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Technologies that Help Drivers Become More Aware of Their Surroundings

Bats fly in the pitch black but rarely, if ever, hit a tree or a wall. Some types of bats can even catch insects while flying in the dark. To do this, bats use sonar, analyzing how the signals...

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2014/03/24

Like a bat flying safely in the dark
Bats fly in the pitch black but rarely, if ever, hit a tree or a wall. Some types of bats can even catch insects while flying in the dark. To do this, bats use sonar, analyzing how the signals bounce off other objects to give them an accurate grasp on distances and locations.

The latest technology in cars uses similar techniques to analyze certain environments and situations. A driver must use his or her eyes and ears to check his surroundings, but the car itself is now able to employ cameras, sonar and radar to help a driver “see” its surroundings.
Constantly monitoring the distance from other cars
Why would cars do this? After all, a car isn’t a bat. But this technology was designed with the hope that it can significantly reduce the number of accidents that might occur. Under certain circumstances, the technology calculates whether there is a risk of a collision with an object detected around the vehicle, then can respond, helping to prevent an accident.

To understand how the technology is able to check the vehicle’s surroundings, let’s look at an example of a safety technology. Similar to how a bat can avoid colliding with something even in pitch darkness, the Forward Emergency Braking technology can help drivers avoid certain dangers.The Forward Emergency Braking system is constantly monitoring the distance between the vehicle and the one in front of it. This means that if for some reason the distance to the other car suddenly decreases, the system will determine that there is a risk of collision and will sound an audible alert.
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Bats use sonar and analyze the echoes that are returned to measure the distance to obstacles and food. In a similar way, certain technologies use sensors to help drivers be more aware of their surroundings.
At this stage, the driver needs to notice this warning and then take action to avoid a collision.

But if this doesn’t happen and the system judges that the car is still in danger of colliding with something, it will automatically engage the brakes, helping avoid a collision. If a collision is unavoidable, the speed of the vehicle will have been decreased helping to mitigate damage caused by the collision.

The Forward Emergency Braking system is just one of the many technologies available to help drivers stay aware of their surroundings. Additionally, there is also Blind Spot Warning (BSW), which can detect another car diagonally behind, an area that may be difficult for a driver to see. There is also Lane Departure Warning (LDW), which alerts a driver when they are about to stray from their lane. There is even technology that can read road signs and warn a driver if they are trying to enter a one-way street traveling the wrong direction.
Enhanced safety features
As technology that helps drivers stay aware of their surroundings has evolved, it has become able to help a driver understand not only about the car in front of him or her, but even the behavior of the vehicle two cars ahead. How is this possible? When a car is traveling on a highway or a place where multiple cars are moving in a row, the sensor at the front of the car can detect the distance to and also the relative speed of the vehicle two cars ahead. The technology is no longer just watching directly in front; it is now looking even further ahead.

For example, if the driver two cars ahead of yours suddenly braked, the technology in the car can detect this and tell the driver so he or she can perform the next appropriate action.

The technology is called Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW). It examines the movement of the car traveling two vehicles ahead and if it determines that the driver should brake, it will alert him or her both visually and by a warning sound. By warning the driver to brake early on, it can help prevent a pileup.

In this way, technology that monitors the surroundings can work to reduce accidents or the damage caused by unavoidable collisions. Just like bats in the dark, the latest car technologies are helping drivers keep an eye on certain vehicle surroundings, helping to reduce potential accidents.