Hybrid vehicles and other forms of next-generation personal consumer transportation have proved to be polarizing in recent years. For all the people who are excited about lessening their carbon footprints and spending less for reliable transportation, there remains a loud minority that bellyaches about their fear of being herded into accepting some global warming ideology they insist there isn’t enough evidence to support. But there are some forms of next-gen auto technology that everyone can agree are good ideas. A recent article in Popular Mechanics highlights four examples that may seem small, but they’re certain to make a big difference in the way we drive.
The Infiniti Eco Pedal saves gas via hypermiling
Turn the activation dial on the dash, and the Eco Pedal – currently available in Infiniti’s M-series sedans, in Nissans later – will help even out a driver’s tendency to jab erratically at the accelerator while in transit. It does this by adding resistance to the pedal itself. This ultimately saves gas by teaching drivers hypermiling techniques, and drivers still have the ability to override the Eco Pedal in the event that quick acceleration is necessary to avoid an accident. Infiniti estimates that the Eco Pedal will improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent.
Steering away from danger, automatically
Radar works great for the military and air traffic control, so why not put it to use in consumer automobiles? A company named Continental is doing just that with Emergency Steer Assist (ESA). Via radar sensors, if a crash is imminent, ESA alters vehicle steering ability so that it’s very easy to steer away from danger, but incredibly difficult to steer into that telephone pole. ESA is also connected to a car’s stability control, making remaining in control after the swerve easier.
Get a grip with the right camber
NASCAR teams align the camber angle of their drivers’ tires in order to get optimal grip for race track conditions. The Camber Tire from Optima Sports has an inner sidewall that’s shorter than the outboard, which tilts the top of the tire in toward the vehicle. Increased negative camber is the result, which enhances cornering grip. The Camber Tire is designed to keep tread flat on the road while maintaining this camber tilt.
You car will tell you when the tires are worn
Continental’s Intelligent Tire System sounds like a technological marvel. Aside from air pressure, the system will track tire temperature, load and acceleration forces, among other factors. If it’s time to switch to snow tires, for instance, the Intelligent Tire System will tell you. Popular Mechanics reports that these easy-to-install devices will begin to appear on luxury vehicles by 2013, followed by mainstream cars as the cost of the technology falls.
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