6 in-car technologies you need to know
1. Vehicle Tracking Software
Car theft is a problem plaguing many countries worldwide. With vehicle tracking software, you are able to pinpoint exactly where your car is via a mobile app. Which means if your car is stolen, you can find out where it is and inform the police.
This technology is bundled into the vehicle’s assistance and security systems, such as BMW’s ConnectedDrive. Some of the other features include vehicle diagnostics, BMW concierge (where a person in the call centre will answer your queries!), post crash notification to summon rescue services, and even remote locking to trap the car thief inside. They may also be used by law enforcement to pinpoint the exact location of a vehicle that has been stolen. What was ironic however, was that the article mentioned that hackers tested the security of BMW’s ConnectedDrive web portal and found vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to hack the system. Yikes !
You may have heard of this term, but what exactly is it? How is it different from the conventional cruise control (which was invented way back in 1948) ?
Adaptive cruise control (also known as ACC) is an intelligent form of cruise control that slows down and speeds up your car automatically to keep pace with the car in front of you. You can set the maximum speed your vehicle should travel at, and a radar sensor mounted on your car watches for traffic ahead, locks on to the car in front of you, and tells your car to stay 2, 3, or 4 seconds behind the car ahead (you can set the follow distance). ACC is now almost always paired with a pre-crash system that alerts you and often begins braking if the car detects that you are not going to stop in time to avoid a collision.
Some ACC systems even allow your car to come to a complete halt and then resume moving automatically, making stop-and-go traffic considerably less tiring for your right foot. ACC is usually an optional add-on which can cost thousands. ACC’s performance may also be affected by heavy rain, snow and fog.
Suppose you park head in, and are now leaving the lot. It can be difficult for you to tell whether there are oncoming vehicles, as there may be cars parked beside yours. With a system like rear cross-traffic alert, you now have more peace of mind.
What the rear cross-traffic alert does is to warn you if there are cars coming your way and may collide with the rear of your vehicle.
Thanks to sensors built into the rear of the car, the system can alert you to approaching vehicles, and even shopping carts or pedestrians who might wander behind your car without you noticing. Loud beeps are standard with these systems, but some cars can even automatically brake before a collision occurs.
4. 360-Degree Camera
Rear backup cameras are extremely useful. But what’s even more useful is a 360 degree camera like the one found in this BMW X3. With cameras and sensors mounted around the perimeter of the vehicle, they can stitch and render a 360 degree view of your surroundings. Meaning you are getting a bird’s eye view of your car. Pretty neat !
This camera can be useful for large vehicles like an SUV or pickup truck, where visibility may not be as good.
The systems are getting cheaper and cheaper as the technology becomes mainstream, and are available on some even moderately priced cars these days.
5. Lane Departure Warning
This technology may be around for awhile - but it’s worth mentioning as it is extremely useful, especially for older or distracted drivers. Lane departure warning uses sensors that detect the white road markings, to identify if your car is in the lane or not. Once the car starts to veer outside the markings, the car can either signal the driver’s seat or steering wheel to vibrate to alert the driver, or a chime or warning sound. The system turns itself off when you use your signal.
This is useful for drivers who may fall asleep while driving, or those whose minds may have wandered off and they are unaware that they are no longer in their lane.
More advanced tech, sometimes called Lane Keeping Assist, can even help nudge you back into the proper lane, which can literally save your life if you were heading into opposing traffic.
6. Automated Parking
There aren’t many cars on the market with this feature, unlike the Audi A8. What automated parking does it just as it’s name suggests - the car parks itself so you don’t have to.
The car can control the steering, accelerator, brakes while you are outside the car watching. Yes - outside ! All this is monitored via the myAudi app. You can even summon the car to your location from the app. Talk about progress ! This is even more advanced that what competitors like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Tesla have in their cars.