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Advanced Technology is Coming to a Car Near You

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

If you haven’t heard about ADAS yet, you will. It stands for advanced driver assistance systems, and they are coming to a car near you.

Here is a rundown of the most common components of ADAS technology:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). Vehicles use sensors and cameras at the front of the car – sometimes in the bumper, sometimes mounted in the windshield – to sweep for vehicle and other objects, including pedestrians or animals. If the vehicle detects that it’s about to hit something at low speeds, it brakes for you to avoid the collision. This is often paired with Forward Collision Warning, which uses a signal like a beep or a light in the dashboard to let you know that you should try to avoid the car or deer in question, but if you don’t stop in time or maneuver around the trouble, the car will stop for you.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). This technology goes by many names, but it uses the same forward sensors and cameras as AEB to keep track of the car in front of you on the highway. You can set your following distance, and the vehicle will adjust its speed to maintain that safe distance. In some cases, this feature works at low speed to help you creep along in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  • Lane Departure Warning. In this case, the vehicle uses sensors all around to locate the lines of the highway. If it senses that the car is drifting across lines but you haven’t signaled that you intended to change lanes, it will beep or flash a warning that you need to adjust. With Lane Keeping, the car will simply steer itself a bit to stay in the lane. These features only work when there are visible lane markers.
  • Parking Assist. These systems again use sensors all around the vehicle to find a parking space, either parallel or perpendicular. With a few inputs from you, like operating the gas and brake, the vehicle will maneuver itself into the space. Some vehicles can park themselves without your being in the car at all.

While all of this sounds expensive at best and intimidating at worst, it’s actually a huge step in the direction of safety. It’s true that the most advanced technological features will be found on high-end luxury vehicles, but it’s also true that these safety features are becoming more common on average-priced new vehicles. As more manufacturers incorporate ADAS, and as more of these systems become required, the prices are likely to continue to fall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and 20 automakers recently announced that they would include AEB on all new passenger vehicles by 2022. NHTSA had expected to require the technology by 2025, but moving the timeline up by three years is estimated to prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries. But you don’t need to wait that long to take advantage of ADAS—the next car you buy will likely have some of this technology on board.