You’re driving down a road that you’ve traveled a thousand times. Your car starts to fishtail because of icy road conditions, but you press on since it’s only a few more miles to your house. Suddenly, an oncoming car swerves your way and you can’t react in time to avoid it. Your prayers are answered as both cars somehow just miss each other.
All this happens so quickly that most drivers wouldn’t notice how technology helped avoid a tragic accident. Both cars were able to send collision avoidance signals to each other thanks to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. V2V enables a vehicle to detect the position and movement of other vehicles up to a quarter-mile away.
V2V technology, developed by General Motors, enables vehicles to anticipate and react to changing driving situations and then instantly warns drivers with chimes, visual icons, and seat vibrations. If the driver doesn’t respond to the alerts, the car can bring itself to a safe stop, avoiding a collision, according to GM.
But safety isn’t the only thing driving advances. From digital television to voice-activated GPS navigation systems, new automotive technology is allowing carmakers to offer more options to attract consumers. We’ll look at innovative devices that are making the road a smoother and more entertaining drive.
By installing a TracVision A7 mobile satellite TV system, car passengers can have the same digital television entertainment they enjoy in their homes. A mobile satellite system developed by KVH Industries, TracVision utilizes a 12-volt mobile receiver, a 5-inch screen, and an integrated GPS system. This car TV offers in-motion reception of up to 185 channels of DIRECTV service.
For passengers seeking high-speed Internet access, KVH offers TracNet 100, a mobile Internet system with MSN TV service that features MSN Web services such as MSN Messenger and MSN Mail. For more information on these offerings, go to www.tracvision. com and www.kvh.com/kvhinternet.
Easing the Fuel Burden
In the coming years, hybrid technology will play a significant role in improving the fuel efficiency of cars being offered to the public by bringing the benefits of battery-powered vehicles to conventional gas-powered cars and trucks. Hybrid engines are capable of driving at low speeds on an electric motor, reserving the gas engine for higher speeds. At the same time, this technology offers a solution to air pollution and oil dependence.
According to J.D. Power and Associates, U.S. consumers are expected to purchase approximately 350,000 hybrid vehicles annually by the year 2008. Trucks are predicted to account for about 64% of those sales.
No More Rollovers
Rollover crashes are one of the most significant safety problems for all classes of light vehicles, especially light trucks (pickups, sport utility vehicles, and vans), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Now, automakers are installing electronic stability control systems, designed to improve a vehicle’s handling and help avoid rollovers. Already available in many new car models, this technology helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle.
Here’s how it works: When the car begins to spin out of control, brakes installed specifically for anti-rollover are