If you haven’t driven a newer vehicle recently, you may be surprised on some of the new technologies available. Besides the front and passenger air bags, vehicles are now coming with side impact air bags as well. Some of the other safety features now include traction control and stability control, in addition to the standard anti-lock braking system. But some of the new features being tested may add to our safety and economy when driving a car.
Here is a list of four possible features that may be coming soon:
Infiniti Eco Pedal
We’ve long known that driving behavior has a significant impact on fuel economy, which is why Infiniti’s new Eco Pedal makes so much sense. When switched on with a console-mounted dial, this pedal gently resists quick or long dabs of the throttle pedal, encouraging more prudent acceleration. The driver can easily override the feedback, but it’s a constant and effective reminder of good hypermiling techniques, and as a bonus it helps erratic drivers smooth their driving style. Infiniti says that the pedal increases real-world fuel economy by between 5 and 10 percent.
Emergency Steer Assist
A step in the apparent march toward autonomous cars is a system called Emergency Steer Assist (ESA). Developed by Continental, ESA helps a driver avoid a possible impact by varying the power-steering-assist level. Here’s how it works: When ESA determines (via radar sensors) that a crash is imminent and you need to swerve to avoid an impact, it alters the steering effort to make it hard to turn the wheel right, for example, but easy to turn it left. The system then works with stability control to further manage the aftereffects of the swerve. A
Optima Sports Camber Tire
Tire technology typically evolves slowly, which makes the Camber Tire from Optima Sports noteworthy. The Camber Tire’s inner sidewall is shorter than the outboard, which tilts the top of the tire inward, toward the car. This increases the tire’s negative camber, an alignment specification that car racers use to enhance grip while cornering. On the highway, however, too much negative camber puts only the inner portion of the tread in contact with the road, resulting in uneven wear and dicey straight-line stability. The Camber Tire maintains its tilt while keeping the tread flat on the tarmac.
Continental Intelligent Tire System
Continental’s latest tire sensor goes way beyond simply gauging pressure. It also measures the tire’s temperature, load and acceleration forces—information that can be put to a variety of uses. For example, based on the data, the car’s computer can tell the driver when the tires are worn out or suggest a higher tire pressure to compensate for extreme cornering behavior or high loads.
That last one, Continental Intelligent Tire System, seems like it would be more trouble than it’s worth. A driver who cannot tell that his or her tires are worn should stay home. IMHO.
What do you think of these new technologies?