What’s com­ing to a car near you?

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring -

THERE’S an old car-re­lated joke that’s been buzzing around the in­ter­net for al­most as long as com­put­ers have talked to each other. If cars had evolved as fast as com­put­ers we would all be driv­ing ve­hi­cles that cost $25 and they would be so fuel-efficient they would travel more than 400km.

The re­al­ity is that while com­put­ers have evolved in leaps and bounds, in the 125 years that the car has been around, the fun­da­men­tals are largely un­changed.

Look at the car of to­day. Sim­i­lar to ve­hi­cles of 100 years ago, it still has a wheel at each cor­ner, a big, round thing in front of the driver to make it go in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions and a few foot-op­er­ated in­puts that tell it to stop or go.

There’s even an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cen­tury-old Benz Patent-Mo­tor­wa­gen’s onecylin­der en­gine un­der the mod­ern-day bon­net – al­beit with more cylin­ders and a lot more re­fine­ment.

But that’s not to say cars have stood still dur­ing the past cen­tury.

It has been a con­tin­ual process of im­prove­ment, with such ad­vances as the mono­coque shell (where a car’s strength is built into the en­tire frame rather than just the chas­sis), seat­belts and airbags.

Com­put­ers, too, have brought their in­flu­ence to bear, with fea­tures such as elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, which can help a car cor­rect a skid and anti-lock brakes, which al­low a car to steer through a skid, con­tribut­ing to the safety of those in the car and – in the event of a col­li­sion with an­other ve­hi­cle – those out­side it.

Ex­pect big things as the next gen­er­a­tion of cars be­comes more like com­put­erised liv­ing rooms on wheels rather than the mo­torised tin box with which we’re more fa­mil­iar.

Here’s some of the pro­jec­tions on the tech­nol­ogy on the hori­zon that will change the way we drive. step in and give us a wake-up call if needed.

Lux­ury brands have led the charge on min­imis­ing driver dis­trac­tion, throw­ing up mes­sages on the dash to ad­vise driv­ers to take a well-needed break when they have been be­hind the wheel too long, are fall­ing asleep at the wheel or if a wheel strays too far to one side of a lane.

There are even sys­tems that warn the driver if a ve­hi­cle is sitting in the blind spot be­hind the car or if you’re too close to the car in front.

Some new Mercedes-Ben­zes not only warn if you’re wan­der­ing out of your lane but even ap­ply the brakes to one side of the car to help steer.

Holden’s sys­tem, mean­while, can store up to 15 al­bums in its mem­ory.

Other car stereo man­u­fac­tur­ers are do­ing away with the CD player al­to­gether as USB sticks, mem­ory cards and wire­less au­dio stream­ing via Blue­tooth take their place. ex­ten­ders – ethanol-blended fuel and an elec­tric car with a petrol-pow­ered back-up gen­er­a­tor – and LPG. Like­wise, Ford is stick­ing with what it knows by back­ing LPG but is likely to have a play in the pure­elec­tric ve­hi­cle field with the Fo­cus.

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