Do you remember what technological advancements happened in the early 2010s?
IBM’s Watson’s defeated Jeopardy’s all-time best contestants showcasing the evolution of AI. The first iPad released, launching the era of tablet computers. Virtual assistants first entered our homes with the Amazon Echo. Twitter debuted, introducing the concept of microblogging.
And companies big and small made waves in the area of mobility.
As a fleet manager, you’re likely optimistic about what this decade has to offer in terms of mobility technology. In an upcoming article, we’ll set the stage for the 2020s. But first, let’s take a moment to remember where we’ve been. Often, the past offers a window into the future so let’s look back at the innovations that debuted in the early 2010s.
Electric Vehicle Technology
While the first mass production of the hybrid vehicle occurred in 1997 in Japan with Toyota, development took off in 2010. Tesla‘s success as a luxury sports car maker was turning heads, spurring other automakers to produce their own models. In fact, the first plugin-hybrid, the Chevy Volt, was made commercially available in 2010. Nissan too turned heads with the LEAF, the all-electric zero tailpipe emission vehicle.
Around this time, from 2009 to 2013, the Department of Energy spearheaded nationwide charging infrastructure development. Joined by automakers and other private organizations, 8,000 chargers were installed on 20,000 commercial, public and residential properties.
Another important event that paved the way for where electric vehicles are today is the cost of the battery. In 2013, the price decreased by 50%, making affordable electric vehicle ownership a reality. While the price of the battery dropped, its performance increased, providing more power, storage and durability.
Connected Vehicle Technology
At the start of the decade, telematics applications began integrating with mobile applications. One example is the OnStar Mobile app premiering at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The proliferation of electric vehicles ignited the need for remote capabilities. The Chevy Volt was able to set charge time and unlock doors with an app. The Nissan LEAF used the CarWings iPhone app to control internal vehicle climate, charging and range.
Vehicle to infrastructure and technology debuted at this time. In later years, various companies continued to upgrade their features such as OnStar’s FamilyLink, which located family members and sent text and email alerts. The Mercedes-Benz mbrace added social networking, web browsing, geofencing and more. The Audi 7 launched featured 3G connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation powered by Google Earth.
In 2013, 4G LTE data connectivity was featured in the Audi A3 that hit the European market. The following year, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots were featured in many GM vehicles.
The year 2014 is considered the start of the era of full connectivity. Smart home gadgets began taking off and consumer interest extended to vehicles with automakers following suit. By 2015, more than 17 million vehicles had some connectivity functionality. At this time, the U.S. was in the research and development phase of building smart city infrastructures, by awarding grants to three cities. V2X technology debuted early in the decade.
In 2015, several news stories reported on vehicle hacking vulnerabilities. Researchers were able to remotely unlock BMW vehicles. A Jeep Cherokee was also remotely accessed from 10 miles away, with the individuals controlling the brakes, radio and accelerator. This increased the pressure to advance security measures for protecting against future breaches.
Ride Sharing Technology
The sharing economy took off in the past decade. Uber launched in San Francisco in 2010. It was more of a luxury service at that time, allowing people to hail black cars with ease. Lyft launched a couple years later as a competitor under the name Zimride. They offered long–distance rides, connecting people through Facebook.
Other modes of shared transportation gained prominence in this time such as public bikes—electric and manual. Trailing the global interest in urban bike–sharing infrastructures, various cities in the U.S. launched their own programs. Washington D.C. had the Capital Bikeshare with Minneapolis following with Nice Ride and Denver’s B-cycle. In 2013, New York launched 6,000 bikes in a program that was fully publicly funded. That year, the global bike share economy rose 60% with 700,00 bikes throughout the world.
Autonomous Vehicle Technology
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is credited with helping build the foundation for autonomous vehicles as it encouraged partnerships between the education and the automotive sector. In 2010, Google announced it was in the development and testing stages of technology that would halve the amount of accidents occurring each year. Using seven prototypes outfit with cameras, sensors, radar and GPS. Five years later, they logged 1 million miles and just 13 collisions.
During this time, GM and Carnegie Mellon University formed the Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab. Volkswagen and Stanford University, too, had a partnership. The DARPA Urban Challenge allowed engineers to compete with their latest models, spurring innovation. In 2013, Audi and Toyota debuted their plans for autonomous vehicles at its CES event.
Since then there have been multiple advancements in this technology from the sensors to the algorithms that compute the data. While early plans put commercial rollouts of this technology in 2020, later forecasts were pushed back as the need for more data proved necessary to perfect the system.
In each of these mobility categories, the technology continued to advance in the decade until ultimately bringing us where we are today. Stay tuned for our piece that dives into the future of mobility in the coming years.
What do you think was the most impactful innovation of the 2010s? Let us know on LinkedIn.