Auto development comes with auto safety despite increasing fuel price
By Joe Thompson
Although automakers face soaring gas prices, the automotive industry still prioritizes safety amid the fast-paced race to which brand is the best in terms of fuel-economy.
The industry's new 'pre-crash' safety technologies target the crucial milliseconds before a crash or help drivers avoid the crashes in the first place, according to a report by the Associated Press.
On the other hand, according to the survey conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), gas prices are pegged to reach more than $4 a gallon by 2015 and over $5 a gallon by 2020. The US auto industry has long resisted this, according to the academic survey released early this week, but it seemed inevitable now.
The UMTRI said it surveyed more than 100 power train parts experts, including chief executives, from across North America for the report.
"There is a consensus that fuel economy and emissions regulations will not just continue but substantially increase over the next decade," said UMTRI researcher Bruce Belzowski in a statement.
Rising gasoline prices last year prompted U.S. consumers to move away from large fuel-guzzling sports utility vehicles to smaller, fuel-efficient cars and crossover vehicles.
"This survey shows that though manufacturers are developing alternative power trains, they may not be working fast enough to meet the challenges imposed on them by government regulations or by potential dramatic increases of fuel prices," Walter McManus, director of UMTRI's automotive analysis division said.
However, despite such economic difficulty caused by the unending turmoil in the Middle East, the auto industry still manages to pursue what they have been doing since then; that is serving the consumers with innovative systems; an now with safety.
Technologies under development are as follows:
+ Nissan is developing bracelets to be placed on young children that relay signals to vehicles in the area. Drivers passing through are told, "Children nearby, please be careful."
+ Volvo has shown an XC60 crossover concept with a radar system that monitors vehicles about 20 feet in front of the car. When a collision is likely to happen, the technology helps the driver avoid a rear crash by automatically activating the car's brakes.
+ Mercedes-Benz already offers advanced safety features such as long-range and short-range radar to avoid crashes by automatically hitting the brakes if the driver fails to stop in time. It also has developed a feature called 'Night View Assist', which uses infrared beams to detect roadway obstructions far beyond the headlights' reach and transmits an image on the instrument panel.
+ General Motors has been developing vehicle-to-vehicle technology, which helps vehicles communicate with other vehicles up to a quarter mile away to alert each other against dangerous conditions.
+ Ford has experimented using four-point seat belts, similar to belts used by race car drivers, and inflatable seatbelts. These seatbelts have with small air bags inside that deploy in a crash.
Nonetheless, company officials say the advancements still are being evaluated.
About the Author
Joe Thompson is the owner of a successful auto body shop in Ferndale, California. This 38 year old is also a prolific writer, contributing automotive related articles to various publications.
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