Friday, 24 April 2015

GUEST - Where is the future of safer-driving technology?

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas introduced the world to impressive new driving technologies. The Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion, with its inward facing seats and little coffee table and an Audi that can be summoned by the touch of a smartwatch button were very impressive, even if they’re not quite suited to real-world motoring. At least not yet...

There are many other car manufacturers, however, that have introduced technologies into their vehicles that can make all the difference to modern driving. The focus here is safety, which will not only save lives on the roads but could also potentially save motorists money on their car insurance.

Ford is one manufacturer pushing ahead with car safety technology. The new S-MAX is fitted with an Intelligent Speed Limiter that allows drivers to set the maximum speed of their vehicle. What’s more, the car will slow down accordingly when speed restrictions are under the set limit. RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "On the face of it, this new technology offers a great deal of promise. It should help keep motorists within the law and, if used in the right way, could encourage safer driving.”

Jaguar Land Rover is another company worth mentioning – ‘ghost car’ technology highlights navigation instructions and even duplicates road signs that are obscured by other vehicles, while the external pedestrian airbag is unique in its class and one of only two available in the world.

Also making waves is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis – one of the safest saloon cars on the market. The IIHS has rated the Genesis 'superior' in front crash prevention when fitted with the optional Tech Package and Automatic Emergency Braking. The Genesis can also be equipped with a range of active-safety features, including blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist.

Many more exciting technologies are being discussed, are in development or are going through testing:
  • Driver override systems – The car can actively overrule the driver’s commands and make its own decisions
  • Active health monitoring – Seatbelt or steering wheel sensors can track vital statistics, which could tell drivers whether they’re physically fit to drive
  • Adaptive cruise control – Maintains a pre-set distance between cars and can bring the car to a full stop in order to maintain that distance
  • Parking assist – A step on from basic proximity sensors and alarms, this can find a suitable space and park the car automatically
  • Forward-collision mitigation – The simplest systems monitor objects on the road ahead to warn of a possible collision but more highly developed systems can automatically brake a car to a full stop.
All of this is in addition to the highly anticipated driverless car, which is still in the testing phase.

Many once-luxury optional extras, including air conditioning and electric windows, have become standard features. So hopefully sophisticated accident avoidance systems such as forward collision and lane departure warning systems will become more common in everyday cars and not just luxury models, saving lives on Britain’s roads.

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