Technology has made our lives easier, more connected, and even safer. It continues to evolve and change at an incredible rate. A decade ago the only smartphone was a Blackberry which gave rise to mobile email. We now have access to thousands of apps to help us plan menus, shop, take pictures, read books, and connect. Technology has entered our homes too. We have programmable thermostats to manage our power usage, smart home systems that can turn on lights before we arrive, record shows and sporting events when we’d rather watch something else, and washing machines that help us use less water.
Technology is changing our cars and trucks too. Most vehicles have anti-lock brakes, front airbags and most models have access to side curtain airbags all of which protect us in the event of a crash. There are computers and systems that get us to the right destination, open a door, control our fuel system to enhance our economy, and even systems that tell if there’s something behind us.
There is even more technology coming or already here and it’s not just on the luxury cars either. As prices on these technologies decrease, they are becoming available on mainstream vehicles too. Here are 5 new car technologies that are either already here or coming soon to your next new car:
- Collision warning with automatic braking
- Advanced cameras
- Lane centering
- Adaptive headlights
Collision Warning with Automatic Braking: These systems are designed to help drivers avoid colliding with another vehicle or stationary object utilizing radar and cameras. When sensors determine a collision is imminent, these systems will do one of various operations including:
- Warn the driver using beeps of a possible front-end crash.
- May stop the car or apply brakes to slow the car and lessen the impact.
- Apply brakes if they sense the car leaving the road heading toward a stationary or moving object.
Automakers with automatic braking systems include Mercedes Benz, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti and Volvo and more will follow.
Advanced Cameras: Government regulations are requiring all automakers to have backup cameras on all models by 2015. Many car companies are rolling them out ahead of the regulations as cameras become smaller and less expensive. They’re also being used in more ways than just for backing up.
- Honda is mounting side cameras in the mirrors that come on when a turn signal is activated. This is to help the driver spot obstructions when turning.
- Nissan has four cameras that connect to an around-view screen creating an integrated image to help a driver back out of a parking spot safely.
- Subaru and Volvo have cameras mounted into the front if the car to help it brake automatically to avoid hitting a pedestrian.
Lane Centering: Have you ever found yourself wandering into the next lane? Lane centering technology will help prevent that. A camera in front monitors the road to help determine if you’re about to wander into the adjacent lane. If it senses you are, it will use the brakes to nudge you back to the center of your lane.
This technology, Lane Keep Assist, is available on most Mercedes Benz models, as well as the Ford Explorer, Ford Fusion, Lexus GS, Lincoln MKZ, and Toyota Prius. Look for availability on more models in the coming years.
Adaptive Headlights: Headlights used to either be round or rectangular but they are changing. LED, light emitting diodes, which have been popular on Audi models for the last two or three years, are popping up on many more models. Acura, Audi, Mercedes, and Mazda even have headlights that swivel into the direction a car is turning, helping the driver see around the curve or corner. Other manufacturers have added lights that dim the high beams automatically when an oncoming car approaches.
Stop-Start: I have a friend who travels to Europe several times a year on business. This technology has been available on various models of European cars for the past couple of years. When a car comes to a complete stop such as at a traffic light, the engine turns off automatically. Once the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine restarts and the driver goes on their merry way.
The CAFÉ standards released by the Obama administration in 2012 require all automakers selling vehicles in the US to have an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Current CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards are 30.8 miles per gallon. Start-stop technology will be one tool that will help automakers achieve that standard.
Technology in our vehicles will continue to move into all models as prices for that technology diminishes. The goals of such technology will help make vehicles safer, more fuel efficient, and enhance the driver and passenger experience. From an insurance perspective, I’ve not encountered any insurance company offering discounts for the technologies listed here. Given the competitive nature between the various companies, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of these were added. I’ll keep you posted if and when that happens.
What technology would you like to see on your next new car? Post your suggestions, comments, and questions on our Google + and Facebook pages or in the comments section of our blog. I’d love to hear from you!