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Understanding The Latest Vehicle Technologies

By Expert Author: William Howell

There are a slew of new vehicle technologies being introduced to the market. Most of them focus on improving safety and fuel efficiency. Let's take a closer look at some of these emerging new car technologies.

Many of the new hybrid vehicles are equipped with “Smart” technologies that teach the driver to drive more efficiently. Efficient driving reduces fuel expenses while simultaneously maintaining the vehicle's condition. Most of these smart technologies are found on the dashboard of the hybrid vehicles. Digital indicators will either change colors or present graphics when car operators are driving in both efficient and inefficient manners.

Believe it or not, solar roof panels are now installed on some hybrid models. For example, the Karma luxury hybrid vehicle from Fisker Automotive has a solar roof with four zones and twenty solar cells that converts sunlight into electricity. Some of the electricity is stored and the rest is used for the vehicle's motors, climate control and other power accessories. Some hybrids have solar roofs that power internal fans which send fresh air throughout the car when parked. This technology reduces the strain on the vehicle's air conditioning system.

Parents will be especially interested in programmable safety technologies that put limitations on teen drivers. Select vehicles have computer chips in their ignition keys that can limit the vehicle's speed when operated by specific (teenage) drivers. The technology even lets vehicle owners set limits on the operator's stereo volume levels. It is also possible to set an alarm to sound if the driver with the programmed key does not fasten his safety belt.

One of the more popular emerging vehicle technologies is the lane departure warning system. This system monitors the car's driving direction by keeping track of the markings that divide road lanes. An alert is sounded if the car veers outside its lane. Certain lane departure warning systems will actually assist the driver by re-positioning the vehicle within the lane.

Blind spot warning systems are also emerging on many new vehicles. These systems monitor the rear sides of the vehicle that typically can't be seen with traditional driving mirrors. A visual warning will appear, usually on the side mirrors, when another vehicle, person or object is in the space that the system monitors. This goes a long way in eliminating the dangers of driving with blind spots.

Collision preparation systems are prominently featured on several new cars. This technology is programmed to detect situations that typically lead to accidents. If your vehicle gets too close to another or if your vehicle skids then the system will be triggered. It will take precautionary measures to reduce the likelihood of a collision with another vehicle or object. System functions vary but they do everything from closing open windows to tightening seat belts and applying the brakes.

One of the more remarkable new technologies is stop-start. Stop-start automatically shuts the vehicle's engine down when it is stopped. For example, the engine will be turned off when the vehicle is at a red light and it will start back up the moment that the driver steps on the gas pedal. This technology first appeared on hybrids but is making its way into the mainstream as the technology improves and becomes more affordable.

Another interesting emerging vehicle technology is active cruise control. This technology first appeared on high end luxury automobiles but has transitioned into the mainstream in the recent years. It is also referred to as adaptive cruise control. Its function is to maintain the proper spacing between your automobile and the one ahead of you. The technology differs by vehicle but most employ either a laser or radar to determine how close your vehicle is to the one in front of you. It will decrease your vehicle's rate of speed when you get too close to the other vehicles. Some active cruise control systems even proactively apply your vehicle's brakes when necessary.

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