Electronics have transformed automotive safety in ways that no engineer could have imagined a few decades ago. Even today's entry-level vehicles employ as many as 10 airbags, along with electronic stability control and antilock braking technology. The list of safety systems is expected to grow in the near future. Backup cameras, lanekeeping systems, and forward collision monitors are planned for some 2013 models, and automakers are learning to design better, lighter safety cages.
We've collected images of forward-looking innovations. From airbags and vision systems to communications and safety cages, we present a few of the latest and greatest.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
A Bering Co. system for motorcyclists senses a crash and inflates a jacket-type airbag in just 80 msec. (Source: Bering Co.)
Watch a demonstration of Honda's forward collision warning system below.
I couldn't agree more, Beth. It always amazes me to see people riding without helmets or even with bare arms and legs (I grew up in Southern NH). Riding in car is dangerous enough these days, so it's nice to see all of the safety options that are available.
The appeal of the motorcycle airbag will probably be minimal among serious bikers, which is hard to understand given how dangerous riding can be. I live in Mass. where there is a helmet law, but there isn't one in New Hampshire, which is right over the border. I'm always amazed at the riders blazing across the highways without any kind of protective gear, and especially being bare-headed. I get the thrill of speed and the wind in your hair and all that, but it seems to me to be astoundingly short sighted given your dependency on other drivers for your safety.
I agree, Naperlou. The forward collision avoidance is the most impressive and it's likely to have the most effect down the road. It's one more piece of the autonomous puzzle. As for the motorcycle airbag, it works very well, I'm told, but I wonder how great its appeal will be among serious bikers.
This is quite a show, Chuck. I didn't realize the wide range of safety technology that's getting developed for mobility. I would guess this isn't happening in a vacuum. Seems that safety technology is becoming a competitive factor.
Chuck, there are lots of interesting new technologies in your slide-show. I was especially impressed by the forward colision avoidance system. In the video it was pointed out that the system stops warning when the driver takes evasive action. That is a good feature and shows that the designers were really thinking about how the decive would be used.
While many of the innovations listed involve electronics for control, or are primarily electronics, there are some that are passive safety systems, such as the vehicle structure examples.
One thing I find counterintuitive is the motorcycle example. The safety vest is nice, but the trend these days, at least where I live (Illinois) is that bikers are dispensing with even the most basic safety equipment (e.g., helmets). In Europe, I noticed when I lived there, there was much more use of safety equipment, such as full body crash suits. So, I wonder how much up take there would be. Really, motorcycles are inherently dangerous (I know).
Nice slideshow, Chuck. Shows a mix of what's cooking up in the development labs that can have a major impact on reducing highway fatalities. The motorcycle suit is pretty amazing. You hear about so many fatalities on bikes and something like that could really reduce the risk. Is that something that the biker wears or is it part of the motorcycle like an airbag?
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