As a rule I like to be in control of a car completely while I’m driving, to the point where I often don’t even use cruise control. While some of that is wanting to experience the thrill of driving completely, there is a small part in the back of my mind that doesn’t trust leaving something so potentially urgent in control of a machine.
When it comes to features like self-parking cars, or even self-driving cars, then, I tend to steer clear.
However, looking at it practically, automated cars are the wave of the future, and will in some measure become commonplace in all models. Technicians at Volvo are working to make sure that inevitability isn’t one driven entirely by consumer curiosity and vanity, but rather filling basic needs to enhance driving for everyone.
Specifically, they are trying to perfect an automated braking system in commercial trucks that would allow them to avoid major collisions should the driver be dozing off at the wheel, or otherwise unable to properly react in time. Unlike some other “innovations” in the field like self-parking cars, this design appears to be frighteningly effective.
The truck in that video is moving at a steady pace of 40 MPH, and is about to hit two vehicles (one completely stopped, and the other moving much slower). In both cases though the automated braking system kicks in completely outside of the influence of the driver,once its realized the driver is not reacting, and brings the truck to a stop right before it collides with the vehicle.
What’s really impressive, yet somewhat scary, is the reaction time of this system. Obviously not wanting to “jump the gun” so to speak on stopping a vehicle automatically, the system waits until the last possible moment to initiate braking, and as such stops the truck mere inches away from danger, making the results look like something that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood driving sequence.
While no specific plans regarding the implementation of this system in future vehicles are present as of yet, with Europe requiring similar systems to be mandatory by 2015, you can expect to hear more about this soon from Volvo and more manufacturers.
It might be scary to essentially trust your life in the hands of a system, but if they can really get it to perform as well in real road environments as they do in these situations, this could be the start of a safer, though still almost too close for comfort, future
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