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Five New Safety Features Your Car Will Have By 2020

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On: Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:55AM | By: Bill Wilson

Five New Safety Features Your Car Will Have By 2020

Imagine the following: you’ve been on the road since 6 a.m., and it’s now well past sunset. You’ve got three more hours to go before you’re home and the last thing you want to do is stop. So you drain the cup at your side of its last lukewarm drops of coffee and turn the radio up a little louder. You think you’re wide awake, but actually your eyelids are drooping. A moment later they shut… “ALERT! ALERT! DRIVER FALLING ASLEEP!”

The harsh mechanical voice jolts you from your nap just before you swerve into an 18-wheeler coming in the opposite direction. You jerk the wheel to the right and pull your car just off the interstate, the angry blast from the trucker’s horn clearing the cobwebs from your brain. Shaken but very much alive, you take several deep breaths to calm your heart. A few minutes later you pull off at the next exit and into a hotel parking lot, reminding yourself that it’s better to get home a day late than never at all.

This scene may be fiction for now, but by 2020 it could be all-too-common. Features that can detect when the driver is nodding off are already in place in some cars, but their capabilities are limited. Within a few years, however, they’ll be able to monitor bodily functions like respiration and heart rate, shouting out a warning before the driver falls asleep.

That’s just one example of how technology will make driving safer over the next few years. Other developments that will soon be standard features on most models include:

1. Infrared cameras that will see pedestrians, road barriers, and other hazards, even in total darkness, and will either alert the driver or stop the vehicle automatically before a collision occurs.

2. Smart cruising options that detect when a vehicle on cruise control is getting too close to the car in front of it and reduce its speed accordingly.

3. Car-to-car alert signals that will let drivers know when there’s trouble ahead, like another car about to run a stop sign or a stalled vehicle around the next corner.

4. Sensors that will see around blind spots and straight through fog-bound conditions, alerting the driver to approaching dangers or simply taking command of the vehicle to avoid a crash.

Looking further down the road, safety engineers are already talking about so-called “smart cars,” in which technology will literally take over the job of driving. This will leave little for the vehicle’s human occupants to do but relax or maybe catch up on a little work, like airplane passengers do now.

As with the star ships in science-fiction shows, however, these cars of the future will be equipped with manual overrides in case the system goes haywire. This just goes to show that, no matter how advanced computers get, nothing will ever replace good old human brainpower. That’s something we should all be grateful for.

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