We’re constantly being told that the future lies in cars that are capable of driving themselves. However, whilst these are still likely to be some way off, the technologies that make them work are already beginning to appear in everyday models.
Already you can buy cars that are able to park themselves and which will prevent low-speed collisions by automatically braking when you get too close to the car in front. There are systems which prevent you driving too close as well. That’s not all, lane departure systems warn you if your attention lapses and the car is wandering over the white line, and sophisticated sensors will let you know if there’s a vehicle alongside in your blind spot. All of these things are aimed at improving safety by eliminating human error.
Seeing the Signs
Taking things further still, the latest technology developed by Ford allows the car to read speed limit signs. Called Intelligent Speed Limiter, it uses a windscreen-mounted camera to scan the road ahead for signs. This is linked to the car’s cruise control system so that it can reduce the amount of fuel being fed to the engine to slow the car down to the limit.
To overcome one of the main criticisms of speed limiters – that they may prevent you from speeding up when you really need to – there is a safety override which will allow the driver to suspend the system by pressing the accelerator hard. This ensures they’ll be able to complete an overtake safely or avoid a collision by accelerating out of danger. There will also be the option of setting the system to allow the limit to be exceeded by up to 5mph in order to keep up with traffic flows and avoid causing frustration among other drivers.
For those ready to sample this technology for themselves when looking for car leasing Leicester specialist totalmotion.co.uk says that it will be available on the latest Ford S-Max model due to go on sale in August.
It’s currently likely to be restricted to Europe where speed limit signs are more standardised than in countries like the US.
The Next Step
Though this technology may seem innovative, Ford sees it as only a step on the way to more intelligent cars. In the future changes to speed limits could be beamed to vehicles automatically, eliminating the need for roadside signs. This would also mean that limits could be made to adapt to traffic or weather conditions, slowing cars down at peak times or in fog for example.
Ultimately cars would be able to communicate with each other. This would allow a car to warn those behind that it was slowing down, helping to avoid accidents and ensure that traffic flows more smoothly.
Other technologies in the pipeline include cars that can monitor the driver’s health, taking over control in the event that it detects the driver is ill or starting to fall asleep.