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Advanced In-Car Features to Watch Out For

April 8, 2014

Every once in a while, Continental Automotive invites a number of automotive reporters to its Brimley Development Center to test out the advanced safety technologies it has been working on. One of the lucky individuals sent to Brimley is a member of the Automobile Magazine staff, and he shared some technologies that are bound to change the auto industry in the future.

Many already know about adaptive cruise control, but many are unaware that a much improved version could be coming soon. Expected to be a fixture in self-driving cars is the adaptive autonomous emergency brake feature.

With the help of cameras and radar, this in-car tech will determine if the driver is focused on the road or if his or her attention is elsewhere. In the event the system detects that the driver is distracted and a collision is likely to happen, it immediately brakes the vehicle. If the system sees that the driver is focused on the road, it would only brake in the last possible moment to prevent a crash.

Continental plans to put a light strip on the door panel that will flash to get the driver’s attention and direct his or her focus forward.

Another in-car tech of the future is the infrared camera system. Just like with the aforementioned emergency brake system, it also checks if the driver is focused on the road ahead. What makes it unique is that it does more than detect if the driver is paying attention.

The infrared camera system is made capable of facial recognition and its settings could be personalized. This means that as soon as the individual sits down on the driver’s seat, his or her preferred temperature and chosen radio station can be activated. Because the vehicle is made to recognize its owner, the system does double duty as a safety feature as well: it can help prevent the vehicle from being stolen.

However, what makes this camera system most interesting is that its functions extend to the seat. If the person driving appears distracted, the system will alert that person through his or her seat with vibrations. The system will then try to keep the driver awake or at least focused with a massage function, which is similar to that found in certain models from Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar.

One in-car tech that consumers would surely find helpful during winter is the fast seat heating feature. Continental has developed seats made with synthetic leather and conductive polymer lining that warm up in no time. The seats heat up in as little as three seconds, saving the driver much time (not to mention fuel) and sparing him or her from the cold. The temperature reached after 10 minutes of driving can be had in less than minute.

Then there is the advanced trailer tow, a technology that is most likely to be found in production models sooner rather than later. This could be seen in cars as soon as the next model year if an automaker requests for it. What it does is extend the vehicle’s blind-spot detection zone to include the area beyond the trailer’s back. This will allow drivers to change lanes safely, among others.

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