Car manufacturers are always making small tweaks and modifications to their designs, both aesthetically and mechanically. However when you look at progression over the years in terms of functional change things have remained much more evolutionary than revolutionary.
However in recent times there have been some technological innovations which have had a really big impact on day to day driving experiences. This blog post will focus on these recent advancements in technology and analyse how they have impacted motoring.
Parking assistance is a fairly new addition to the car market. However it is one that has really exploded in the last couple of years due to manufacturers competing in a technology arms race to win customers. It comes in various forms from simple parking sensors to full-blown automated parking controlled by an on-board computer.
The first form of parking assistance to reach the market came in the form of front and rear parking sensors. These front/rear sensors are an addition to cars which use the age old technology of sonar. By emitting a high frequency sound wave which is beyond the range of human hearing the sensors can detect how much of this sound is being reflected back. The more of this sound/beam which is being reflected back to the car the closer objects are. This allows an in-car computer to alert the driver when they’re getting too close to another vehicle, wall or obstruction – preventing bumps and collisions.
The parking sensor has since evolved into parking cameras. These cameras placed at the rear of the vehicle are linked up to an internal monitor allowing drivers to know precisely how close they are to objects behind them. Often parking cameras are integrated with parking sensors as well to give a combined warning system.
Finally, and most recently there is now automatic parking assistance. This is where the car essentially parks itself using a combination of an on-board computer and the external sensors/cameras to enter a space. All the driver has to do is control the pedals and keep the car appropriately in motion. This use of technology is incredibly impressive and is the sort of thing that could only be dreamed of in the past. It also leads us onto the next advancement in car technology which is self-driving cars.
Once only fathomable in science fiction films self-driving cars are now very much reality. Not quite on the roads at a consumer level yet… but we’re not far away at all! Everyone from major car manufacturers to search engine giants Google are working on self-driving cars.
This summer in California (where Google are based) there will be a number of self-driving cars on public roads. The company is completely confident in their ability to provide safe transportation, now it’s just for the various regulatory bodies to agree. The cars which will be released for public testing will be limited to 25mph and must have manual controls in-case of emergencies. Nonetheless this is a ground-breaking adjustment and one which if it gains popularity will completely change the face of driving forever.
Crash Prevention Systems
Crash prevention systems are very much real and are being built into cars being manufactured today. The generally accepted term for the technology is a ‘pre-collision system’. These were first introduced to the market by Lexus around 10 years ago and are becoming more commonplace with each new release to the market from various manufacturers.
A pre-collision system will collate a number of data inputs from exterior and interior sensors to warn the driver if danger is detected. At first these were very elementary and could only detect the most obvious of hazards. However there are now a lot more subtle uses of technology being integrated into pre-collision systems. For example eye tracking technology is being used to detect when a driver is getting drowsy and create a warning to pull over and rest.
Some systems go as far taking physical action to prevent a collision from happening. This can be from as drastic to adjusting the steering for you to slowing the car to a safe stop. Alongside self-driving cars these systems are probably the most impressive use of technology today in motoring.
Universally Accessible Sat-Nav
With smart-phones being so commonplace these days almost everyone is equipped with a Sat Nav. Using the built in maps function on most Android or Apple smartphones you are ready to go and start navigating.
This means that expensive standalone Tom-Tom or Garmin satellite navigation systems are pretty much something of the past. Possibly buying a stand so you’re phone isn’t sliding around whilst driving would help, but apart from that you’re good to go!
Virtual Journey Planning
This is one that we’re probably all guilty of having done at some point…That is using ‘Google Street View’ to virtually drive parts of our journey before actually setting off.
When you’re going to a new place you’re unsure of it can help calm the nerves to jump into the Google earth van. With a few clicks on a button you can be traveling down pretty much any road in first person view. This allows you to drive your route in advance from the comfort of your couch or chair.
After all it’s much better to make a wrong turn in your underwear than when you’re stressed out and have 30 miles of motorway ahead of you before the next turn off!
Categories : Fun Car Stuff