Once upon a time, automotive safety equipment consisted of good ol’ American steel and good fortune. But as time passed and sparsely populated roadways evolved into densely packed highways and freeways, automotive manufacturing technology evolved as well. With the advent of lighter and cheaper materials, automakers discovered much more cost efficient ways to mass produce their products for a growing population of drivers. Unfortunately, as the cars got lighter the damages caused by accidents became more severe, both to the vehicle and the passengers.
Hence the introduction of automotive safety features that quickly became the governmentally mandated standard in all automobiles made and/or sold in the U.S. Beyond the basic safety features like seat belts and head rests, the three big technological advancements to vehicular safety in the 20th century were Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS), Supplemental Restraint Systems (SRS), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). Most of these technological advancements were amazing feats of mechanical technology with some computerized control components tossed in as the new millennium dawned.
For the 21st century driver, the safety features that come standard on most new vehicles resemble something you’d see on a science fiction movie set a long time from now in a future far, far away. But thanks to technological advancements of the digital age, drivers are not just benefitting today from some incredible safety features like back-up cameras, dual-stage air bags, and tire pressure monitors (to name a few), but there is some new tech coming that won’t just make modern vehicles safer, it will transform the way we drive.
Many of the safety features listed here are either in the works or are already being used in several makes and models across the automotive industry landscape. Here are just a few of the safety technologies coming soon to a vehicle near you:
Back Up Cameras
If you’ve bought a new car in the last few years, you’re most likely familiar with this feature. In case you haven’t been introduced to this safety tool, the concept is fairly simple. Put a camera in the rear of the vehicle to improve the driver’s vision when attempting to back up. Some vehicles even add “guide lines” onto the camera’s monitor to better aid the driver with the maneuver. The reason why this feature is on a list of “future” safety tech is because of the evolutionary advancements being produced for back up cameras. Check out this list of a few of the current and planned advancements in back up camera features:
- Variable Angle Rear Camera – As the name implies, this feature allows for multiple angles to better see what is behind you.
- Front Camera – Again, the title is fairly self explanatory. This camera will allow you to see what is in front of you beneath the view of the windshield.
- 360-degree Surround-View Camera – For those who want to see it all, this camera system gives you a view of the entire radius of your vehicle’s exterior.
This feature allows your car to sense when cross-traffic is about to hit (or “T-Bone”) your vehicle. The sensors along the sides of the vehicle can sense when someone is too close to the vehicle and will let the driver know with an illuminated warning on the dashboard as well as a warning beep. This feature is especially helpful with backing out of parking spaces in crowded parking lots or out of driveways.
Adaptive Cruise Control
This feature maintains not only the speed but also the distance between your vehicle and other vehicles or obstacles. Utilizing front-view cameras and computerized sensors, this feature will go a long way toward providing added safety while cruising down the highway.
Forward Collision Technology
Using cameras and sensors, this tech will either warn you of a potential front end collision with warning beeps and illuminated dash warnings, or actually stop the vehicle for you before impact with a computer controlled automated braking system. As you can imagine, insurance companies are particularly fond of this feature.
Blind Spot Warning Tech
Like the forward collision technology, this feature uses side-mounted sensors (and in some cases side-mounted cameras) to detect when vehicles are approaching from the dreaded “blind-spot” angle found in most vehicles. Not only will this feature warn the driver of encroaching traffic with illuminated icons in the side-view mirror and a warning beep, but in some vehicles, the computer will even help prevent the vehicle from moving into the approaching vehicles’s path.
Say goodbye to those night blindness issues. As the name implies, this feature will use infra-red tech to project a real-time illuminated view of the road ahead on the vehicle’s display screen. This tech will improve the visibility up to three times greater than with traditional low-beam headlights.
Drowsy Driver Detection
This tech is in its infancy stages but the safety advantages should be obvious. Using a combination of cameras and sensors, the vehicle will be able to detect activity associated with driving while sleepy. The driver will be warned with beeps and lights to let them know they may need to stop. In some vehicles, the car will safely pull the vehicle over once it has determined the driver hasn’t responded to the warnings.
These are just a few examples of the safety technologies that are currently in production or coming soon. We’re sure you can see the benefits to these safety features as automotive safety technology continues its evolution toward smarter and safer forms of travel for everyone.