Check Out How These Ingenious Auto Companies Are Trying To Save Your Life
When you bought your car, you probably didn’t give safety much thought. But embedded under all the bodywork and electronic gizmos are some rather incredible safety systems. These features have been years in the making. And they’re all part of the auto industry’s efforts to stop people from dying when they use their products. After all, if cars were any other product on the market, they’d all be recalled.
Safety technology has moved on leaps and bounds in the last few years. And it’s not just automakers themselves who are trying to work out ways to keep people safe. It’s many, many other companies too, all bristling with innovative ideas. Some of these developments are exciting. And some are just downright scary. Let’s dive right in.
Mobileye is a company you’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the future. Right now, the company is still lurking in the background. But, because it makes autonomous systems, you’re soon going to be hearing a lot more about it. The company was founded back in 1999. Since then, it’s been developing some rather clever computer vision technology. What does that mean? It means that its been training computers to not only see, but also recognize objects on the road. It might not sound like much, but getting computers to understand what they’re seeing has been a problem for the boffins for decades. Until recently, there just wasn’t enough data to train intelligent systems. But thanks to social media and millions of hours of car footage, machines are learning.
From a safety perspective, it’s a big deal. Once machines learn to interpret their environment, they’ll be able to make decisions on the road, just like humans. In fact, machines are almost there. Mobileye will be releasing a fully capable autonomous system in the future. But in the meantime, it’s still cranked out some pretty impressive products.
One of the systems it sells to car makers is its adaptive cruise control. This isn’t your average cruise control. It’s a version where the car speeds up and slows down on the highway, depending on the speed of the traffic in front. Essentially, it means that on trunk roads, drivers don’t have to do anything. It’s also invested a significant amount of money in its forward collision warning system. This system alerts the driver if there is going to be an impact. And if the driver takes no action, the system will force the car to brake anyway.
But perhaps the coolest of all Mobileye’s tech is it’s forward collision warning system for use in urban areas. This system makes use of more visual cues, like people who might be about to jump into the road for instance. And so it makes decisions based on more information than regular automatic braking systems.
The statistics on drink driving are pretty shocking. About 14 percent of all deaths that occur on Canada’s roads are caused by drunks behind the wheel. Finding drunk driving accidents answers is tough. But Alcolock wanted to know whether there was anything that they could build that could solve the problem. And they came up with a rather ingenious solution.
Their idea was to connect a breathalyzer directly to a vehicle’s immobilizer. If the breathalyzer said that the driver was over the legal limit, the immobilizer would be activated. The system itself is pretty sophisticated. It can be calibrated to prevent a driver from driving off for any given level of blood-alcohol between zero and the legal limit.
Right now Alcolock is targeting their new kit at companies. The idea is to help businesses prevent drunk colleagues from driving company vehicles while drunk. Obviously, the benefits for business are enormous. It means lower liability, less chance of an accident and a safer service. Alcolock even does an app that allows businesses to track vehicles should the immobilizer be overridden. The app allows companies to monitor colleagues and locates vehicles in the event of an emergency.
Recently Time magazine scared us all by asking whether the technology was coming to all cars soon.
Volvo was one of the first car makers to bring collision avoidance to market. Since 2006, it’s been using some pretty sophisticated tech in is cars. And since 2008, this tech has been standard across the entire range.
Volvo’s record on safety is pretty impressive. But, eight years later, it’s becoming even more so. Volvo has something that it calls its Vision 2020. It’s a promise that in four years time, nobody will be killed or seriously injured in their cars. It seems like an impossibility. But remember, autonomous technology isn’t progressing at a linear pace. Sure, right now, we don’t have working systems in products. But Volvo thinks that in a mere four years, we will. And that’s going to change the face of car safety forever.
What’s interesting about Volvo, however, is that they’re not just going down the autonomous route. They’re also looking at all sorts of different technologies to protect occupants physically. One cool feature is their blind spot information warning. Volvos have radar sensors that tell drivers whether there are any cars in their blind spot before they try to change lane.
The Swedish carmaker were also the inventors of the seat belt back in 1959. Since then, they’ve refined their designs considerably. Now their belts tighten within a thousandth of a second to keep occupants secure after an impact.
Thatcham is a relatively small company in the business of making autonomous braking systems. Like Mobileye, they’re a company working on technologies that can step in when drivers make errors. The ethos behind Thatcham is to make sure that accidents don’t happen in the first place. Their systems use a whole bunch of technology in order to operate. They use lidar, radar, and optical cameras to sense rapidly approaching vehicles. And the fusion of all three together is what makes their system robust. According to the company’s own figures, automatic braking reduces accidents by a whopping 38 percent.