A compromise will probably have to be found, then on the one hand, the aim is accident-free driving, on the other hand, the overruling of the driver's decisions is not desired. The most stringent example nowadays, is already being installed in Swedish vehicles. It prevents further driving if the breathalyzer registers a positive result. The test is carried out in regular intervals and can not be outwitted by using an air pump. Indeed, a sober front seat passenger is in theory sufficient.
Infrared light makes night foresight possible.
For use in darkness there is a night-vision device installed in the speedometer, this allows you to see the roads almost as bright as during the day. In picture 2 you can see the difference that the dashboard display makes. Instead of the usual speedometer display, a processed image, much clearer than you can see through the windscreen, is presented by the infrared camera mounted behind the rear-view mirror. Special headlights make objects visible which cannot be seen without invisible infrared light, comparable with the high beam.
The camera does not (yet) follow the curve of the road. Indeed, the vision is hampered by the lights from oncoming traffic and the distance to these vehicles is also difficult to estimate, this is due to the lack of 3 dimensional vision, road-signs are also hardly visible. With this new technology there are of course no more real instrument needles, everything is simulated on one screen. Thus, in future one will probably be able to choose the between various presentation forms and also colour combinations.
In the meantime, there are quite clear differences amongst the premium-range car manufacturers. While some blend the view into the display behind the steering wheel, others prefer to have it appear in the middle of the dashboard, which distracts even more from what's happening on the road. The so-called 'Head-Up displays' which project the view onto the lower part of the windscreen are also being developed by the car manufacturers. The manufacturers differ as far as presentation is concerned as well. If infrared light is emitted during the camera-take, the picture is much clearer. A (passive) picture emphasizes more the contents of the picture which are important, e.g., pedestrians. In the future we'll have to expect even further computer intervention. The sharper picture will be combined with clearly outlined, moving picture parts.
Warning when leaving your lane
New variations of the lane-assistant are being introduced almost on a monthly basis. Not only are the sensors and the evaluating being improved, but also new possibilities of drawing the attention of the driver to his/her potential driving error. The vibrations that were once perceptible in the seat, are now being transferred to the steering wheel to simulate the crossing of lane boundaries which protrude out past the lane limits.
However, there are also truck manufacturers who are content with rattling noises out of the respective loudspeakers when leaving a lane. In general, these systems are based on scanning the road surface and distinguishing the lanes. Should this is not possible, e.g., due to the lack of road markings, they shut up totally or they can be switched off. Systems, such as the automatic maintaining of a distance behind a certain vehicle, are not yet (2007) quite ready to go into mass production. In the event of your renting a top of the range luxury car, and the sun-roof closes automatically, then take care, you might be tail-gating and the system is preparing you for a possible accident.
The 'thinking' but not auto-reacting braking system.
A radar- or laser-system with sensors for both ranges, nearby and further away, can either recognize only obstacles having the same width as a vehicle or in addition, they can also recognize pedestrian-size obstacles. Should this be the case, first of all the driver is warned and urged to react. A few seconds before the actual impact, the seat-belts may be tightened, thus waking passengers assumed to be asleep. Should the driver take steps to avoid anything happening, there is no further reaction from the system. If the warning is ignored, the possibilities range from a timely automatic braking at speeds of less than 30 km/h, up to the pre-tensioning of the braking system causing automatic emergency braking. Simultaneously, the new LED-brake lights send out a more effective warning to the following traffic, e.g., through certain lighting intervals or variable activation of the individual lights. Apart from the active accident prevention, the passive prevention can also be activated.
The 'thinking' but not auto-reacting braking system.
In the future, a great deal more is possible. For all this to happen, the communication between the vehicles is an important step. Indeed, these systems are not only seen as tail-back alarms. With the future precision of the European GPS-system, which is accurate to less than one meter, the vehicle which is about shoot a red traffic light, will even be able to warn other vehicles.
Speaking of traffic lights, using faster WLAN, the stationary traffic infrastructure will of course, also be taken into account. Now, instead of having 'car-to-car' communication, it will be 'car-to-X'. Your car will be told, e.g., what the next traffic lights are showing and can respond accordingly (economically). 06/12