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Old 23rd February 2008, 08:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Playing it safe

Playing it safe
Cars that brake on their own to avoid impacts and which 'talk' to other cars could be the future of motoring
By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent



SAFE JOURNEY: Car Manufacturers are no dummies when it comes to inventing accident-prevention systems. -- PHOTO: MERCEDES-BENZ

YOU must have heard how flying is safer than driving. While that may be true in many instances, you are far more likely to walk away from a car crash than a plane crash.

From the time three-point seatbelts became a standard feature in Volvos in 1959, much has been done to make vehicles safer.

Airbags, for instance, have become the next most crucial safety feature. When the inflatable restraint made its debut here in the 1980s - possibly in a Porsche - only the driver was protected.

Today, it is not uncommon to find 10 airbags in an upmarket model, including curtain type systems that inflate across the whole window section as well as knee airbags.

Seatbelts and airbags have saved many a limb and life. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that safety belts have saved 147,246 lives between 1975 and 2001 and airbags saved 8,369 lives.

The two restraints work in conjunction with several other devices which have become standard features.

These include side impact beams (to minimise intrusion into the cabin in a crash), crumple zones (to absorb crash energy so that the cabin remains intact) and rollover bars (so that the roof does not cave in when the vehicle rolls over).

All these are passive safety features, designed to help when a collision is unavoidable. And they do nothing to help other road users.

Cars, however, are also incorporating more 'active safety' these days. The best known would be the anti-lock braking system (ABS), which applies the brakes in pulses so that the wheels do not lock up and cause the driver to lose steering control.

Next, traction control. This started as a rather simple feature that cuts power to wheels which are losing traction and has evolved to sophisticated systems that will calibrate power delivery to each individual wheel - not only when a loss of traction is detected, but when too much tilt or yaw is detected too.

If necessary, it will even apply the brakes (to individual wheels too).

Active safety has now entered another phase. With advanced electronics and the advent of fast and inexpensive microprocessors, the driver now has an arsenal of aids to help keep him and others out of trouble. There's more.

Volvo is working on several new systems, including one that preps the car for panic braking.

Mr Jonas Ekmark, manager for preventive safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre, says: 'Accident statistics show that the risk of a passenger being killed increases dramatically if the collision takes place at speeds above 30kmh.

'That is why it is so important for us to reduce the speed as much as possible when a collision is unavoidable.'

He adds: 'But in most scenarios, the warning signal will be given in time to help the driver to completely avoid the collision.'

Honda has a similar system. Using radar, it calculates the distance and speed differential with the vehicle in front.

When a threshhold is breached, the driver receives visual and audio warnings before brakes are progressively activated. Seatbelts are also tightened to alert the driver of an impending problem and lessen any resulting injuries.

To avoid automatic braking when the driver has the situation under control, Volvo cars has programmed the technology to activate such braking only when it becomes impossible to steer away from the collision.

It is also working on another system that steers the car out of trouble. Using both a camera and radar to monitor the position of the car and oncoming traffic, it is designed to help prevent a frontal collision caused by distraction.

Volvo is also among companies working on a 'standard language' which makes it possible for vehicles to 'talk' to each other, irrespective of make. This communication could warn other vehicles of an imminent safety problem.

British non-profit group Thatcham, which specialises in research in the insurance and motor repair industries, estimates that anti-collision systems already available today in Volvos, Mercedeses and Hondas could eliminate low-speed bumps, which make up 75 per cent of all accidents, and cost billions in damages and millions in lost manhours.

Its research manager Matthew Avery says: 'Thatcham believes that if manufacturers embrace the new systems and fit them as standard, more than 125,000 injuries will be prevented each year in Britain alone.'


http://www.straitstimes.com/Free/Sto...ry_209308.html

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Old 23rd February 2008, 12:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

Smart car like those in taxi in Total Recall.


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Old 25th February 2008, 10:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

Yes, maybe, except that you do not need a dummy sitting in the front driver's seat.

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Old 25th February 2008, 11:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

its kinda weird... when u are not driving ur own car.. ur car is o.....o

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Old 29th February 2008, 05:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

Then no need to take driving test liao

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Old 3rd March 2008, 02:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

I rather control my own car than let a robot do the job.

What if the robot got glitches and ram the car, and putting me at risk.

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Old 3rd March 2008, 10:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

true.. glitches are like normal for tech stuff. its almost never perfect

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Old 3rd March 2008, 11:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Playing it safe

But some day, being able to drive will be an optional skill liao

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