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Cutting-edge vehicle technology continues to evolve

Motor vehicle manufacturers are in a constant state of evolution when it comes to continuing improvements to keep consumers safe. A steady diet of innovations continues to drive the industry with the eventual goal of zero road fatalities.

Past safety features focused on crash protection for drivers and passengers. As time has gone on, these safeguards have grown in sophistication. Motor vehicles powered by electricity and fuel are also”drive” with unprecedented computer processing power.

The use of cameras, radar, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot warning can protect both the occupants in the vehicle and those outside walking, biking, or driving in close proximity.

New technology includes:

Dooring prevention

The simple act of a driver or passenger opening a car door can result in calamitous consequences for bicyclists who either collide with it or veer into traffic to avoid that collision. Cities around the nation cite “dooring” as the cause of nearly 20 percent of crashes.”

In response, auto manufacturers are adding Safe Exit Assist. Sensors detect an oncoming vehicle from behind. If a car driver or bicyclist is approaching, visible and audio warnings will sound or disable the door from opening.

“Invisible” pedestrian protection

Pedestrian deaths are approaching 50 percent over the past decade. Last year saw more than 6,700 killed in accidents. Darkness accounts for 80 percent of fatalities. Even with cameras, poor lighting can undermine its effectiveness. Instead, thermal cameras are better able to identify pedestrians nearby.

Thermal cameras sense the heat emanating from the person. Initial testing shows that pedestrian detection is at 100 percent in darkness. The technology can be combined with other cameras to achieve what the industry refers to as “sensor fusion.”

Preventing hot car fatalities

According to the National Safety Council, an average of nearly 40 children under 15 die every year due to heatstroke caused by being left in a parked car on hot days. Rear-seat reminder systems and ultrasonic sensors that detect motion are currently used to prevent these “oversights” by drivers.

Combining radar with motion detection can create a more sensitive system that scans the entire car, identifying sleeping children’s chest movements as they breathe. It can also detect pets left in cargo areas by mistake. Warnings take the form of both visual and audio. Drivers can also receive alerts on their cell phones.

While accidents will still occur, the objective of the technology is to minimize, if not end, death due to motor vehicle crashes.