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Some Top Technology in 2010 Vehicles

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

If you are shopping for a new car or just checking out this year's newest models, you might be interested in some of the "gee-whiz" technology features that can now be found in the automotive marketplace. This article is a sample listing of some of the technical innovations and gadgetry that are now available on 2010 vehicles.
  • Collision preparation systems are designed to detect and respond to certain events that indicate an accident may be imminent (e.g., a fast closing rate with an obstacle ahead, a vehicle skid, or hard braking by the driver). Such systems may take steps to avoid or minimize the collision (e.g., apply brakes) and/or optimize protection for its occupants (e.g., tighten seat belts, close open windows and sunroofs, lock doors, etc.). Acura, Lexus, Toyota, Volvo, and Mercedes Benz all offer such systems on some models.
  • Some manufacturers are making traditional safety systems smarter. Adaptive restraint systems use pressure sensors and the like monitor the weight and position of the occupants, as well as points of impact and severity, to make decisions as to which airbags or other safety systems to deploy at what degree of force.
  • Volvo's "City Safety" braking feature, now offered on its 2010 XC60, uses radar to help the driver avoid collisions (or at least reduce their damage) in low-speed city driving and bumper-to-bumper traffic situations by automatically applying your brakes at speeds of 18 mph or less, upon detection of an upcoming obstacle (when traveling at speeds of 9 mph or less, it can actually completely stop the vehicle).
  • Lane departure warning systems alert the driver either by audible or tactile means when the vehicle drifts outside of its lane. Typically, they do so by monitoring the relationship of pavement lane markings with respect to the automobile. This technology was introduced by Infiniti, but for 2010, lane departure warning systems are now also available on selected new models from Cadillac, Lexus, BMW, Buick, Volvo, Audi, and Mercedes Benz.
  • Blind spot warning systems monitor areas at the rear sides of the vehicle likely to be unviewable by standard side and/or rear-view mirrors. The systems typically provide a visual indication on the appropriate side mirror when an obstacle is detected in the monitored area. These safety systems are offered on Mecedes Benz, Mazda, Volvo, Buick, Cadillac, and Lincoln models.
  • Driver alertness monitors track driver steering and throttle inputs.If they vary too far from normal, an audible alert is sounded to hopefully restore alertness to a suspected sleepy driver. Volvo began offering such a system in 2008 and Mercedes Benz is now introducing it on select 2010 models.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an extension of both anti-lock brakes and traction control. It helps to maintain the direction of the vehicle in the event that either the front end or the back end of the vehicle begins to slide from the driver's intended path (understeer or oversteer respectively). As SUV's are more prone to roll-over, many manufacturers have taken this technology a step further to reduce the potential of roll-over. As an example, if the driver takes a sharp curve at too high a rate of speed, there is a good chance the vehicle could slide or skid out of control. To prevent the vehicle from rolling over or spinning out of control, the electronic stability control system takes over and sends individual or a combination of computerized commands, as needed and applicable for the situation, that force the application of the brakes to an individual or multiple wheels and/or reduce engine throttle to keep the vehicle under control and on course. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has announced its intention to require all auto manufacturers to include ESC as standard equipment on each and every vehicle by the start of the 2012 model year.
  • Some vehicles offer systems which control the vehicle's suspension system to improve ride, handling, and safety. For instance, the 2010 Range Rover has an "Adaptive Dynamics" suspension system that predicts the response to the driver's actions and constantly fine tunes the suspension settings of each wheel of the vehicle to best suit the terrain. A complementary feature they call "Terrain Response" offers the driver some control over driving environment settings.
  • Tire pressure monitoring systems alert motorists to potentially dangerous under-inflated tires. A warning light will come on if tire pressure in any of your tires falls more than 25% below the recommended inflation pressure. Since model year 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations require all new cars and light trucks to be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. There is also a variety of after-market kits for older cars which weren't factory equipped with this feature.
  • Many vehicles designed for towing now offer trailer sway control features, which detect a swaying trailer and automatically apply individual wheel brakes and/or reduce engine power to attempt to eliminate the swaying motion of the trailer.
  • Audi has tried to address the compromises traditionally made in choosing certain attributes. For example, if you want sporty handling, you typically sacrifice in the softness of the ride. With their "Drive Select" feature, however, at the touch of a button, the driver can configure engine throttle response, transmission shift speed and quality, steering assist level, steering ratio, damper settings and the reaction of the rear axle differential to one of a variety of settings. The idea is that the same car can be set to behave like a comfortable cruiser one day and a sports car the next. How cool is that?
  • Ford's "MyKey" technology offers a new tool to help parents enforce restrictions on their teen drivers. The key will limit the vehicle to a top speed of 80 mph.In addition, it offers several programmable options that can constrain audio system levels, sound a continuous alert if the driver does not wear a seatbelt, and/or sound a chime if the driver exceeds a preset speed (45, 55, or 65 mph). "MyKey" will be introduced as a standard feature on the 2010 Ford Focus, Escape Hybrid, and selected other vehicles.
  • New cruise control technology can work at lower speeds and adjust automatically to correct for traffic congestion by sensing for cars in front and automatically braking to maintain a safe following distance. Adaptive cruise control, as it's called, is no longer available only on top-end cars like Jaguar and Mercedes Benz. Ford is offering it on its 2010 Taurus, Lincoln MKT crossover (Ford Flex cousin), and Lincoln MKS sedan as an $1195 option. Nissan is developing "Intelligent Cruise Control," which may, in the future, also integrate with navigation systems and automatically brake to a safe speed for upcoming curves in the road.
  • Some 2010 hybrid models will begin integrating solar roof panels to generate electricity for either direct use or to charge batteries. A somewhat novel application of this is the 2010 Toyota Prius, which uses solar panels to power a fan that circulates fresh air through the interior of the car when parked. This keeps the passenger compartment cooler, making it more comfortable upon initial entry of the vehicle and, then, reducing the load on its electrically powered air conditioning system.
  • Some Lexus models now monitor the level of outside pollutants. At higher levels, the ventilation system is automatically switched from a fresh air intake mode of operation to a recirculation setting. Once the detected pollutant level is below a threshold, it automatically switches back.
  • Ford and Honda provide new visual displays to better provide feedback to the driver about current fuel efficiency. For example, the Ford Fusion hybrid displays a plant that grows branches and leaves when driven efficiently and withers otherwise. The 2010 Honda Insight hybrid similarly has a speedometer display that varies in color from blue to green to inform the driver of the car's current relative fuel efficiency.
  • Mercedes Benz 2010 S-Class cars feature a new display technology that allows the driver and passenger to see two totally different images when viewing the same screen from their respective positions within the automobile. For example, the driver can utilize navigation features or monitor vehicle systems while the passenger watches a DVD on the very same display, without distracting the driver.
  • Driver control of complicated navigation systems, as well as in-car information, configuration, and entertainment systems, is a difficult problem. Most manufacturers have addressed the driver interface with a touch-screen solution. Now, Lexus is offering Remote Touch, which uses a controller, similar to a computer mouse or joystick that utilizes haptic feedback to provide reaction force through the controller to the driver, and force feedback, which helps move the on-screen cursor to nearby buttons automatically. Reviews have found this interface to be extremely natural and intuitive.
  • The 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid offers another new driver interface feature called the Touch Tracer Display. Every Prius comes standard with steering-wheel-mounted buttons that control the stereo, climate and display functions for the hybrid system. What the Touch Tracer display does is pop up a digital overlay on the center-mounted gauges showing what button your finger is on before you press it down to make your selection.
  • The 2010 Ford Mustang features variable LED interior lighting. The Mustang's interior can be lit up in color according to personal preferences. The driver can select a range of color nuances for instrument lighting as well as for illuminating the Mustang lettering on the entry guards. The LEDs behind the covers change at the push of a button, and with them the ambiance in the interior.



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