Driver-assist technologies to boost safety

Leave the driving to your car
Leave the driving to your car © Diego Cervo/

For people with long daily commutes or who simply don't like driving, a robotic car may seem like a sort of automotive nirvana. Instead of keeping their eyes locked on the road, drivers could one day kick back and let computer technology do the work.

Cars with technologies that automate the driving also might be a big safety upgrade. Driver error was a contributing factor in more than 90 percent of all vehicular crashes, according to a study released in 2006 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Unfortunately, self-driving cars are probably a ways off; the NHTSA released a statement this year stating these cars weren't ready for public roads, except for vehicle testing.

But there are plenty of technologies that can help human drivers guide their cars more easily and safely through their daily routines available today that may one day form the building blocks of a fully automated car, says Andrew Smart, director of society programs and industry relations for SAE International.

"We have some vehicles which have multiple sensors with capabilities -- self-park, active cruise control, all these other elements," Smart says. "It's almost like engineering 'join the dots' because we have many sensors and many capabilities within the vehicle, and it's now a case of how we can link them together that makes sense."

Here are some of the most popular and advanced driver-assist technologies on the market today to help you until completely robotic cars make their way to your local dealership.


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