We live in a world that is constantly searching for new technology to make everything faster, smoother, better, and more effortless, and the car industry is certainly no exception. We have moved from the single Model T to thousands of different models that can be customized with almost any feature the owner would like. Our cars can now direct us where to go, reroute us when we get lost or encounter heavy traffic, parallel park themselves, and call for help if we are in an accident. With features like these already available, the focus now switches to what car technologies are still to come, and what else our cars will be able to do for us in the very near future.
One of the most important features of automobiles has always been, and will always be, safety. BMW will be adding advanced safety features to its new models that will detect oncoming cars from multiple directions and laser-based collision avoidance systems. In addition, BMW will also be introducing a feature that helps cars sense and avoid pedestrians. This system is not perfect, as it requires the pedestrian to wear a transporter in order to be detected, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Mercedes is also starting to implement Pre-Safe systems, which anticipate crashes and prepare the car and passengers. When this system detects a possible accident, it warns the driver, then prepares the airbags, tightens seatbelts, reduces engine power, and primes the brakes so that any touch will apply their full force. Some high-end automakers have also begun introducing adaptive brake lights. Adaptive brake lights alert the cars behind you to how quickly you are braking and how suddenly you are stopping. These brake lights will show normally, unless you brake in an emergency, in which case they will blink rapidly, warning other drivers.
A feature many people think of when they hear the words “car technology” is self-driving cars. While we are not there yet, current technologies continue to bring us closer to the reality of driverless automobiles. Adaptive cruise control takes almost all of the effort out of driving on highways and for long distances. Adaptive cruise control differs from regular cruise control in that it senses other cars on the road. The adaptive feature then adjusts the speed of the car to the speed of the person in front, and maintains a safe driving distance between the automobiles.
Since the economic crash, increase in fuel cost, and rise in concern about the environment, reducing fuel consumption has become an important issue. BMW will be introducing a navigation system that will include a setting to allow which route the driver would like to take: the standard, quick, or economical. They will also be including a public transport information system, which will be able to tell the driver if it would actually be quicker to use public transportation than to drive to their destination. Many new cars also now feature an economy setting, which disconnects the engine when the driver is not accelerating. The economy mode may also be turned on by the driver, and will turn off non-essential features, turn down the air conditioning, and may enable cruise control.