Structural electronics is replacing the old components-in-a-box approach with smart materials as load-bearing parts and as smart skin and e-textiles. For example, a recent IDTechEx interview with one of the largest car Japanese companies revealed that their experimental 3D printing of ultra-lightweight car seats based on bird bone structure, will now become 3DPE with electrics and electronics built into the seat as it is grown.
Meanwhile, teams in Australia, the UK and the US demonstrating supercapacitor car bodies using in-mould electronics. Also in Japan, IDTechEx was recently told by a chemical giant that such structural electronics materials are now top of its priorities.
The third new technology megatrend, energy independent electric vehicles (EIVs) exist on and under water, as airships and planes and as on-road and off road vehicles, explains Dr Peter Harrop, IDTechEx' Chairman. They typically rely on sunshine sometimes with other forms of energy harvesting as well, including waves and wind making electricity to power their motors.
Mostly they rely on flexible photovoltaics with a dramatic roadmap of improvement including Sumitomo Electric ultra-lightweight Fresnel lens film taking it to a remarkable 44% efficiency - more kilowatts per vehicle.
Additionally, modes such as wave, wind and tidal power creating electricity for traction are being added. This multiple on-board harvesting will further boost the already impressive speed, payloads and duty cycles.
Check out IDTechEx' most recent reports, " Structural Electronics 2015-2025 ", " 3D Printed Electronics and Circuit Prototyping 2015-2025 " and " Energy Independent Vehicles 2016-2026 ".