New technology in cars seems to be growing at an exponential rate with every new model appearing in the Australian marketplace. Unfortunately, most of these technologies are gimmicks – they provide little or no benefit to the driver, the surrounding drivers or the environment. A great example of this technology is cars equipped with “Active Headlights”. These type of headlights swivel up to (approximately) 15% in both directions (which is controlled by the amount of steering lock that is applied by the driver) to allow the car to peek around corners during night driving. The objective is to improve driver visibility and therefore improve safety.
The car manufacturers that do offer this technology more often than not make it available as an option – and a very costly option at that. Now that I have recently bought my car with this feature and have first-hand experience, I can confidently say that this is a gimmick. Yes, drivers will see some benefit (the key word here being “some”) if they drive around the Great Ocean Road during the nocturnal hours, where there are lots of twists and turns in the road that requires sizeable steering inputs. The turning light MAY allow you to catch a glimpse of a kangaroo sitting by the side of the road a little sooner, which MAY improve the drivers chances of avoiding it. The question you would ask however is, how many drivers do drive down the Great Ocean Road (and other similar roads) and how often? I would say not too many (and not too frequently). In the city and suburbs, where 90% of the Australian population resides and where street lights are strewn all over, there is very little noticeable difference.
Thankfully, there will be some new technologies in the very new future that will provide tangible and very useful benefits to all.
One of these new technologies is a new in-vehicle system developed by Clemson University in South Carolina US. It has been labelled as a “true connected vehicle ecosystem”. The system provides the following features:
- Automatically notify the relevant authorities that the car has been involved in a car crash
- Gather information about road usage (traffic congestion, car accidents, road works etc.) and provide drivers with alternative routes to avoid these roads
- For owners of electric vehicles, warn drivers when their car doesn’t have enough charge for a particular trip and to offer ideas to conserve energy i.e. turn off the air-conditioner, rear seat TV/DVD etc.
CarGuru’s one major hate, probably shared with 99.9% of drivers is being stuck in traffic. The ability to avoid traffic that will allow you to get to your destination faster and in a relaxed state would be fantastic. The one potential issue that I foresee with this technology is the cars with this technology would be directing the drivers to the same alternative route, which would defeat the purpose of having this technology in the first place. Hopefully, this is something that has been catered for…
Automatic notification of cars involved in an accident would provide the quickest response time for authorities to get to the scene of the accident. There is no doubting that this would benefit everyone if they ever find themselves in this unfortunate predicament. This is great technology that should be standard on all cars.
I hope that these types of technologies continue to materialise as they do provide tangible and “real” benefits to the motorist.