February 17, 2012


Self-Driving Tech Veers into Mid-Range Cars: Sensor technologies once limited to luxury cars are increasingly available in the mass market. (DAVID TALBOT, 2/17/12, Technology Review)

Take the Ford Taurus and Fusion: in 2013, you can get a radar system that senses if you are about to rear-end another car. It flashes red warning LEDs in the windshield, and even preprimes the brakes, building up pressure so that when you do tap the brakes, you'll get full stopping power.

These kinds of high-tech features have been available for years in luxury cars, especially high-end Mercedes and Volvo models. Now they're going mainstream. "It's the democratization of advanced driver assistance technology into high-volume cars," says Mark Boyadjis, a senior analyst for automotive research at IHS iSuppli. "The biggest trend is going to be these technologies finally making their way outside of the luxury space."

Beyond crash warnings and the related technology of adaptive cruise-control--which keeps you locked at a fixed distance behind the car in front of you when you've got cruise control switched on--there are ultrasonic systems that allow the car to sense a parking space and park itself, and cameras that keep track of lane markings, keep an eye on blind spots, and warn if you are about to bump into something while backing up.

Posted by at February 17, 2012 4:30 PM

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