Nifty stuff your next car might have
DETROIT — Cameras that check around the car for pedestrians. Radar that stops you from drifting out of your lane. An engine able to turn off automatically at traffic lights to conserve fuel.
Technology that saves lives and fuel is getting better and cheaper. That means it's no longer confined to luxury brands like Mercedes and Volvo. It's showing up in mainstream vehicles like the Nissan Rogue and Ford Fusion.
“What we see today as slightly elitist technology is changing very, very fast,” said Steven Lunn, chief operating officer for TRW Automotive, which supplies electronics and other parts to carmakers.
High-tech options can cost a few thousand dollars more, but those costs will come down as technology improves and automakers add them to more and more vehicles.
Here are some up-and-coming features that drivers can expect on their next cars:
• Collision warning with automatic braking:
New cars have radar and camera systems that warn you, with beeping sounds, of a possible front-end crash. Some stop the vehicle, or at least slow it enough to make a crash less severe. More sophisticated systems apply the brakes if a car veers off the road and heads toward a moving or fixed object. The systems are the outgrowth of adaptive cruise control, which helps keep cars a safe distance from vehicles in front of them.
Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti, Volvo and other brands offer automatic braking to avoid a collision; more automakers will follow soon. The systems seem to be working.
David Zuby, the chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said collision warning systems reduced crashes by 7 percent in a study of insurance claims for several thousand Mercedes with the technologies. Adding automatic braking doubled that benefit.
• Advanced cameras:
Automotive cameras are showing up on more cars ahead of a government requirement to install backup cameras, expected by 2015. But with cameras getting smaller and cheaper, automakers aren't just putting them on the back of the car. Honda has side cameras that come on automatically when a turn signal is employed, so drivers can spot obstacles while turning. Nissan's around-view monitor blends images from four cameras tucked in the mirrors and elsewhere around the car into a composite, bird's-eye view to help the driver back out of a parking spot.
According to Mobileye, an Israeli maker of automotive cameras, car companies are adding cameras that can read wrong-way road signs, detect large animals such as deer, and even note the colors of traffic lights. All that technology is coming by 2015. The next wave? Nissan and TRW are working on a system to automatically steer the car away from an obstacle. Expect that by 2016.
• Lane centering:
A camera can follow the road and gently nudge a car — using the brakes — to stay in the center of a lane. These systems — dubbed Lane Keep Assist — are available on most Mercedes-Benz vehicles as well as the Ford Fusion, Ford Explorer, Toyota Prius, Lexus GS and Lincoln MKZ. They aren't cheap. A combined lane-keeping and lane-centering system is a $1,200 option on the Fusion SE. Prius owners must spend $4,320 to get the system, packaged with cruise control and an entertainment system. Lane-centering is an outgrowth of lane-keeping systems, which appeared on commercial trucks a decade ago.
• Adaptive headlights:
Headlights don't have to be round any more to accommodate bulbs, so designers have more flexibility on where to put lights. And LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are letting automakers cram more brightness into smaller spaces. Audi, Mercedes, Acura, Mazda and others have so-called adaptive headlights that swivel in the direction the car is going to help drivers see around corners as they turn. And many cars now have high-beam lights that sense oncoming traffic and dim automatically. The Ford Fusion and other mainstream cars have them, and drivers can buy after-market kits to add automatic high beams to cars without them.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal
- Critics find hotels’ hidden fees to be inhospitable
- Facebook lures premium content from YouTube
- U.S. calls Fiat Chrysler recall record dismal
- 2Q mutual fund review: Momentum stalls
- H-D Advanced Manufacturing in Franklin Park buys aerospace components maker Firstmark
- June manufacturing growth shows expansion
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%
- Stocks end tumultuous week on down note
- Kraft shareholders approve merger with Heinz
- Alpha Natural Resources buys out European partner in Marcellus venture