The Collision-Avoidance Systems That Are Changing The Game

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The end game seems apparent: driverless cars. That is where this industry-wide movement has set its GPS navigation system for and the not-so-secret reason is safety. Yes, there are other reasons why autonomous cars make sense, ranging from efficiency to time-saving and a plethora of other exciting prospects. However, it is safety that remains the priority for the simple fact autonomous cars will not get signed off until the safety offering has become flawless.

The good news is, well, this driverless movement has already seen a myriad of high-tech safety features get added to the car’s of today; safety features that are designed to prevent those accidents that hit without warning, happening so fast you are left with a kaleidoscope of fragmented memories about what happened, unsure of how you will ever get back on the road again.

That is what modern car manufacturers have been hoping to cast into the past, never to be worried about again, focussing their efforts on the 8 main causes of car crashes, which you can read about in more detail at To summarize them, these include driver error, speeding, distracted driving, DUI, reckless driving, tiredness, poor road conditions and areas undergoing road construction.

Now, you may have read that list and quickly come to the conclusion that many of these can’t be fixed with technology, but you would be wrong, and that is what car manufacturers the world over have been proving.

FCW & Auto-Braking

For those who are no good at remembering acronyms, FCW stands for Forward-Collision Warning, although their other moniker of “pre-crash warning system” better summarises exactly what they do. The technology they use differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, car to car, but using radar, laser and/or cameras, these systems are designed to warn the driver of an impending collision, throwing up a series of visual, audible and physical cues to alert the person behind the wheel. The intuition of these systems doesn’t stop there, though, as a lot of FCW systems work alongside autonomous braking systems, reducing the chances of driver failure from occurring. Basically, if the driver ignores the warning, the car will either partially brake or apply full braking force automatically.
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Blind-Spot Monitoring

As we touched on briefly above, some of the major causes of collision are driver error, reckless driving (weaving in and out of lanes), and distracted driving. That is where blind-spot monitoring come into play, as these systems use a series of radars and cameras to scan the areas of the car you can’t see so easily – namely beside and behind you. If this system detects a vehicle – or bicycle – then you will notice an illuminated icon appear on whichever wing mirror is appropriate. Of course, most collisions take place because the driver isn’t paying attention to their mirrors. That’s where these systems excel because they project a much stronger warning should you put your signals on or turn the wheel toward the danger. Some systems even hold you to your own lane by applying the brakes on just one side of the vehicle.

Pedestrian Detection And Collision Systems

The pioneer of road safety has always been the guts and girls at Volvo, as you can see from this article at They came up with the three-point seatbelt, the airbag, anti-lock brakes, traction control and a thousand other once novelty safety features, and they also pioneered the pedestrian detection system now used by most manufacturers. The way the work may be complex, but what they do is relatively simple: the detect and recognize pedestrians that stray into the path of your vehicle. In the event of this happening, the car will then apply the brakes if it needs to, using its own judgment to decide whether partial or full braking is required. These have transformed the safety of cars that operate in cities and more populated areas, as you can no doubt imagine.

Drowsiness Detection Systems

One of the biggest killers is drowsiness, it is people wanting to push on through despite tiredness enveloping them, which puts both them and other drivers at huge risk. For once, the technology behind this detection system was not created by Volvo, but Mercedes-Benz instead. The way it works is by using a complex algorithm that detects certain nuances in driving patterns, comparing the driver’s steering behavior with the data it has stored since the start of the journey. This has since been developed so that other variables can be used to improve the operational awareness. These include the car’s lane-positioning and erratic maneuvers; anything that could suggest inattentiveness, which is a big tell-tale sign of tiredness. The more advanced systems are even able to monitor the driver’s eye movement using in-car cameras. In any case, should the car detect what it believes to be a concern, it will then alert the driver using either an audible alert, a quick application of the brakes, a tightening of the seat belt, or just a coffee cup symbol. As far as we are aware, there have been no cases of false alarms. But even if there were, it is better to be safe than sorry.
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Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

These relatively new systems warn drivers of any traffic that is approaching from the rear or sides as you reverse, which is a maneuver no one feels totally comfortable with, checking all sides as you go. Should the car detect anything notable, then an audible noise would ring out as well as a visual cue (usually on one of the mirrors), allowing you to react accordingly. The more advanced systems on this front also work to detect any bicycles and pedestrians that may be in harm’s way. We’ve all had to back into traffic at some point, whether it be reversing out of a parking spot on a busy street or whatever, which is when these systems become extremely handy.

The world of autonomous cars is something that has divided people and left others guessing about what other areas of life will be affected. But for all of the negativity and uncertainty, the advancements in car safety that have come off the back of it has to be seen as a good thing. No. It has to be seen as a great thing.

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