Volvo has a pedestrian detection system that brakes automatically. Ford sells a car that parallel parks itself using sensors. The first versions of automatic braking systems prevented 25% of low-speed crashes. And now autonomous – or “self-driving” – cars are coming to a highway near you.
According to a CNN report, recent improvements in auto safety that herald the slow progress towards autonomous cars include:
- Electronic stability control to keep cars from skidding,
- Steering systems that prevent lane drift, and
- Vehicle radar to sense the speed of other cars and automatically adjust to traffic.
The next step: vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology that would allow your car to communicate with other vehicles on the road. Eventually, cars would be talking with each other, and even exchanging information with elements like stoplights. The technology is discussed at length in the new issue of Consumer Reports.
“The first phase was about passive systems—air bags and so on…The second was about active safety, including electronic stability control, collision-avoidance systems, etc. The third phase will be about car-to-car communication that can dramatically reduce the number of crashes on our roads.” Brian Lyons, Toyota’s manager of safety and quality communications
There are an alarming number of motor vehicle fatalities on American roads – over 30,000 in just 2010. The auto industry’s technological advances can improve safety and work towards reducing the risk of injury or death for millions on a daily basis.
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