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New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS - Cathy

There is a lot of hype around cur­rently about self­driv­ing cars. In reality this tech­nol­ogy is still a way off, es­pe­cially for ev­ery­day main­stream use. How­ever what we have al­ready is a level of semi-au­ton­o­mous con­trol and driver as­sis­tance tech­nol­ogy that is start­ing to be­come avail­able even in main­stream fleet ve­hi­cles – here and to­day. Each new launch just seems to en­hance the amount of this tech­nol­ogy and lower the price point of mod­els that in­cor­po­rate it. Some of the first waves of au­ton­omy were seen three to four years ago when self-park­ing, ac­tive cruise con­trol and ba­sic heads up dis­plays started fil­ter­ing into mod­er­ately priced ve­hi­cles. These sys­tems are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated by the year and now we have au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing (AEB) (the car brakes be­fore you hit a car or ob­ject in front of you), cross traf­fic alert (when re­vers­ing), blind spot de­tec­tion, lane as­sist or lane de­par­ture warn­ing and more. The ba­sic par­al­lel self-park­ing now also cov­ers angle park­ing and un­park­ing – the driver still has to op­er­ate the ac­cel­er­a­tor and brake at the mo­ment but it is a no-hands op­er­a­tion. The Hyundai Ioniq EV tested in this is­sue had lane as­sist that would ac­tu­ally steer you around bends on the mo­tor­way with no steer­ing in­put (but was quick to warn you to put your hands on the wheel as it is not full self-drive). At the re­cent Ford Es­cape launch one of the tech­ni­cal team did a walk around of a Ti­ta­nium model, this has 12 ul­tra­sonic park­ing sen­sors (1.5m range), two rear cor­ner radars (30m range) and front mounted Li­dar (10m) and radar (200m) plus a front cam­era – so 17 sen­sors and this is on a $53,000 ve­hi­cle – not a lux­ury level model. Man­u­fac­tur­ers like Subaru are al­ready dis­cussing en­hance­ments to their Eye-sight sys­tem to go to twin stereo­scopic cam­eras which will fur­ther en­hance some of these semi-au­ton­o­mous sys­tems at this level. This all helps make driv­ing safer – es­pe­cially in heavy traf­fic con­di­tions which most fleet ve­hi­cles op­er­ate in. For in­stance, AEB has been shown to re­duce real world rear end crashes by 38 per­cent and up to 75 per­cent in metro ar­eas. Some­times the sys­tems can be a bit too smart and be dis­con­cert­ing for the driver – for in­stance lane keep­ing can op­pose a de­lib­er­ate move by the driver and the emer­gency brak­ing can be a bit ag­gres­sive risk­ing you be­ing rear ended but again this tech­nol­ogy and more im­por­tantly the soft­ware behind it is de­vel­op­ing rapidly – just think how much trac­tion con­trol has ad­vanced from quite ob­tru­sive to pretty much un­seen over the last five years. So let’s all look for­ward to safer and more re­laxed driv­ing as tech­nol­ogy de­vel­ops even though be­ing able to sit back and read a book while com­mut­ing in your car is still quite a way off. Be safe out there.

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