BBC Autos


The future of driving is now

  • Car seat lane departure warnings

    Cadillac's lane departure warning alerts a driver who is drifting out of a lane by vibrating the right or left side of the driver's seat. Cameras and sensors also pinpoint the locations of other cars to avoid fender-benders in the parking lot. (General Motors)

  • Rear collision intervention

    Simply put, Infiniti's Backup Collision Intervention system stops a vehicle from backing into objects. Audio and visual alerts are conveyed to the driver first, and if the driver does not heed those, the accelerator will actually push back on the driver’s foot. If the driver continues to mash the throttle, the system applies the brake. Cars that stop themselves? Indeed. (Nissan North America)

  • Regenerative braking

    Batteries that recharge themselves are already here. Regenerative braking captures the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost during braking, and converts it into electrical energy. The principle allows the recharging of batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Tesla Model S. (Tesla Motors)

  • Smartphones as car keys

    Smartphones connect users to the world, but they are as good as a set of keys. GM's OnStar RemoteLink app can start OnStar-enabled vehicles directly from the subscriber’s iOS-enabled Apple mobile device, as well as from Android and BlackBerry handsets. An OnStar subscriber can also lock and unlock the vehicle, as well as check vehicle diagnostics. (General Motors)

  • Adaptive steering sensitivity

    Some cars, like the Lincoln MKS, can adjust their steering sensitivity to match suspension and engine response. Comfort settings allow the steering wheel to move more easily, while sport modes make steering more stiff and give the driver an enhanced feel of the road. Behold, the mood ring of steering systems. (Ford Motor)

  • Complete accident prevention systems

    The car of the future will be involved in fewer accidents and make split-second decisions, and it is already for sale. Subaru's EyeSight system uses cameras mounted on the back of the rearview mirror to determine if the car’s nose is about to hit another car, pedestrian or other object. The system warns of an impact, decelerates and can even bring the vehicle to a complete stop. (Subaru of America)

  • Adaptive cruise control

    Stagnant cruise control speeds are so 20th century. Adaptive cruise control allows drivers to set the cruise control speed and the distance they want to maintain from the car in front of them. The Audi A6 uses sensors and radar to keep the car at the desired speed and following traffic at a safe distance. (Audi of America)

  • Night vision

    Some cars can see in the dark. Mercedes' Active Night View Assist uses infrared cameras to sense what is in front of the car and display it on a dashboard screen. The technology goes far beyond what simple headlights can illuminate, actually pinpointing pedestrians who may be walking along the side of the road. (Mercedes-Benz USA)

  • Heads-up displays

    What used to be a feature in fighter jets has made its way into passenger cars. Heads-up displays (HUD) project navigation, pedestrian-proximity warnings and other relevant information onto a translucent film on the car’s windshield. BMW's HUD system gives drivers control over which information renders there, as well as how it is positioned, all the better to keep the driver's eyes on the road. (BMW of North America)

  • Autonomous cars

    Google leads the driverless car research race with more than 300,000 miles logged without a driver, but Toyota, Audi and Volvo are working on their own versions of self-driving cars. You cannot buy them yet, but they do exist – as some motorists in the state of Nevada can attest. (Google)