During the past decade, automakers have made significant strides in incorporating sophisticated sensing capabilities into vehicles. As automation gains wider acceptance in society and the “Internet of Things” develops, car designers have begun applying some advanced robotic technologies to help promote easier, safer travel.
Although many innovations remain available as upgrades in 2017 models, just like air bag technology a few years ago some of these currently advanced systems may soon become widespread. Consider a few important recent breakthroughs:
Rear View Cameras
Already a standard features in several 2016 models, rear view cameras provide valuable assistance to drivers in many situations. Most people steering in reverse gear from a garage onto a busy street or backing up a vehicle to attach a trailer hitch in unfamiliar surroundings find the assistance of a rear-view camera useful.
Automakers urge customers not to depend completely upon rear view cameras. While it still remains important to look backwards before placing an automobile or truck into reverse, the presence of cameras in a growing number of vehicles has likely already contributed to safer driving. Some recreational vehicle manufacturers embraced this technology years ago.
Forward Collision Alert Technologies
A few automakers have begun utilizing sophisticated sensors to notify drivers when forward collisions appear imminent. This type of system issues an alert if the car approaches another vehicle too rapidly. The technology may prove especially valuable in reducing fender benders caused by tailgating. Drivers also benefit from these advanced warnings while driving in heavy snow or fog.
Although not infallible, this innovation will likely reduce automotive accidents involving pedestrians, too. Some manufacturers have even programmed vehicles to automatically slow or brake when a forward impact becomes inevitable. The reduction in speed could reduce injuries during collisions.
Lane Shift Alerts
One of the most promising sophisticated new warning systems notifies a driver whenever the vehicle makes an unexpected lane change. Drifting out of the lane of traffic poses a significant threat to safety in situations in which a driver becomes drowsy and experiences brief periods of “micro sleep”. In fact, studies have established that sleepy drivers frequently nod off for a few seconds at a time, periods when the vehicle may veer dangerously into oncoming traffic or drift off the roadway.
By issuing an alert when an unanticipated sudden change in trajectory occurs, these alarm systems may cause distracted or drowsy drivers to pull over and rest. The new technology appears to hold some significant safety benefits. Still optional in most models, the ability of drivers to receive alerts from “smart” vehicles monitoring lane changes will likely prevent accidents in the future.
Night Vision Cameras
Although still very expensive and limited in application mainly to luxury automobiles, optional night vision technologies have become more popular. A driver of a vehicle equipped with this feature enjoys the ability to use cameras in the car to survey the surroundings with the same sophisticated infrared systems employed in night vision goggles.
Potentially, this technology will benefit people traveling after dark, especially in poorly lit areas. Every year, deer and other wildlife crossing onto roadways precipitate car accidents. Night vision cameras enable drivers to detect wildlife, roadway obstructions or parked, broken-down vehicles more effectively. The technology also will help provide advance notice of pedestrians walking along the side of the road or crossing streets in poorly illuminated areas.
Some 2016 vehicles , offer a complete sophisticated surround-view monitoring system. Drivers can obtain a 360 degree perspective by examining a computerized diagram on the vehicle’s display screen.
This innovative system promises to reduce accidents associated with “blind spots” as drivers change lanes in busy traffic. This computer technology still requires alert driving, of course, yet it does promise to promote greater highway safety as it becomes more widespread.
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