Driverless cars: THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) 1 Google's driverless cars
Since the internet giant announced its ambition to create a driverless car within the decade, its fleet of 10 converted Toyota Priuses have led the way in self-driving robotic vehicles. So far they have covered more than 300,000 miles on California's roads without incident.
2 The Mercedes-Benz laser-controlled car
Mercedes has fitted a radar system to the front, rear and all four corners of one of its S-Class saloons. Along with cameras concealed in the front and rear windscreens the car collects information and compares it to a 3D digital map created by Nokia.
3 Dynamic cruise control
Cruise control was one of the first great steps towards the self-driving car, but active cruise control takes the system to the next level. You set your desired speed and let the car do the rest. It uses forward-facing lasers to "see" traffic. When it detects a vehicle in front, it reduces your speed. When that car moves over, it resumes the original speed.
4 Collision mitigation systems
Imagine a "digital aunt" sitting in the back seat and keeping a constant watch on the road. If the car ahead brakes suddenly she will alert you. And that's what these systems do.
5 Parking sensors
Reversing until you feel your bumper pressing on the car behind helps you squeeze into the smallest spaces, but won't impress the neighbours. Sensors now beep and flash as you near an object.
6 Park assist
For domestic harmony alone, an intelligent parking system is worth its weight in gold. Ultrasonic sensors in the front bumpers scan each space to see whether it is big enough. When it finds one, you select reverse and let go of the steering wheel. The car does everything else.
7 GPS-controlled gear change
Using GPS to scan the topography ahead, predictive satellite-aided transmission monitors your driving behaviour and matches it to the road conditions. Essentially, it knows there is a big hill around the next bend and so selects the appropriate gear.
8 Attention warning system
Your car is watching you for signs of drowsiness. If your driving becomes erratic or your head movements are abrupt, the car will create an unpleasant high-pitched sound and flash a warning at you.
9 Lane departure control
Cameras monitor where your car is in its lane. When you veer near the white line it will make your steering wheel or your seat vibrate.
Lights that turn on and off on their own, point in the right direction and dip when another car is near.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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