Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cars In The Future Will Think And Change Shape

Over one million people worldwide die in motor vehicle accidents every year. Studies have found that more than 90% of all motor vehicle accidents involve some degree of human error.

So, we should all just face the hard cold facts. Many of us just can't drive safely. Often, some of us let our emotions overcome reason.

Stress, road rage, speeding, alcohol, cell phones, screaming children, and a lack of proper driving directions, all distract our attention, reduce our driving performance and as a result increase our potential accident risk.

Since in this fast paced world we elect not to change our behavior, the automotive industry is going to provide a car in the future designed to give us instant safety protection, and provide operator help.

Consider that a car that protects its passengers by strengthening the inside of its frame in the instant before a collision has recently been crash-tested by European engineers. The system uses radar and cameras to anticipate an impact on the side of a car just a fraction of a second before impact actually occurs.

In that instant before impact, a metal bar slides into place to create a temporary brace that makes the cars inside frame significantly stronger. The bar bridges a gap between the front door and another bar running across the car and anchored on the chassis. So, the internal shape of the car instantly changes to protect occupants from the collisions impact.

The fact is that automobile prediction systems have become possible due to improvements in sensors and computing. Indeed, many car manufacturers are already testing and designing head lights that work automatically based on driving visibility, and brakes that act on their own to begin to slow a car based on upcoming traffic.

Eventually, the car of the future will warn us about the imminent danger of an oncoming vehicle or a potential collision while backing a car up. It could provide a calm reassuring voice during a difficult commute. It could even warn us of an upcoming change in the contour of the road and alert us that the speed limit is being exceeded.

Of course, the car of the future may provide other things for us to ponder as well. Consider, some of the research funded by the automobile industry being done by Car Lab at Stanford University as well as research at software giant, Microsoft, Corporation.

Both are involved in research focused on vehicle accumulation of information on driver behavior. In the future, our car will keep a record of where we drive, how fast we go, where we stop to eat and shop and many other aspects of our consumer and driving preferences.

So, the car of the future could be designed to tell our insurance company how often we were speeding, how we drive in traffic, and how many times we park illegally. The amount of our future insurance premiums may well rely on our car's report on our own driving behavior.

In addition, consider that as we pass Walmart, our car's dashboard voice may tell us all the items that the store has on sale today. It may even tell us about the deal we can get on a Latte at a nearby Starbucks or to consider going left at the next intersection for breakfast at Dennys.

The car of the future will be much safer, but from a privacy standpoint, we may need to consider taking a cab.

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