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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

September 25, 2008

Meet George Jetson - New Car Technology

George Jetson, Knight Rider and Dr. Emmett L. Brown from Back to the Future would probably all like to have some of this new car technology installed in their vehicles. Now it's available to all of us.

I recently drove  a Subaru Impreza WRX from Burlington Subaru and it had the coolest big screen GPS system in the dash. You could spin the map around north or south, zoom in and out and call up icons for the nearest restaurants and gas stations, not to mention getting accurate directions for wherever you wanted to go. The car was great to drive, but the cool technology made it even better. Here’s what is new for vehicle GPS systems and a variety of other even newer auto tech innovations.

Removable Navigation Systems
Many people have portable GPS devices and activities like geo-caching are making them even more popular. Auto manufacturers are now providing systems that mate with popular GPS units so you can take them with you when you leave your vehicle. Hyundai, Toyota and Volvo are now offering this option in some models.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
I’ve always loved cruise control, especially for long trips on the highway. The problem is that when traffic in front of you slows down, often temporarily, you have to tap your brake, turning off the cruise control, wait for the traffic to get back to speed and then reset. Well not anymore. With ACC a radar beam monitors the distance between you and the car or truck in front of you. If they start slowing down it adjusts your speed down too, until they take off again and then you speed up automatically. You might worry that this takes the responsibility for driving the car away from the driver. In reality they work really well and will most likely be proven to make you even safer. That’s why so many vehicles are providing it as an option including Toyota, Subaru, Lexus, Jaguar, Infiniti, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Audi and Acura.

Night Vision
Ever hit a deer? Knock on wood, I haven’t yet. New night vision technology uses infrared or thermal imaging sensors to detect animals, humans, vehicles, really anything in your path that has a heat signature. The reach of these systems alerts you to hazards (like deer) in the road before your headlights are close enough to illuminate them. The objects detected are displayed on your windshield in their actual position which is really like being able to see in the dark. If you fail to notice the hazard you’ll get an audible warning (“wake up bozo, your going to cream that moose”.) Well it will at least beep.
This is pretty advanced stuff, Acura offers a system and BMW and Mercedes-Benz are leading the way.

Adaptive Headlamps
When you turn your car, you aren’t looking dead ahead, you are looking in to the turn to see what is coming around the corner.  Adaptive Headlights actually turn with you to better light the road ahead. I bet Knight Rider didn’t have that, but these vehicles do, the latest Audi A6, BMW 1, 3 & 7-Series, Cadillac Escalade and CTS-V, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti FX, Lincoln MKS, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

Which of these new technologies do you think is the coolest? I want them all!

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