Sunday, February 19, 2012

10 car innovations in widespread use today.


By Kelvin Low

Our cars are faster, smarter and most importantly, safer, thanks to these 10 innovations.

ABS brakes

1. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Found in almost all but the cheapest cars, ABS is a simple “anti-lock” system that gives drivers the capability to steer around danger under hard braking by preventing the wheels from locking up. The modern evolution of the ABS sees it being paired up with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), a system which can vary the amount of braking force applied to each wheel. 

2. Electronic Stability Program (ESP)

Once reserved for the upper price bracket, ESP technology has been slowly trickling down to the mid-class segment. Fitted with sensors that monitor the car's behaviour, an ESP-equipped car is able to minimize the loss of control in slippery situations. ESP works in unison with several systems which include ABS and traction control.

3. Entertainment systems

There was once a time when the only entertainment on the road was a basic cassette player and/or a radio. Today's entertainment systems go beyond music, playing video and audio files from a plethora of sources such as USB drives and mobile phones. Some of the latest factory audio systems even include GPS navigation with real-time traffic updates. If you are fortunate to waft through life from the back seat, internet connectivity comes standard with the system.
Parking sensors

4. Parking assists

Where would we be today without the ever faithful parking sensors in the back? When it was first introduced, these sensors were godsend to those who had a problem in judging distances and made parallel parking a breeze. The most sophisticated parking systems today don't just include a barrage of sensors – they come with cameras and radar detection. Some even will do the job of parking the car for you!
Daytime running lights

5. Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

It was a new ruling in Europe Union, and it sparked off a huge trend in Singapore. DRL's are forward-facing lights that are automatically activated when the vehicle is moving. Premium marques or higher-spec'ed cars come with factory LED-equipped DRL systems that emit a bright white light. Since its introduction here, sales for aftermarket DRL kits have taken off too. They work well to varying extent, with results from attention-grabbing to blindingly-annoying.
Keyless system

6. Keyless entry

As it's name suggests, it allows you to enter a car and drive off without having to fumble for the key. The car senses for the presence of a “smart” key fob near it, and only unlocks the doors when you reach for the door handles. Locking is achieved with a slide of a finger on the handles. You can do so much more now with the key fob today, such as starting the engine, opening the boot-lid, windows or even lowering the roof.
Radar technology

7. Radar technology

The police have used it for years to bust speeding drivers, but the same technology has been adapted to make the task of driving easier. Radar technology has already been applied in reverse sensors, but as you go higher up the price chart, you'll find that radar sensors are located in almost all corners of the car, including mirrors so that they can feed information to a blind spot detection system. Even more advanced radar systems can be found in adaptive cruise controls, to make sure there is a safe distance between you and the car in front. They also automatically apply the brakes when it detects an impending collision.
Direct injection engines

8. Direct Injection engines

This new breed of engines sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber instead of injecting it through the air intake port. Compared to the previous method of port injection, direct injection engines burn fuel more cleanly. With more power, you get tighter emission controls and improved fuel efficiency. It's perfect for the current sky-rocketing fuel prices and to meet stricter emissions legislations.
9. Forced induction engines

Once limited to exotic supercars of lore, forced induction technology is the signature of owning a highly-tuned car, and has gained widespread use in many cars today.  Carried out by means of turbochargers, superchargers, or a combination of both to force more air in, forced induction engines can produce similar levels of power as a traditional engine of a larger capacity, at the same time, keeping the emissions in check.
10. Start-Stop technology

A start-stop system is designed to cut the time that an engine spends idling as much as possible, to save fuel. Perfect – if you're often caught at the traffic lights or stuck in jams. First seen in petrol-electric hybrid vehicles, it has seen an increasing application in normal petrol vehicles. Don't think that one can achieve the same results by manual intervention – stuff which traditionally runs off the engine such as air conditioners won't work. A start-stop equipped car can continue to operate as normal, thanks to an electric motor.

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