Advancements in military technology have enabled world militaries’ technological supremacy on today’s battlefield. Advantages such as these also have benefits beyond the modern theatre. Indeed, there are compelling economic reasons for militaries to continuously push the boundaries when it comes to tech.
Such ingenuity, like technological developments in armoured vehicles, translates well into various other industries. The proliferation of military tech throughout commercial industries is best examined within the automotive industry. The car industry, after all, is full of innovations.
Every year, a new model features high tech solutions to everyday problems. Bold innovations pave the way for ingenuity within the car industry. And the roots of such technology can be found in military developments.
Things like GPS navigation, active cruise control, and even the combustion engine were once ideas that were formed in the cubicle of war. Wartime history means innovations for the future.
Here are five ways that military technology has changed the automotive industry.
1. Radio, Detection, and Ranging
The 1940s introduced the world to a new format of war: electronic warfare. Radio, Detection, and Ranging, better known as “radar,” was used on Allied battleships to protect them from sneak attacks on the battlefront. Such technology saved the British who adopted it as an early warning system for German air raids. Modern radar detectors have evolved since such first systems.
In today’s vehicles, radar is employed through many systems such as active cruise control, lane departure warning systems, and blind spot detection and warning. These systems provide safer driving environments for drivers to minimize the risk of potential accidents. Radar technology complements drivers, assisting them with their situational and spatial awareness.
2. Night Vision
The ability to see in the pitch black night provides superior tactical mobility and operational awareness on the battlefield. In commercial vehicles, it ensures safer driving in poor visibility driving conditions. The use of various systems such as thermographic cameras and infrared lights serve to alert drivers of potential hazards in driving conditions with limited visibility.
Automotive night vision is available across a range of vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Bentley. Nearly 50 percent of fatal accidents occur at night. Such systems increase nighttime visibility, improving normally bad road clarity and enhancing driver awareness.
3. GPS Navigation
Originally developed as a space-based radio navigation system, GPS navigation has been one of the most impactful military technologies to appear in an automotive vehicle.
With its pre-loaded maps, text-to-speech directions, and satellite assistance, handheld, and car GPS navigation systems have eliminated the need for paper maps. They work by relying on a network of satellites that provides positioning information. Their ability to accurately locate your position and destination allows you to conveniently and safely reach your goal location.
It’s hard to imagine life these days without computers. Their proliferation throughout our lives can be seen through our use of smartphones, TVs, and even home appliances. Of course, computers are also integral to how cars today operate and function.
Radar guidance, GPS navigation, and night vision wouldn’t be possible without computers. And even though they were a Second World War innovation, they soon became part of our everyday lives. All electronic components in cars, known as the Controller Area Network (CAN) are run through computers. This includes sensors, module components, and software protocols.
5. Interchangeable Parts
Modularity has remained a critical aspect of military budget spending as it allows vehicle manufacturers to create cost-saving solutions across the complete life cycle of new military vehicles.
Such modular designs have also played a factor in making cars. The use of standardized, interchangeable parts made mass production possible. The ability to make machines and parts cheaper and easier to produce led to the mass appeal of automotive vehicles. Without such interchangeability, vehicles may not exist in the same way that they do today.
There are certainly automotive technologies that aren’t rooted in military innovation. But for the most part, as militaries have improved their operational and situational presence on the battlefield through technological advancements, so, too, have commercial vehicles.
As military technology continues to evolve to respond to numerous threats and changes, it is likely we’ll see more changes in the roads of tomorrow.