New Automobile Technologies

Yet another step forward in the quest for automated transportation, the 12th Annual World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems features some very cool new technologies such as self-parking cars, enhanced safety systems, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Toyota has already embedded the self-parking technology into their Prius line in Japan and Europe; the driver uses only the brake pedal to control speed, while the car controls every other aspect including turning the wheel. [Toyota officials said these add-ons will likely be released in the United States in 2006.]

Another burgeoning technology is the Pre-Crash Safety System, which combines a millimeter wave radar mounted on the front of the car and a video camera on the top of the windshield to help detect imminent crashes and reduce impact. The demos showed the cars tightening seat belts and braking automatically dependent on distance and time to impact.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications is still a few years away, but could be really useful in preventing accidents. Using the upcoming 802.11p wireless standard, cars are equipped with wireless transponders that broadcast various pieces of information such as speed and braking status to nearby cars.