Auto Tech

when it comes to motoring: there are many technologies that in the last 10 years have become (more or less) common on the cars we drive every day; and some have laid the technical foundations for the cars of tomorrow, those with independent driving and zero environmental impact. Below is a list of the 10 things that the latest generation of cars are able to do and that just 10 years ago seemed unthinkable.

They park on their own

The dream is a reality: finally, the cars have sensors that can calculate enough space to carry out a parking manoeuvre and carry it out almost completely independently. The driver only has to manage the gas and the brake, while the steering “turns” by itself!

They keep an eye on the car in front (and brake) to prevent rear-end collisions

For some years now, the road has been watched not only by the driver’s eyes but also by the electronic eyes of the radars installed in the front of the car: their task is to constantly monitor what is happening in front of the vehicle, warn the driver of a potential collision and intervene in its place on the brakes in the event of an imminent collision. These radars are and will be fundamental also for the cars that, in a few years, will drive alone.

On the motorway they maintain the speed, the lane and the distance from the car in front of them.

Cruise control, the cruise control system, has existed for decades: but now it has evolved and, in addition to being able to maintain the set pace, it is also able to maintain the safety distance from the vehicle in front – adapting the speed accordingly – and resume the desired pace as soon as possible. In addition, some models are able to warn the driver and even intervene on the steering wheel when the car leaves its lane. Again, this is based on radar and sensors.

They monitor blind spots, even when manoeuvring

The famous “blind spots” of the rear-view mirrors – which do not allow you to see the vehicles behind the driver’s field of vision – are now history of the past: there are many cars now equipped with “blind spot monitoring”, the system that signals the driver the presence of vehicles when overtaking or approaching the side of the car.

The same technology is used to detect people or objects that could be hit during the manoeuvring phases: in the latter case, the “hawk’s eye” function is particularly useful. Through 4 cameras installed on the sides of the bodywork, it is possible to simulate a 360° view of everything around the car from above.

They hold the car during uphill departures

One of the nightmares of those who learn to drive is precisely the uphill starts, when it has not yet been learned how to operate the clutch of cars with manual transmission. However, many cars are now equipped with “hill holders”: in practice, the car automatically activates the brakes for a few seconds, the time it takes for the driver to engage the clutch and start without having to use the handbrake. When the clutch is released, the brakes are automatically switched off.

They warn you if a tyre deflates

The tyre pressure monitoring system is one of the most important high diffusion technologies, after ABS and ESP (systems that do not make the wheels skate under braking and maximize the stability of the vehicle in emergency situations):

it allows to constantly check the state of inflation of the tires; the latter are the only contact of the vehicle with the asphalt and their efficiency inevitably depends on maintaining the correct working pressure. When a tyre is deflated or punctured, the system warns the driver in good time.

They turn on the lights, high beam and windscreen wipers themselves.

Twilight sensors allow new cars to recognize the state of ambient lighting in which the vehicle is travelling: in practice they recognize whether it is night or if the car is facing a tunnel and turn on the lights accordingly and the headlights when possible; the latter are activated only if no other vehicles arrive on the other lane. If it rains, the rain sensor activates the wiper blades and adjusts their speed according to the intensity of the showers.

They turn on the air conditioning a few minutes before the driver gets into the car.

This is a feature on more expensive vehicles and allows you to time the automatic activation of the air conditioning, just like you do with the air conditioner at home. So those who get into the car already find the desired temperature: a nice advantage, especially when the climate is very cold or very hot. Some models can also control this functionality remotely, via smartphone apps.

Through the internet they can book hotels, restaurants, car parks or find places of interest.

How to have a sort of virtual secretary always at your side: let’s talk about internet services, increasingly widespread even on board the cheapest models. Through them, in addition to being able to read e-mails and consult the latest news, you can find places of interest, workshops, but also book hotels, restaurants or parking; in short, a real virtual concierge service.

They recognize pedestrians or animals who suddenly parry in front of the vehicle, braking to avoid the collision or reduce its effects.

Also in this case, radar technology is the hinge of the system: the latter, through specific algorithms of pattern recognition, can recognize people who suddenly cross the road and intervenes instantly on the brakes to avoid the impact or limit its consequences. Volvo’s latest models are even able to recognise large animals such as moose, which are particularly numerous in Scandinavia.

Why do hybrid cars grow up?

Hybrid cars are a healthy market. If the leap forward and has been remarkable, it must be said that in the last 8 years this type of car has had a trend of constant growth. Think that in 2011 only 5,162 hybrids were sold.

The market share is still modest, accounting for 3.4% of the total market, but it has the potential to grow. The reasons for the growing appreciation of Italian motorists are certainly to be found in the advantages offered by hybrid cars: