Automotive Technology has come a long way to aid driving and assist in overall safety. It truly redefines the way we drive today as most people can’t really drive an old-school manual transmission or cars from the 70s through the early 90s, anyways. Not only has car technology evolved, but powertrains too are switching from petrol/diesel combustion engines to either hybrids or full electric. Given a little more time, cars will be able to drive by themselves, or what has come to be known as autonomous driving.
When we refer to auto technology, we are referring to autonomy or autonomous technologies. With auto technologies, driving isn’t the same as it was 20 – 30 years ago. Today, most cars have an onboard chip that controls a wide range of functions to influence driving, actively or passively.
The onboard chip in a car activates installed features such as Navigation, cruise control, driver’s alerts, voice commands and various vehicle functions. Most common of all is Android Auto or CarPlay connectivity, which replaces Bluetooth and wired connections. Most auto manufacturers have made CarPlay and Android Auto, or one of the two as standard equipment in the infotainment package. This smart feature basically projects a phone onto the available display touchscreen, ranging from 7” to 12.3”. This enables your phone to be the remote control for telephony, entertainment and such.
Navigation becomes an integral feature of in-car infotainment
Car navigation system has evolved from the days of portable GPS devices to in-car navigation systems. It becomes a key feature of the infotainment system. Car navi. system can now be activated by voice as well as your standard finger gestures. Voice assistant is becoming more intuitive, thanks to Apple’s Siri and Google. It allows user to interact with the car and activate plenty of functions. The likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even National carmaker Proton have the in-built “Hi (Brand)” voice recognition as standard in their cars.
Constant monitoring and assistance to ensure utmost Safety
These days, every car has advanced safety from collision warning to intuitive emergency braking, depending on model grades of course. The pre-installed active systems are meant to help protect or mitigate accidents and save lives.
The latest driver assistance systems serve as a perfect back-up to cover occasional human errors, but they are not complete substitutes to human control. One such assistance system is the Adaptive Cruise Control, an example of a system with a built-in stop and go function. It takes the collaboration of 30 control units to analyze the surrounding environment of the vehicle. The cruise control regulates the speed according to the distance between the car and the vehicle in front.
If you’ve browse car catalogues of late, you’d have noticed some of the assistance systems including; Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Parking Assistant or Automatic Parking Assist, Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Cameras and Wi-Fi hotspot. Here’s a breakdown of what they are:
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA): RCTA is primarily used to aid parking. It assists driver to back out from a parking spot and view the back of the car. It detects oncoming vehicles from right or left. When available, RCTA becomes active when the car hits the reverse gear. Visuals usually appear on the dashboard’s touchscreen, a rear view camera or side mirror.
Another version of automated parking is the Automatic Parking Assist. Park Assist uses ultrasonic sensors located at the vehicle’s front, rear and sides to detect a parking spot. The system is designed to help you park alongside a detected vehicle or vehicles. The system then automatically steers your vehicle into a detected spot while moving at idle speed. It uses automatic steering, while you select Drive and Reverse gears and remove your hands from the steering wheel as instructed.
Lane Departure Warning Systems: One of the advanced safety technologies, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) alerts drivers when they unintentionally drift out of their lanes without a turn signal. It’s important to note that LDWS does not take full control of the vehicle or keep the driver from operating it.
LDWS works with the car’s camera to monitor lane markings and detect when a vehicle is moving out of its lane. When it detects that a vehicle is veering out of its lane, an alert warns the driver of the unintentional lane shifts so the driver could steer the vehicle back into its lane.
Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEBS): AEBS detect an impending forward crash with another vehicle in time to avoid or mitigate the crash. These systems first alert the driver to take corrective action to avoid the crash. If the driver’s response is not sufficient to avoid the crash, the AEBS may automatically apply the brakes to assist in preventing or reducing the severity of a crash. In premium car models, AEBS also include Dynamic Brake Support (DBS) and Crash Imminent Braking (CIB).
Car Cameras have evolved quite a bit from the first reverse camera at the turn of the century. These days, cameras are mounted in the front, reverse and side of the car, depending on vehicle grade and model, of course. A car camera is meant to monitor particular area and works more effectively compared to sensors.
Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Dashcam is a popular equipment in cars, of late. It provides automatic and continuous recording of any visual events with audio. The recordings are generally used as key evidence if a dispute occurs during collisions or accidents. DVR is a safety and protective mechanism against reckless drivers. In addition, DVR could also be used to record your memorable journey or beautiful sceneries, without compromising on safety.
Wi-Fi hotspot or built-in internet connectivity in cars is fairly new, but fast becoming a necessity as more and more automakers are incorporating it. Now, cars can access the internet and become a WiFi hotspot. There are several ways to enable the Net and Wi-Fi hotspot in your car: a car will use its infotainment system to establish a connection. Once that connection is established, it allows pairing of devices. This service typically requires a subscription to a telco network or manufacturer’s connect-to-the-internet options. When activated, occupants in the car and people in a short distance radius with a smartphone, tablet or laptop are able to access it with the right password, obviously.