How the Transparent car influenced the next generation of automotive safety technology
The Transparent car influenced automotive safety
As technology becomes more advanced, consumer products are getting more sophisticated, and this includes our cars.
With the ‘self-driving’ and hovering car not too far into the future, automakers are finding ways to incorporate safety features that rely on technology to keep us safe.
Makes you wonder how long it will be until we witness these amazing vehicles on our streets.
Not too long ago, the world was exposed to a different view on road safety.
At the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, TWR Automotive showcased their safety technologies with a see-through acrylic car. This particular company makes safety equipment for many recognizable brands such as Mercedes Benz, Toyota, GM, and VW.
In 2015, TWR was acquired by ZF Freidrichshafen which is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world.
With the acquisition of TWR, these ‘Active Safety Systems’ (which were showcased in the acrylic car at that 2013 auto show) are now becoming integrated into our cars today.
So what made this vehicle so safe?
LiDAR, Radar, and cameras are the future of collision detection
The acrylic car included sensors that use LiDAR or 3D laser scanning to detect objects 360 degrees around the vehicle. The sensors work by sending out incredibly fast laser light bursts that are then bounced back to the sensors which forms a 3D map around the car.
This technology is the future of collision detection because the sensor can tell you if there is a cyclist in your blind spot before you even have to shoulder check for it.
However, the LiDAR sensor was only one piece of the safety system. New cars already have cameras for backing up but TWR/ZF has a Tri-Cam System that is placed on the front of the car which allows them to detect motion perpendicular to the front of the car.
Finally there is a radar which is capable of detecting the speed and position of the vehicle in front of your car as well as side mounted radar sensors which can increase the field of vision around the car.
The radar and camera systems are also used for the automatic braking feature which can reduce the severity of collisions.
The system uses front facing cameras and radar sensors that can detect whether a pedestrian or other object is in danger of being hit. The sensors then sends this information to the brakes which slow the car down before you need to react.
With these three systems, cars can have 360 degrees of vision in all types of weather, and although these components are more pricey it is not hard to imagine that all automakers will eventually have these systems installed in all their cars.
‘Active’ seat belts for future cars
Another innovation in the acrylic car was the ‘active’ seatbelt system. The traditional three point seat belt system has been with us since 1958 and although they have saved many lives that does not mean there isn’t room for innovation.
These new seat belts are designed to work with other car safety systems to provide as much protection as possible during a collision.
The belts have sensors that help control slack and tension in the belt during unpredictable crashes so rather than the belt just passively keeping the passenger restrained these belts actually adjust themselves to better deal with the occupant’s energy leading to less bodily harm.
Artificial intelligence and the cars of the future
Before we have autonomous cars, we need very sophisticated computers that can discern different obstacles and levels of danger like a human can.
Although there will be some time before we have computers that are as capable as a human mind, there are some interesting forms of AI that are already being installed into our cars.
When it comes to air bags, the sensors and cameras on the car can discern the difference between an obstacle like a mailbox or a bridge abutment, and it can use that corresponding information to tell the car which airbags to deploy to maximize safety.
Since distracted driving has become a considerable safety problem, new AI can actually use images of your face to cross reference with faces of focused and distracted drivers to make assumptions about your level of awareness.
If the car recognizes that you have become distracted it can issue a warning to pay more attention or it can take actions to stop the car if it is deemed that you are being too unsafe to drive.
Although this technology was presented some years ago and there isn’t much news today about the possibility of driving transparent cars, we have seen some of this innovative technology in our vehicles today.
However, with our current technological advancements, we are probably not too far from seeing a fully transparent vehicle on the road. I’m just being hopeful.
How can I increase the safety of my vehicle?
Unfortunately, adding these amazing safety features to your current vehicle may not be possible, and if it is, best believe it will be expensive. The easiest, most cost effective and safest way to obtain modern safety features at a low price is by buying a newer used car.
Dealers like House of Cars carry 100s of newer vehicles that are much lower in price than if purchased at a franchise dealership.
They may not have transparent cars just yet, but if these safety features have piqued your interest, maybe you would like to drop by House of Cars and look into trading in your old car for something more modern with features that are designed to keep you safe on the roads.