Eye tech

Sen­sors are work­ing overtime as new cars scan the road for crash risks. But what do all the fancy acronyms mean?

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

ROAD safety used to be about how ve­hi­cles broke. Now it’s about how they brake. In place of crum­ple zones, seat­belts and airbags to min­imise harm in the event of an ac­ci­dent, car­mak­ers are us­ing sen­sors to try to avoid the crash in the first place.

The ar­ray of TLAs (three­let­ter acronyms) mar­ket­ing de­part­ments use to tout these tech­nolo­gies is as nu­mer­ous as car brands them­selves.

These days, there’s no rea­son to be im­pressed if a sales­per­son talks about stan­dard ABS (anti-skid brakes), trac­tion con­trol or elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol — by law all must be on ev­ery new pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sold.

And over the next few years, you can ex­pect even more acronyms in the stan­dard fea­tures list, as author­i­ties look to man­date the fit­ment of more safety tech­nol­ogy.

The real sur­prise is that the cheaper, main­stream brands are of­fer­ing sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy to the lux­ury mak­ers. Just last week, Skoda an­nounced that au­ton­o­mous brak­ing would be stan­dard on its cheap­est car, the Fabia hatch, which starts at just $15,990 drive­away.

The move shows how fun­da­men­tally cheap it can be to add life­sav­ing tech­nol­ogy on the pro­duc­tion line. And it e em­bar­rasses some of those pres­tige brands who con­tinue to bun­dle sen­sor-based safety fea­tures in “packs” cost­ing t thou­sands of dol­lars.

Sadly the same ap ap­plies to ba­sic tech such as re­vers­ing cam­eras. When a lens can be fit­ted to the rear of a $14,490 Honda Jazz there’s lit­tle ex­cuse not to have it on ev­ery car, let alone one with a six­fig­ure price.

Cars­guide looks at the latest tech­nolo­gies, most of which are avail­able from main­stream brands, ei­ther as an op­tion or as stan­dard equip­ment.

ADAP­TIVE CRUISE

Adap­tive cruise con­trol is a must-have for those who travel long dis­tances in Aus­tralia. Driv­ers can set the speed and the car uses radar sen­sors and/ or cam­eras to gauge the dis­tance to the ve­hi­cle in front and then main­tain a gap, au­to­mat­i­cally brak­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing as re­quired. Pre­mium sys­tems are fit­ted with a stop-and-go func­tion that, as the name sug­gests, can bring the ve­hi­cle to a com­plete stop be­hind another car at the lights and then ac­cel­er­ate back up to speed as the traf­fic moves off.

AU­TON­O­MOUS EMER­GENCY BRAK­ING

Touted as the next big thing in soft­ware-based safety, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency

Main pic­ture: Some Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB) units can de­tect pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists.

Be­low from left: Blind spot warn­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol, cam­eras scan­ning the road and pedes­trian

de­tec­tion.

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