There are three main types of safety features with in car tech:
- 1. Passive Information Systems
These could include sat nav, night vision and blind spot detection.
With night vision, your car uses an infrared camera to help identify objects in front of you that are beyond the range of your headlights, and display this on a screen. Blind spot detection sounds or flashes an alert if you’re indicating to change lanes and the car identifies something in your blind spot.
It’s worth noting that some of these systems can be bought as an add-on to your existing car, if you like the idea but aren’t in the market for a new car just yet.
- 2. Semi-autonomous Driver Assistance
This aids the driver by taking some control of the car’s brakes or steering – although they can be overridden by the driver at any time.
Parking assist is an example. Here, you find a suitable space, choose reverse and activate the system. It uses sensors on the side of the car to measure the space. If it’s large enough, the car will automatically steer itself into the slot with you controlling the speed and braking.
Another is emergency brake assist. By interpreting the speed and force with which you push the brake pedal, the system detects if you’re trying to do an emergency stop. If the brake pedal isn’t fully applied, the system overrides and puts on the brakes hard until the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) takes over to stop the wheels locking up.
- 3. Autonomous Vehicle Control and Safety Systems
These are features which take control of the car to avoid or minimise the seriousness of an accident, and can’t be overridden by the driver.
They include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and other crash avoidance systems. The system might use laser technology or radar to detect a potential crash, and either put on the brakes or automatically steer the car out of harm’s way.
From 1 November 2015 AEB is a legal requirement for heavy vehicles in Europe, and a European car body called Euro NCAP suggests that if all cars feature the system, it will reduce accidents by up to 27 percent and save up to 8,000 lives per year. Standard-fit AEB is currently available on 11 per cent of new cars, according to Thatcham Research so if you’re in the market for a new car, have a look at the models with this included.