3 trends you need to know for the future of mobility

The automotive industry is undergoing major changes. Often seen as a highly innovative market, it is currently experiencing three major advances that will dictate the future of mobility for at least the next decade. These innovations will not just affect the vehicle manufacturers themselves—they will also create ripples throughout the industry. It is vital that designers and engineers become familiar with how these developments will impact their role in the industry.

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The Move to Electric

The promise of the electric vehicle is not new. In fact, the development of electric vehicles has paralleled the growth of the internal combustion engine during the early years of the automotive industry. However, the compactness of the gasoline engine, combined with the relatively crude battery technology available at the time, led to electric vehicles becoming a small niche in the automotive industry as we now know it.

The rising cost of oil has combined with concerns over the impact of fossil fuels on the environment to change this situation. The search for alternatives to traditional fuels has created great demand for electric vehicles and, as a result, both governments and manufacturers have made commitments to replace gas-dependent cars with more sustainable technologies.

This surge of interest has been the driving force behind the improvement in technology. For the first time, automotive batteries can offer the endurance and performance needed to rival that of gasoline-powered vehicles. This is coupled with other developments, particularly the use of kinetic energy recovery systems that were developed for racing cars. These systems harness the energy released while vehicles are decelerating and use it to recharge on-board batteries. Now entering use in mainstream vehicles, this is further evidence that electric vehicles are here to stay.

Electric cars will use currents and voltages not found in gasoline-powered vehicles. Designers need to bear this in mind when selecting components for electric vehicle applications. Molex has created a range of products that are capable of high currents. Some, like the H-DAC 64 system, are designed specifically for automotive applications, while others, including the Mega-Fit series connectors, offer wire-to-board solutions with superior power density.

Vehicle Communications

More than any other single element, our lives over the next decade will be guided by data. The widespread adoption of 5G connectivity around the globe has led to a huge constellation of connected devices, and the car will form a key part of this network.

High-speed, high-bandwidth communications will enable V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communications, allowing vehicles to share information about road conditions, potential dangers and even their relative positions. The ability to connect remotely to the manufacturer will also make possible the update of vehicle software remotely, allowing cars to use the latest technology without having to be taken to a service center.

This sharing of data with the manufacturer will also revolutionize the vehicle-servicing industry. Maintenance will become more focused and cost-effective. In-car systems will monitor the condition of the vehicle, communicating in real time using 5G connectivity, allowing preventive maintenance to be scheduled only when necessary.

Electric vehicles are much simpler than traditional gas-powered cars, with fewer moving parts and fewer high-pressure systems. Combined with proactive maintenance schemes, this reduced wear and tear on systems will result in vehicles with a far longer lifespan.

The next generation of vehicles will utilize computing power that rivals traditional data centers. To enable this, they will require connectors that are capable of high data speeds while also offering reliability and robust design. The Molex range of FFC/FPC connectors are ideal for providing high-speed connections in the demanding conditions found in the automotive industry.

Driverless Vehicles

Self-driving or autonomous vehicles have caught the public imagination. The technology to achieve this level of driving capabilities will require a complex combination of sensors and computational power. To achieve widespread acceptance, self-driving cars will need to be able to detect all potential hazards, understand how to avoid them and then take the necessary action, all within a very short period of time.

The autonomous vehicles will therefore boast a range of sensors that will allow them to map the environment. Embedded vision systems will form a large part of this suite of sensors, along with RADAR and LIDAR. The vehicles will need to process and act upon the data collected from these sensors with the lowest possible latency. The on-board electronics within the vehicles will have to collect and process a huge amount of data and process them in near-real time.

The systems that enable driverless vehicles will share many of the features that allow V2X communications. High-speed data connectivity provides a link to information from outside sources, in a concept known as V2X (vehicle to “X”), where the X represents pedestrians, cyclists or even the traffic controls of a smart city. This will ensure the safety of autonomous vehicles, as potential hazards can be identified and shared with the cloud, allowing other vehicles to act accordingly.

The use of cloud-based data services will depend on the lowest possible time delay, or latency, between detection and decision. Cars will need to carry their own intelligence to act quickly. Edge computing brings processing power close to the point that it is needed—to the “edge” of the network. This kind of on-board intelligence will be vital in tomorrow’s cars.

To truly become part of the smart city, cars will depend on reliable connection to other devices. Molex offers a range of compact and lightweight antenna products for a wide variety of applications, including GPS and 5G. Molex also manufactures high-performance RF connectors that are vital to high-speed communications and embedded vision systems.

Harsh Environments

Despite the technology that will be deployed into the next generation of vehicles, the automotive environment remains one of the most diverse and challenging on Earth. From the frozen wastes of the arctic to the heat of the desert, vehicles can be subjected to a range of temperatures. In some climates, the variation of temperatures between day and night can exceed 40°C, and so any vehicle in this environment must be able to withstand these constant changes.

Vehicles also generate their own heat. The internal combustion engine and exhaust systems create high temperatures, as can the motors used within electric vehicles. Cars are also subject to the shock and vibration caused by uneven surfaces, all while being able to resist damage caused by water and other contaminants found on the road.

Connectors designed for the automotive environment must be robust and reliable, even while delivering the high performance needed for the next generation of mobility. The MX150 series of connectors provides superior performance in the extreme conditions found in vehicle-based applications and offers a standardized USCAR interface for use in trucks and car designs.

Your Partner for Future Mobility

Molex has a proven track record of creating robust, high-performance solutions for connectivity in tough conditions. With a global footprint and expertise in a wide range of disciplines, Molex can provide connector systems that combine the reliability of the automotive industry and the high performance of the latest wireless communication systems. Whether a standard component or a customized design, Molex has the technology, supply chain and customer focus to provide the ideal solutions for this exciting industry.


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