Four Safety Advances Set to Change the Road

Tuesday, 04 February 2014

We've heard all about self-driving cars and intelligent parking spaces over the last few months, but there are plenty of other advances making their way onto our roads over the coming weeks. If you can't wait for the latest on-road tech, take a look at our roundup of the four most exciting future technologies.

1. Accident avoidance systems

Volvo's Pedestrian Detection technology, which combines a radar detector in the front grille with a camera in the rear-view mirror to detect pedestrians, has now been improved to detect more complex threats, and to automatically apply brakes at low speeds. This year, Honda has developed a system that can automatically brake at speeds of up to 37mph, and Toyota are planning their own advanced system for 2015.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated in 2011 that up to 1.2 million crashes could be avoided or mitigated annually if all vehicles had such systems, representing a big step in cutting both accidents and car insurance claims.

2. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication

Although cars already use sensors to map their environment, advances in networking are set to extend their reach even further by connecting cars to traffic grids, and even to one another, through a centralised network. This means sharing warnings, traffic news and dangers well in advance.

A 2010 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggested that vehicle-to-vehicle ('V2V') systems could potentially address as much as 79% of all vehicle crashes.

3. Wiper-less windscreens

Advancing technology isn't all about automation, though. The humble windscreen wiper has hardly changed since its conception, something that shows in every grubby smear on a rain-soaked drive.

However, McLaren chief designer Frank Stephenson told The Times that he's about to bring to the road a system the military have kept under wraps for years. The screen cleaning method is thought to involve high frequency waveforms running through the windscreen, preventing lightweight solids and liquids from settling on the screen.

4. Predictive cat's eyes

Last up is another classic ready to evolve. A patent unearthed by The Telegraph last week shows an ingenious design that uses fibre optic connections between cats eyes to beam the light from approaching car headlights further up the road to warn cars arriving in the other direction. The system could even be used to light upcoming roadside markings using our own car headlights.

Sources:
1. http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Honda-tech-stops-speeding-cars-from-hitting-pedestrians  
2. http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4603.pdf  
3. http://thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Tech/article1352794.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2013_12_14  
4. http://telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10590439/Patently-Great-the-cats-eye-system-that-warns-of-oncoming-vehicles.html  

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