Self-driving Cars: What You Need To Know
There’s an automated car in your future. You may already have one. While it’s not a fully automated, self-driving, autonomous car, it probably falls in one of the six levels of automation established by the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE).
At present, many new cars now fall at level two, which involves controls such as lane guidance and speed adjusting cruise control. Beyond that, we’re on a path that leads to the truly driverless car. What’s subject to a lot of speculation is when that will happen. Estimates range from ten to as much as thirty years.
What we do know is that fully automated self-driving cars won’t suddenly appear. Each year, technology advances allow for greater automation in mainstream vehicles, and that gradual progression will lead us there. Meanwhile, there’s a growing list of new terms that you need to know as a consumer and driver. So add these to your vocabulary!
Adaptive Cruise Control
Traditional cruise control lets you set a speed and that speed is maintained. While it adjusts for speed variation caused by uphill and downhill driving, it depends on you to disengage it if a collision is imminent. Adaptive cruise control uses a combination of lasers, radar, and cameras to automatically slow you when there’s a slower vehicle ahead, and speed you up again when the path is clear.
Lane Departure Warning
Using sensors for visual and tactile (“rumble strips”) lane markings, lane departure warning systems alert you if you’re drifting out of your lane. Since they depend on those markings, the system doesn’t operate where there’s no marking. Some car manufactures take this one step farther, adding Lane Keep Assist. Not to be thought of as an automatic pilot, it will nudge the vehicle back into the current lane should the driver begin to drift out.
Parking and Backing Assistance
There are several features that fall into this area. These include:
- Backup cameras and assistance that indicate if there is an obstacle or person behind the vehicle.
- Rear cross-traffic monitors that check and alert for traffic approaching from the right or left behind the car.
- Automatic parallel parking. Does the chore you hated in driver training, and maybe still do.
- Trailer backup assist. Performs that often challenging job of backing up with another vehicle in tow.
Alerts and More Alerts
Much of the advancing technology has come as the result of what were initially simple alerts. Not to be dismissed for their relative simplicity, they use those same systems of cameras, lasers, and radar to help in piloting your car, and will ultimately be part of the completely driverless car.
- Blindspots. Monitors and alerts for other vehicles in the blindspots just out of the drivers normal view.
- Collision Avoidance. Monitors distance relative to speed of vehicles you’re approaching. Most systems also take over braking control when an emergency stop is required.
- Drowsiness. Monitors driving behaviors that indicate driver is drowsy and sounds or flashes alert to stop and rest.
- Pedestrian and obstacle detection. Similar to collision avoidance, but usually don’t include braking control.
Why It’s Important To Know This
You might thinking that you’ll just leave all this to the manufactures and techie geniuses that invent it. But there’s good reasons to get and stay informed. Both have to do with personal finances.
First, all this technology isn’t free. It adds to the cost of that new car. So being prepared and at least somewhat knowledgeable can help you choose feature packages that are useful to you and your normal type of driving. If you’re never going to back up a trailer, there’s no point in paying for that option.
Second, auto insurance firms are offering credits and discounts for vehicles that have technology to protect the vehicle, driver, and passengers. Sometimes, the savings can be substantial. So check with your insurance company before shopping for that new car to see how much a given feature might save you.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Well, there’s always that trusty bicycle . . .
This guest post was provided by Sam Meenaian
Sam Meenasian is the Operations Director of USA Business Insurance and BISU Insurance and an expert in commercial lines insurance products. With over 10 years of experience and knowledge in the commercial insurance industry, Meenasian contributes his level of expertise as a leader and an agent to educate and secure online business insurance for thousands of clients within the Insurance family.