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A sneak preview into the cars of the future

Posted on 13th Feb, 2013 by Jonathan Peach

vehicle-safetyWe recently saw a very interesting article in The Independent suggesting that, some time in the near future, we could be living in a world of self stopping, speed-limited or even driverless vehicles.

These predictions are hardly surprising after the latest figures, which reveal that 883 drivers and their passengers, 453 pedestrians and 107 cyclists died on Britain’s roads last year.

Since most of these accidents are caused by drivers’ speeding, getting distracted or driving carelessly, the new technologies, which were publicised at the Detroit Motor Show and the Consumer Electronics Show, are aimed at making traffic slower, controlled and predicable.

We thought we’d give you snapshot of things to come…

Parent power

“My Key” is the latest innovation from Ford, allowing worried parents to finally gain some control over their child’s driving.

The pre-programmed key will limit the car’s top speed, reduce the volume and keep safety aids switched on.

Auto speed

Imagine a car that can speed up or slow down with the traffic flow.

Well, radar-guided control does just that. This innovation, along with automatic braking, is already a feature of top end cars, but now others like Ford Fiestas and VW Golfs are starting to follow suit.

It will warns you to apply the brakes or apply them for you in the event of a likely collision.

There will even be a European regulation that comes into force next year that requires autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to score a high safety rating.

This technology also powers lane-departure warning systems, triggering an alarm if you go into the wrong lane on the motorway.

At Vision Techniques, we have a strong interest in developing these types of technologies. Find out more about our auto braking and sensor technology.

Self-drive

Google has been testing driverless cars for years and even has a Nevada driving licence for one.

Major car manufacturers are now jumping on this bandwagon. To prevent drivers making mistakes, Toyota and Audi are testing these using on-board radar and video cameras to monitor the road.

They still use driver controls but can operate in self-drive mode.

Pedestrian airbags

The world’s first pedestrian airbag may seem strange, but Volvo insists it is worthwhile.

Volvo Engineer Thomas Broberg says: “It raises the bonnet to create distance [from the pedestrian], and secondly it cushions the impact around the hard parts of the area near the windscreen.”

The airbag is active at speeds between 10mph and 30mph where most collisions happen.

Lighter is safer

Since heavy vehicles make accidents so much worse, light-weight aluminium materials is starting to be used on everyday cars.

Weight is crucial in an accident and using lighter metals will reduce the impact and, therefore, the damage caused.