly develop new technologies that focus on (amongst other things) the creation of traffic jam warning systems, and a ‘digital shield’ for the protection of pedestrians – all utilising next-generation 5G wireless technology. A fully autonomous driving experience will require a ultra-dependable network to share cellular information between vehicles, infrastructure, and pedestrians’ phones.

Autonomous driving infrastructure, vital for the safe and reliable implementation of a fully automated driving network, is also evolving. Technologies, including Continental’s smart road junctions and smart street lamps, are only the start of the autonomous driving infrastructure revolution. Ultimately, following next-gen advancements in wireless communications and data processing, fully autonomous transportation will become a reality.

Innovations, like Continental’s ‘CUbE’ – the on-demand autonomous shuttle – will transport people via the most efficient route to their destination in a city, thanks to digital. This may ultimately change the way we all consume transport in Ireland, since vehicle ownership as we know it today may become a thing of the past. Concepts like CUbE could also revolutionise the way the products that we increasingly purchase online are transported, making deliveries more efficient and cost effective.

Continental – shaping tomorrow’s world today

Digital is already fundamental to today’s automotive experience – from the electronic systems that manage our cars, to how we source and purchase motor vehicles, and beyond. But this digital transformation is only the beginning. The digital driving experience of tomorrow has much to offer us all, in terms of safety, performance and convenience. One automotive technology company is at the forefront of this digital revolution – Continental.


Advance Pitstop – Caring for your car from the tyres up