The world doesn't need to wait for full autonomous technology to bring about a drastic improvement in safety on the roads. Several new systems are available now which bring forward the benefits without making the leap to entirely driverless cars.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
The main version of this new technology is known as Autonomous Emergency Braking, or AEB. Although each car company has their own branded name for the technology, it is slowly becoming a standard feature across manufacturers from Ford to Mercedes.
It uses the same laser and radar sensor technologies as self-driving cars to monitor the road ahead for any obstructions and to sound a warning if the system detects an imminent collision (usually with a car in front). If the driver doesn't take action, the AEB system will bring the car to a smooth but speedy halt, avoiding the collision along with the damage and injury it may cause. According to estimates, this system could prevent up to a quarter of all road accidents, with all the savings in injuries and fatalities you'd expect.
What's more, these rear-end crashes are among the most expensive for insurance companies to deal with, thanks to whiplash injuries and the extensive bodywork damage that often results. That could bring insurance costs down dramatically if AEB becomes widespread, and especially if the system is made fully autonomous by removing the warning stage (a current weak point thanks to the delay it introduces, but one which is still necessary to chime with public opinion and legal issues).
Other Automatic Safety Systems
But AEB isn't the only automatic safety system which is already available or under advanced development. Others include:
• Advanced AEB -- A fine-tuned version of AEB collision prevention which is also able to detect and avoid pedestrians and cyclists.
• Lane Keep Assist (LKA) -- Helps improve highway safety by keeping your car in its correct lane if it detects you're straying outside the road markings.
• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) -- Standard cruise control keeps your vehicle at a constant, comfortable speed on the highway, but ACC adds automatic adjustment of your rate to keep you at a safe distance behind the car in front.
• Reverse AEB -- Sounds a warning if you're about to reverse into a collision, and brakes if you take no action. That will help to reduce accidents caused by backing into blind spots.
• Autonomous Emergency Steering (AES) -- A highly advanced system which is still under development. Not only will AES detect imminent collisions to the front of your car, but it will also track the movements of other vehicles and predict far more complex collision paths, automatically steering to avoid them.
Most experts fully expect driverless cars to dominate the future, and this will provide significant improvements in safety. However, the transition may take longer than anticipated due to unexpected development issues. The benefits for us today are that this new generation of autonomous technology has brought an added level of safety to our vehicles, saving lives and easing the public acceptance of self-driving technology. Remember, you can add to the safety of your vehicle by keeping it clean at Clean Machine Car Wash.