Monday, January 26, 2009

No Just Crash Protection, but Prevention

By Matt Nauman
Mercury News
Posted by Shu Zheng

A car that can brake itself to avoid a fender-bender during the morning commute might seem far into the future.

Except it goes on sale in March.

That's when City Safety, a low-speed collision-avoidance technology becomes available on the new 2010 Volvo XC60, a crossover utility.

City Safety is just one of several new technologies designed to prevent car crashes and save lives. Auto sales are at a nearly two-decade low, but the pace of safety innovations continues unabated. Whereas air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control were the standard for a safe car until very recently, automakers continue to raise the stakes.

Radar, lasers and cameras work with computers and sophisticated software to do tasks unheard of just a few years ago. They tell you if you're falling asleep at the wheel, or if a car is in your blind spot. If you drift from your lane, they warn you, and in some instances, nudge you back into your lane. And modern cruise control doesn't just keep a steady speed, but can help your car keep a steady distance with the car in front of you.

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