10 innovative technologies that work behind the scenes to make cars safer
In the past vehicle safety was limited to just airbags and seatbelts but with an increasing number of accidents safety in vehicles has become a prime concern. Car manufacturers not only focus on the advancement of technologies to improve driveability of the car but are also working on technologies that keep you safe inside the car as well as help in avoiding crashes. Unlike airbags and seatbelts, these features are not apparent in the car and work invisibly to keep you safe. Here are some rather cool technologies that you can find in modern day cars, that keep you safe on the road:
1. Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward-Collision Warning
These two features are quite similar to each other in terms of their objective but their mechanism is different. The feature was introduced by Honda in 2003 in its fourth-gen variant of Inspire and was then adopted by many companies like Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Toyota. Automated Emergency Braking is a feature that is integrated with the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) of the car which when detects an object or a car in the front that is dangerously close to the car and automatically stops the car. In case the car is travelling at a high-speed it manages to reduce the speed of the car to the maximum extent possible so that the impact of the collision is much less. In forward-collision-warning, the car instead of braking, it sends signals to the driver to stop the car. Both the features work with the help of sensors and cameras fitted in front of the car and are designed in a way that can detect an object at a distance of 10 metres. Luxury cars like Volvo XC40 have these features as standard.
2. Transparent Hood
The transparent hood system is based on Continental’s Surround System which comprises four satellite cameras and an ECU. In this feature, the area under the hood is visible to the driver so that he has an accurate idea about the obstacles and the type of terrain which are not visible while driving. An image under the hood is reconstructed like an augmented reality display and shown to the driver. Land Rover showcased this feature in the Discovery Vision concept back in 2014.
3. Adaptive Cruise Control
Where regular cruise control keeps the car at a constant speed, adaptive cruise control uses sensors to locate cars ahead and adjust speed to maintain a safe distance -- slowing down and speeding up to maintain a set distance to the car in front. It can even brake the car if required to avoid a collision. In this feature, the system detects the cars in front with the help of radar placed behind the grille of the car and adjusts its speed.Mitsubishi introduced this feature in its model Diamante in the year 1995 which operated on laser sensors but it has become properly popular in more recent times.
4. Lane Departure warning
The Lane Departure Warning feature was introduced by Volvo in 2008 in cars like the S80, V70 and the XC70. The feature is mainly to discourage drivers from leaving their lane. A sensor detects the markings on the roads and issues continuous warnings to the driver when he/she is merging into another lane without proper indications. In certain cases the advanced version of this technology, the system self restricts this behaviour and adjusts the steering on its own along with corrective braking. Cars like Cadillac ATS, Chrysler 200, and Lincoln MKZ are equipped with a feature like this.
At times it is natural for a driver to feel drowsy during long road trips which results in loss in concentration while driving and can cost lives. To avoid such dangerous behaviour, Bosch came up with a technology that monitors fatigue. Instances like sudden deceleration or straying sideways across the lane are detected and the system in the car issues alerts to take a break. Car manufacturers like Volkswagen and Volvo have started offering this feature in some of their models whereas Mercedes-Benz has integrated this feature in their safety and assistance system in India.
6. Speed Assistance Monitoring
Speed Assistance monitoring is another feature designed to keep you safe on the road feature that is designed to prevent drivers from exceeding speed limits and is proven to work. In this feature, the system ensures that the vehicle doesn’t cross the legal speed limit and it constantly monitors the location of the car through GPS. If it detects that the driver is about to cross the prescribed limit, it issues audio as well as visual warnings to the driver. Manufacturers like Hyundai, Ford and Renault have this feature as a standard in some of their cars.
7.Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
The German auto supplier Bosch developed this technology which uses a number of smart sensors that constantly monitor the driving patterns which help in case the driver loses the control of the car. In this feature, if any instance of skidding or loss in traction takes place the system automatically stabilises the car with appropriate braking and steers it back to safety. This technology has started trickling down to mass-market products as well, and is becoming increasingly common in budget cars as well.
8. Occupant Safety Monitoring
This feature is an innovative technology that continuously monitors the positions of occupants in order to deploy airbags in case of a crash. For example, if the driver is seated too close to the steering wheel, in case of a crash, the passenger may hit the steering wheel before the airbag is deployed correctly. This feature provides real-time data to the system about the occupants position which helps in optimizing the airbag deployment.
9. Contact Sensor System (CoSSy)
This feature is another innovative technology from Continental which helps in detecting if a car is getting too close to a person or an object in its neighbourhood. It helps in making things like automated parking safer. It is based on a system that picks up the sound signal of a low-speed impact so that the car can be brought to an immediate emergency stop. This technology ensures that low-speed incidents can be stopped at the first instance of their occurrence and are not excarberated.
10. Intelligent Intersection
This safety feature is designed to curb accidents at intersections by providing vital information to drivers and other road users. The information about movement of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection is usually unavailable for drivers due to the prevalent blind spots, and can lead to accidents. It works by using a sensor which collects information about an intersection — like predicting when the signal phase will change and determining the blind-spots for drivers and pedestrians. The feature also makes it possible to warn an oncoming driver about a crossing pedestrian that is outside the driver’s line of sight and protects pedestrians, cyclists, and supports drivers in complex intersection traffic instances. The Intelligent Intersection feature was initially introduced as a concept in 2018 by Continental, and also enables the collection of data from intersections that are often congested or accident-prone zones, cities like Bengaluru or Mumbai.
For a country like India which recorded around 4.5 lakh accidents last year, these features will definitely bring much-needed safety in vehicles. These features will not only decrease the number of accidents in India but will also lower the number of deaths due to road traffic accidents in India. A lot of them like lane keeping assist require proper infrastructure to work -- it won’t work on an unmarked road but there’s no denying that some of these features are extremely useful to save lives.