From Flying to Self-Driving: Visualising Automotive Tech

Trends / Technology
luza studios
Carolina Sampaio Lechner
Jan 3, 2023
From The Jetsons1 through Back to the Future2 (“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”) to The Fifth Element3, pop culture has brought us flying cars as THE future of automotive tech innovation. Although the ever‑promised utopia of driving in the air does not seem too far from becoming reality,at least to the few who can afford, technological innovation has been bringing a different picture to production sites and the roads.

Industry made smarter and greener: Emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, IoT, cloud computing and analytics are transforming factories and production.5 The fourth industrial revolution, aka Industry 4.0, addresses sustainability expectations consumers have towards brands – e.g., by using IoT connectivity and predictive analytics to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing,6 which is one of the most important actions companies can take to prove they are committed to sustainability, according to consumers in our newest VisualGPS research. Here, there is an opportunity to visualise implemented automotive tech in a way that involves the people behind its, as well as having a conceptual approach to showing tech’s positive effect on the environment.

Mobility security redefined: If seatbelts and airbags have long been the definition of safety on the roads, this concept has been redefined by the introduction of advanced technologies in the mobility experience. From connected cars to autonomous driving, these technologies contribute to the comfort and security of both those in‑ and outside the vehicles. This means having any mobility service at the touch of a button,7 cars automatically slowing down for hazards on the way,8 or even allowing drivers to surrender the oh‑so‑loathed search for a parking spot – and the parking itself!9, 10 With comfort and security being central parts of consumer’s experience of automotive tech innovations, it is important to keep these concepts in mind in your visual strategy, with images that put transparency and people's emotional benefits to the fore.
The visual evolution of AI in the Automotive sector, from 2017 to 2022 and beyond
The importance of advanced technologies for the industry brings along the necessity to communicate and visualise them – a challenge which many of our customers are faced with. After all, how to visualise something that is this abstract? Naturally, as the understanding and the application of these technologies evolve, so does their visualisation. Let’s take AI as an example and travel back in time for a bit, in the best sci‑fi manner.
Download pattern by European Getty Images and iStock customers in 2017
Download pattern by European Getty Images and iStock customers in 2022
Next: humanised and implemented AI
Five years ago, download patterns by European Getty Images and iStock customers in this sector showed literal translations of the concept of artificial intelligence. These translations took form, for example, in humanoid robots, concretising the abstract, and demystifying the unknown. Fast‑forward to the present, we see the humanoid robots making way for real ones, e.g., on factory floors, and slightly more real‑human‑tech interaction. But especially, we see technology visualised as an abstract concept, networks formed of light beams and streams and hologram‑like touch panels. Shiny data flowing in an undefined technical universe – without disclosing where to and what for.

So, where could the journey go next for the visualisation of advanced technologies in Automotive? Consider showing how advanced technologies are being implemented, and the people behind these implementations. Which solutions they are bringing? When it comes to the industry and environment, think about showing how tech is being used in the design and optimisation of automotive manufacturing. Additionally, consider using conceptual visuals that show the positive impact of technology on the environment.
The consumer perspective
While advanced technologies continue to be implemented in the auto industry, consumers are torn between excitement and anxiety about the hyper‑digital world we’re living in today, as our VisualGPS survey showed. Nearly half of Europeans report that AI makes them very nervous, as well as how heavily the world will rely on technology in the future. At the same time, slightly over half see how AI could benefit their lives and are excited to see what the future looks like as technology evolves. This ambivalence does not stop at automotive tech, e.g., mobility automation: according to a 2019 Eurobarometer study, half of Europeans “would not use automated vehicles if given the opportunity”, with one possible explanation of distrust being – ironically – the exaggerated trust early adopters have on autonomous vehicles and how it.11 Interestingly, a 2021 study conducted within the EU‑funded PAsCAL project found that consumers see a positive impact of Connected Autonomous Cars (CAVs) on ecological sustainability and safety, but a negative impact on privacy.12 Indeed, consumers told us they are concerned about the security of the tech itself – independent of where and how it is implemented. Nearly 8 in 10 Europeans want to own their data and pick who uses it and how it is used, and 90% want to see companies taking more measures to protect their identity and privacy.
Consumers are torn between excitement and anxiety about hyper‑digital mobility.
Given consumer tensions about emerging tech and cybersecurity, ask yourself if you are fostering trust with clear visuals that demystify complex tech. It is worth showing how real technologies are integrated into real people’s lives. Show the emotional benefits of knowing the implemented tech is caring for safety and convenience, be it on the road, booking a ride, or paying online for a parking ticket. When doing so, think about who you are portraying, and if you are adopting an intersectional lens. Finally, engage your audience with surprising visuals that draw the viewer in through unexpected angles, new and interesting colour palettes, and immersive graphics as virtual and analogue worlds merge.
1 The Jetsons (YouTube)
2 Back to the Future (YouTube)
3 The Fifth Element (YouTube)
4 Are flying cars finally ready to take off? (McKinsey)
5 How Industry 4.0 technologies are changing manufacturing (IBM)
6 Digitalization is the key that can unlock net‑zero for industry (World Economic Forum)
7 e.g., jelbi 
8 Why the future for cars is connected (World Economic Forum)
9 e.g., Vay 
10 e.g., Bosch with Mercedes Benz (reuters)
11 Do you trust automated cars? If not, you’re not alone (Horizon/European Commission)
12 How do Europeans feel about self‑driving cars? (Cordis/European Commission)
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