The future is here...and it's at the Auto Show
Mercedes-Benz Driving Simulator
Ford Active Park Assist
GM OnStar 4G LTE
Toyota Integrated Safety Management Concept
Infiniti Predictive Forward Collision Warning
It used to be that “high-tech” was the future of the automobile, but no longer—instead, it’s here and now. But the wide array of new safety and connectivity features can sometimes be hard to navigate, and at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, you can visit the AutoConnect display to get a closer look at seven automakers and what they’re offering.
The self-driving car is actually a combination of many systems, most of which have been on vehicles for some time. The new S-Class can drive and steer itself for short periods, using such technologies as adaptive cruise control, lane departure systems, blind spot monitoring, and collision avoidance braking. This simulator’s mirrors are miniature screens to further give the illusion of being on the road.
Self-parking cars have been around for a while, but the systems today are a vast improvement over the earlier ones. Ford’s parallel parking system first uses sensors to determine if a spot is long enough. The driver has to use the throttle and brake, and shift the transmission, but the car’s electric power steering system takes over and parks without the driver’s hands on the wheel. The display also highlights the Ford C-Max Energi’s plug-in hybrid technology.
This summer, GM will offer OnStar with upgraded 4G LTE telematics, which will provide the opportunity to connect up to seven devices to WiFi in the vehicle with available data plans. Depending on the vehicle, drivers will be able to download apps directly into the vehicle, without going through their phones, and OnStar will be able to monitor the car’s “health” and send an email if anything needs attention. GM says the connection will be faster and more reliable than a phone, and provide more functionality.
The company puts several safety technologies into its Toyota and Lexus vehicles, including those that warn if a vehicle is alongside, if there’s a chance of hitting a car or pedestrian in front, if the driver is wandering out of the lane, and to assist if the road crown or wind gusts are veering the car sideways. As with other manufacturers, Toyota is working to bundle them into systems that will help to prevent crashes, or protect occupants or assist with rescue if a collision does occur. Eventually, they’ll be used in autonomous systems as well.
The name refers to a suite of technologies the company now makes available on several models. Adaptive front lighting indicates headlights that can turn in the direction of the wheels to better illuminate corners, while high beam control automatically dims these lights in the face of oncoming traffic, and then turns them back on again when the road is clear.
As with several other systems, Subaru’s EyeSight can detect pedestrians and bicycles ahead, or watch the lane markings, and take action if the driver doesn’t stop in time or starts to drift out of the lane. What’s different is that it uses a stereo camera, mounted on the windshield above the rearview mirror, to look ahead, capture images, and then compare the twin stereo pictures to determine depth and distance. It’s quite a sophisticated system for a moderately-priced manufacturer.
This recently won a Best New Technology award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Instead of just monitoring the car ahead, and responding if it slows or stops and the driver doesn’t react, this new system uses radar that “looks” under the vehicle ahead, to the one in front of it, and reacts to that car. (Yes, the real thing is invisible; the green lights were for illustration.) This could potentially avoid chain-reaction collisions, and marks yet another step on the technology path we’re on.