Category Archives: Auto Technology

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The Best Safety Features On Today’s Roads

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These days, cars come with all kinds of techie bells and whistles. Some of these are genuinely useful and practical, whereas others are useless gimmicks. However, one thing we literally can’t get enough of is safety features. With airbags and emergency braking now becoming universal standards, manufacturers are pushing towards new frontiers of vehicle safety. Here are some of the recent technologies that are making our roads safer…

Blind Spot Detection

On the surface, blind spot detection is a pretty simple feature. It’s basically just a light on your wing mirror that blinks whenever a vehicle or other object is in your blind spot. In some cars, it also gives out an auditory alert so that you know not to change lanes just yet. As simple as the concept is, this is a real game changer for vehicle safety. Countless fatal car accidents are caused by improper lane changing. We’re sure you can think of at least one time where you’ve gone to change lanes, only to suddenly jerk back when you suddenly realize there was a car in your blind spot. This will also avoid any incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians somewhere outside your field of vision.

Rear-View Cameras

This is another remarkably simple feature, and comes as standard in many cars these days. If you’ve been driving with the help of a rear-view camera for long enough, it might be pretty mind-boggling to think about how we managed to get by before this tech hit the market. Seeing everything behind you on a screen is incredibly handy for getting out of tight parking spaces, and saves you from hitting anyone or anything as you reverse out of your driveway. The government recognizes the value of this, and in 2014, the NHTSA made rear-visibility tech mandatory for all new vehicles, effective May 2018.

Lane-Keeping Assist

Here’s another piece of tech designed to cut down on the amount of accidents caused by poor lane changing. When it’s activated, lane-keeping assist technology will stop you from drifting off into another driver’s lane. Cameras detect the lane markings in order to keep you in the center of yours. If the system detects that you’re straying too far to the left or the right markings, it will subtly adjust your steering and get your car back into the proper position.

Heads-Up Displays

One of the things that makes driving inherently dangerous is that you’re constantly having to glance away from the road, and look down at a phone or an infotainment system to check your map. This is not only irritating, but extremely dangerous as well. However, increasingly common heads-up displays are gradually phasing this problem out, by projecting navigation information onto the windshield, right in front of your eyes. With this tech in place, you’ll never have take your eyes off the road even for a fraction of a second. This may sound trivial, but in high-risk situations, a moment is all it takes to turn a drive into a potentially fatal catastrophe!

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What Do Self-Driving Trucks Mean For The Freight Industry?

A couple of decades ago, self-driving vehicles were the stuff of science fiction; the kind of thing that’s only seen in over-the top, action-packed films. However, today, they’re getting very close to becoming a reality. While most companies experimenting with this technology are focussing on consumer passenger vehicles, one firm, Daimler, has begun testing for the first-driving semi-truck. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what this means for the company, and the trucking industry as a whole.

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Although most of the news we see has been focussing on Google’s self-driving project, Daimler has been making considerable strides forward, and just might beat Google to their place in the market. Perfecting the technology for a self-driving freight truck is a marginally simpler affair, as long-haul trucks spend the majority of their time on long stretches of highway and freeway. As a result, Google’s struggling towards its target to release their self-driving vehicles by the year 2020, while Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration truck has already been officially licensed to operate on public highways in Nevada, USA.

The initial reaction from many people who work in the long-haul and truck servicing industries has been one of panic. With self-driving trucks that are becoming so sophisticated so quickly, many in these sectors assume that their jobs are at risk. While it’s uncertain what this tech will mean for these kinds of jobs, it’s clear that self-driving trucks are far too valuable to turn back on themselves. In the US, heavy trucks represent around 20% of total transportation fuel, but self-driving trucks may be capable of reducing fuel bills by 4-7%. With most long-haul trucks travelling hundreds of thousands of miles through their useful life, this translates into thousands of dollars in savings for the industry every year! Regardless of what it means for workers, the money is simply too much to turn away from.

Daimler, in partnership with Peloton Technology, is leading the way in developing truck platoons that can further reduce the massive cost of fuel, and haul more freight at a time than was ever possible before. While a whole convoy of driverless trucks might sound pretty over the top, it’s technically very feasible. There would be a lead truck, with a single driver in the cab, whose job it would be to lead a convoy of twelve or so trucks along their route. Peloton’s platooning technology allows two or more trucks to connect through a cloud infrastructure, and uses safety features such as active braking, which is already something found in a range of consumer vehicles on the road. While the lead driver would have control over all the trucks in this model, drivers would still be needed to negotiate highway exits, tricky urban streets, and backing up into loading bays. While this is expected to help with the western world’s truck driver shortage, it’s still unclear if any working truckers will lose their jobs to driverless tech.

Self-driving cars still have a long way to go before they become a common sight on our roads, but self-driving trucks are speeding on towards mass production.

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Tech Is Going To Change Driving In Ways You Can’t Imagine

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You might think you understand how new technology is going to change driving, but you don’t. You may believe that you have gotten to grips with the latest tech and what it will mean when it hits the market, you haven’t. You have no idea how different the roads and the car industry is going to look a few years from now. So sit back as we take you on a road trip to the future.

Will I Still Need Car Insurance?

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You’re not the only one wondering whether car insurance will still be necessary five or ten years from now. After all, you can barely get through one day without someone suggesting that cars are going to drive themselves. Well, let’s clear a few things up right now. First, even car insurers haven’t begun to figure out how autonomous cars are going to fit into the future plans. You won’t find it mentioned anywhere on a site like moneyexpert.com and there’s a good reason for that. It’s not on the horizon…yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t be and there are certainly impressive advances in place. For instance, this year there will be one hundred thousand plus self-driving cars on the road. But it’s important to know what self-driving means. It doesn’t mean that these cars will be driving on highways at full speed. Nor does it mean that these cars are completely free to drive themselves. The current ability of self-driving cars is to travel at low speeds and essentially course correct. You can think of it as the next logical step for cruise control.

So, where does car insurance fit in? Well, people are starting to think about who’s going to be to blame if a car crashes and no one is driving it. Or, more likely, who’s going to pay up. When cars are fully autonomous, you can bet these questions are going to be debated. Right now, though, we’re still at least two decades away from most cars being able to drive themselves. Let alone being fully autonomous.

What About Fuel?

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Whatever happened to the hybrid car? As you can see on time.com, the hybrid market has hit a slump. It’s still around but not quite as popular as advocates of the tech had hoped. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the hybrid car is no longer consider to be the future fuel of vehicles. For one thing, it’s a band aid for a gaping wound. A hybrid car is more environmentally toxic than anyone would care to admit and still includes a petrol engine. So, it’s hard to champion it as the savior of the car industry when drivers want to be eco-friendly. This brings the question as to what cars will be powered by in ten years.

Well, we know what they won’t be powered by, and that’s diesel. Governments are planning to tax diesel cars to high heaven and ensure that they are as unattractive to buyers as physically possible. Some places like London are even considering an all out ban. You can read more about that on newstatesman.com.

As for the real savior of the future? That could be the electric car. It’s quickly making a comeback which is ironic considering the top speeds of the original electric cars. Tesla now have an electric car in development that is going to rival the top supercars, and that’s an impressive evolution of this tech.

But there are other possibilities in the work too. For instance, some people are still in favor of putting development into hydrogen-fueled cars. There’s been quite a lot of interest by tech innovators in Britain. The problem is that while people know roughly what a hybrid is and can work out the electric car, they don’t know much about hydrogen power at all. That makes it difficult to market which is why this possibility hasn’t seen much progress.

How About The Roads?

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There should definitely be less congestion thanks to the new tech that councils and governments are putting in place on the roads. Roads are getting smarter, and within five years we’ll see our first roads that can actually change traffic speed based on the possibility of congestion. Nope, we’re not talking about preparing for congestion further down the road. This clever tech would record the number of cars, the speeds and figure out the chance of a traffic jam. It would then change speed limits to match needs. It’s being tested right now and should lead to some very exciting possibilities in the future.

Did you see any of these changes coming? Or is the future of driving a whole new world that you’re not yet prepared for?