latest innovations in car safety (page 15-18)

Download Latest Innovations in Car Safety (Page 15-18)

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1. An interesting fact about the innovations in car safety that will be discussed in this chapter is that all of them were invented as vehicle manufacturers set out to create the first autonomous car. 15 8. The Latest Innovations in Car Safety The dream of creating a self-drive car has now been realised and there are many prototypes out there that are being put through their final paces. It wont be long before they become commercially available. The most famous of these are probably the Google Driverless Cars which have clocked over 1.1 million km accident-free.* Google has ten of these cars, namely six Toyota Priuses, an Audi TT, and three Lexus RX450h vehicles - all of them operated by Googles Chauffeur software. Google estimates that these autonomous vehicles will be made available to the general public somewhere between 2017 and 2020. * Please see "Interesting Facts about Autonomous Cars" at the end of this section. 2. 16 8.1 Intelligent Parking Assist System (IPAS) Several brands of passenger vehicles and SUVs are now available with an inbuilt Intelligent Parking Assist System (IPAS), also known as an Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS), and, as these names suggest, this system assists drivers in parking their vehicle. To be more specific, it was designed to make reverse parallel parking a hassle-free experience. For those of us who struggle to parallel park, this technology may sound like a much- needed blessing, although it should be noted that self-parking cars are not completely autonomous. The driver is still required to regulate the vehicles speed using the brake pedal. But how does this technology work? With the help of an on-board computer, which uses cameras built into the front and rear of the car, and sensors located at similar locations that can detect the proximity of nearby vehicles, a car can steer itself into a parking space with little input from the user. In essence, the central processor of the on-board computer calculates the optimum steering angles using the information it receives from the cameras and sensors and then communicates this information to the Electric Power Steering System. And so the vehicle is guided into the parking space. Sounds complicated? Well, it is. The Toyota Motor Corporation, which first introduced this parking system in 2004 when it launched its hybrid Prius models in Japan, had to go back to the drawing board several times before it was perfected in 2006. When this parking system was finally launched in the USA, it received a lot of media attention and was even featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It also received similar coverage all over the world. Evidentially, this was a story of great public interest, which makes you wonder: Is the inability to parallel park a worldwide endemic? 3. 17 8.2 Lane Departure Warning System (LDW) & Lane Keeping System (LKS) There are two main types of systems that are designed to take action when a vehicle begins to move out of its lane: Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDW) warn the driver if the vehicle is leaving its lane. These warnings can be visual, audible, and/or vibration warnings. Lane Keeping Systems (LKS), like LDW systems, warn the driver if the vehicle is moving out of its lane and, if no action is taken, automatically takes steps to ensure that the vehicle stays in its lane. Both systems use either video sensors (mounted behind the windshield and typically integrated beside the rear mirror), laser sensors (mounted on the front of the vehicle) or infrared sensors (mounted either behind the windshield or under the vehicle). As soon as these sensors detect that a vehicle is moving out of its lane, a warning mechanism is triggered. Lane Keeping Systems (LKS) use Stability Control Systems (SCS) to make the necessary corrections and so ensure that the vehicle stays in its lane. These electronic control systems use a vehicles brakes to make corrections and to steer the vehicle back to where it should be. This can be achieved because this computerised technology is able to apply braking pressure to each wheel individually. It would, for instance, apply pressure to the brakes of the outer front wheel to counter an over-steering action or apply pressure to the brakes of the inner rear wheel to counter an under-steering action. A Land Departure Warning System (LDW) and a Lane Keeping System (LKS) are great safety features for a car to have, but just because a car has them it doesnt mean that the driver can afford to pay less attention while driving. 4. 18 8.3 Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) uses radar, lasers and optical sensors to identify other vehicles and pedestrians and then automatically applies the brakes if the driver does not respond in time. According to Thatcham, a world class motor vehicle research centre in the UK: AEB reduces the occurrence of low speed accidents by 20% These systems are most effective at lower speeds, where more than 75% of accidents occur AEB is also effective in mitigating the devastating effects of higher speed crashes Autonomous Emergency Breaking technology is said to be one of the most important developments in vehicle safety and its impact is comparable to that of the seatbelt or airbag. According to Thatcham, 90% of crashes are due to human error and distraction and that is why safety technologies like AEB are not only important, but extremely necessary. One could argue that this statistic not only warrants the implementation of safety technologies, but should also warrant a law that makes it compulsory for all drivers to take defensive driving courses. Again, it needs to be emphasised that even if your vehicle is equipped with all these safety technologies, you cant afford to let your guard down. At the end of the day, it needs to be remembered that technologies like this arent failsafe. Interesting Facts about Autonomous Cars Since the 1920s, various car manufacturers have been trying to build autonomous cars. The first autonomous car was a 1986 VaMoRs Mercedes van. It could only drive in a straight line though. * Two Google Driverless Cars did have accidents in 2010 and 2011. Both incidences happened while the cars were in manual mode though and, therefore, the accidents were ascribed to human error.


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