Discover how advances in IoT mean a safer ride for you and less accidents on the road.
Let’s face it, technology has crept into nearly every aspect of our lives. From the phones that we can’t live without, to the smart thermostat that turns our heat on before we get home.
One area that has seen great benefits from IoT technology is the automotive industry. In the last few decades as computers have gotten smaller, faster, and cheaper they have found their way into every system in the car.
The same technology in our smartphones is now being leveraged to lessen human driving error and make the roads safer. Like the invention of the seat belt, these technological advances in automotive safety will likely become standard on all cars in the future, diminishing loss of life and accidents. The following list is just a small sample of the way embedded systems and IoT has revolutionized safety and piece of mind for millions of drivers. Keep your eyes out for a vehicle with one of these features when you make your next car purchase.
1. Adaptive Cruise Control
The Technology: Since the early 1990’s automotive manufacturers have been outfitting their vehicles with systems of varying sophistication meant to watch the road ahead for slowing traffic while cruise control is applied. Depending on the system, the driver will receive an audible warning if traffic is slowing or more advanced systems will apply the brakes for the driver. Adaptive cruise control either relies on LIDAR, which has its limitations, or takes a more traditional radar based approach. ACC can also be coupled with the car’s GPS system to detect upcoming obstacles and adjust accordingly.
The Impact: ACC is now an optional feature from almost every major auto manufacturer on the market. Systems that were once reserved for higher end cars have now trickled down to lower and less expensive models. Research on the impacts of adaptive cruise control indicate that the system not only reduces the likelihood of an accident but also help to reduce traffic.
2. Lane Keep Assist
The Technology: Lane keep assist, also called lane departure warning, emerged in the early 2000’s. The system watches the road and if the driver begins to move out of their lane, the car will warn the driver or in some cases will apply steering input in order to guide the vehicle back into the lane. Lane keep assist relies on a camera mounted on the windshield that monitors the road in front as well as laser and infrared sensors, which collect data about the car’s surroundings. The car then processes these signals and makes a determination if the car has strayed outside of the lines.
The Impact: As with ACC, lane keep assist is becoming a standard feature on many of the higher end models from Japan and Europe, while it remains an option on lower trim levels. Two studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that cars outfitted with lane keep assist had lower crash rates than similar vehicles without the technology.
3. Pre-Collision Braking
The Technology: Pre-Collision Braking is similar to ACC in the fact that it utilizes radar or LIDAR to detect obstacles in the road ahead and warn the driver. Some more advanced systems have image recognition that can determine if a pedestrian has walked in front of a car and apply the brakes. If the car is traveling at low speeds the car will just apply the brakes whereas at higher speeds it may steer to avoid the obstacle.
The Impact: An agreement between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety determined that all new cars sold in the United States by 2022 would have some form of pre-collision braking. The same report estimated that making such a system standard could prevent 28,000 collisions and 12,000 injuries.
4. Blind Spot Monitoring
The Technology: Blind spot monitoring is one of the most basic forms of technology on the list. It employs a camera, usually mounted under the side mirror, to monitor traffic that enters the blind spot of the driver. This same technology can also be used at low speeds to warn the driver if there is traffic behind them as they pull out of a parking spot. The driver can be alerted by a visual warning on their side mirror or in the instrument cluster, a vibration of the steering wheel, or an auditory cue.
The Impact: A report by the IIHS determined, “Crash involvement rates in lane-change crashes of all severities and with injuries were 14% and 23% lower, respectively, among vehicles with blind spot monitoring than those without” (IIHS Report).
5. Autonomous Vehicles
The Technology: This is the crème de la crème of all driver assistance technologies. Vehicles with semi-autonomous capabilities such as the Tesla Model S couple a myriad of sensors such as cameras, sonar, and radar with advanced computing platforms like the Nvidia Drive PX to produce a car that almost drives itself. In addition to all the capabilities listed above, cars like the Model S can steer themselves, be summoned to your location, and take you to your destination.
The Impact: It is hard to overstate the importance of a fully autonomous vehicle. If we ever arrive at the day when every car on the road drives itself, and I believe that day is not as far off as one might think, the consequences will be huge. From reduced deaths and accidents to a disruption of the insurance market, self driving cars will change the way we live our lives.
IoT Will Always Be Dependent on Hardware
All of these innovations are dependent on embedded systems and the complex pieces of software and hardware that run them. As we have learned time and again, these systems are only as good as the people who design them.
Once we enter an age where the average motorist relies heavily, or entirely, on these driver aids, there will be no room for error. While automotive safety innovations are indispensable, the security and infallibility of these systems must be a top priority. We must begin to hold all connected systems in our life accountable for security, especially if they deal with the safety millions of people.
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