It seems like technology changes so fast, the phones we buy today are already old by the time we figure out how to use them! We are witnessing advances at an unprecedented pace, and the changes in automobile technology are no exception.
Manufacturers are constantly improving their high-tech driver assistance systems. There are currently no fully autonomous cars on US roads (yet), but some of the new driver assistance systems out there come pretty close.
Car tech trends are designed to make driving easier and safer for the humans behind the wheel. Some features already come standard. For those of you still rocking a flip phone, the trends we’re highlighting today may just blow your mind. It’s okay. Even those of us who see the technology first hand are regularly amazed.
Cars That Park For You
Here’s a technology that makes us all look like expert parallel-parkers!
Self-parking hasn’t been around very long. The purpose of self-parking is to accurately steer your car into a parking space while you sit back and relax. Most automakers are including this tech at various levels. Some assist with parallel parking, some with perpendicular spots, a few help with both. In general, these systems will locate an appropriate spot and safely maneuver into it (with speed and gears in your control).
BMW’s parking technology is pretty impressive. Like its competitors, their Parking Assistance feature allows the car to search for a parallel parking spot and basically park it for you (you’ll control speed and gears). But add the optional Remote Control Parking feature and you don’t even have to be in the car! Just control your BMW using the key fob. (Incidentally, some of us have been practicing for this moment since the 80s when we built our first R/C Tamiya Hotshot.)
Of course, Tesla offers equally impressive tech in a system they call Enhanced Autopilot. Among many other features, it includes auto parking and a neat Summon Mode that allows you to move your car using a smartphone app.
What Blind Spot?
As car designs evolve, technology is making the unparalleled visibility you can get in a boxy Subaru Forester less important.
There are basically two kinds of blind spot monitoring: passive and active.
Passive blind spot monitoring uses a special convex mirror installed in your external rear-view mirror to make you aware of possible danger. It’s a low-tech solution, but it works well for many people.
Active blind spot monitoring is the higher tech option.
Volvo was the first to use cameras for blind spot monitoring way back in 2005! Since then, systems have gotten slicker. Today, manufacturers either use digital cameras or radar that sends electromagnetic waves out to detect vehicles located in a blind spot. Drivers are alerted with LED lights that appear either just inside their windshield or on their outside rear-view mirror. If you put your signal on and try to move into a lane where a hidden car has been identified, your car is likely to flash or beep at you as if to say, “Hey! Are you really sure you want to do that?”
Exceptional technology award goes to Infiniti on this one. Their BSW (Blind-Spot Warning) also uses radar, but they take protection a bit further. Instead of just flashing or beeping at you, if you try to move your car into a lane it doesn’t think you should move into, the car will gently apply the brakes so you swerve back where you belong. You can almost hear the car mumbling under its breath, “You just wouldn’t listen, would you.”
Telematics: Convenience At A Price
Systems like OnStar are installed on many new cars and after a trial period, you have to pay if you want to keep the service. Telematic systems offer many conveniences like remote-door unlock, navigation, emergency support, internet connectivity, and more. The idea that a telematics center has an awful lot of control over how your car operates can be unsettling to some. For example, if your car has been reported stolen, most systems can prevent the car from starting or slow the vehicle if police are in pursuit. If you don’t mind that, or knowing that without warning a strange voice inside the car might ask how you’re doing, it may be worth the peace of mind.
Cruisin’ In The 21st Century
Self-driving cars may be a thing of the future, but adaptive cruising is already here. This is an example of a feature that used to only be available in the high-end cars that’s now available in many of the more moderately priced vehicles. The technology goes by different names (ACC or Super Cruise) but it’s essentially the same thing. Instead of setting a specific speed and staying there, this feature allows you to set cruise so your car moves with the traffic. Using cameras or radar technology assessing the traffic ahead of you, adaptive cruise control will slow you down if the cars ahead slow down or increase speed if everyone’s moving along nicely. It’s a nice advancement and it makes long-distance traveling a breeze.
Here at Sherwood Auto Repair we’ve been working on cars for more than 30 years. We have the experience and the know-how to repair your old VW bug and your brand-new Mercedes. Have you been in to see us lately?