New computer, GPS, and sensor technology makes a wide range of new safety gear possible in cars. The newest cars know where they are and what objects are around them. They can warn the driver about obstacles and even listen to commands, freeing the driver from looking away from the road for a button. Here are a number of high-tech safety features we've seen in cars.
The 2008 Volvo S80 has forward-looking radar tied into the cruise control system, letting the car slow down from its set speed when it sees a car in front. Here, the car is set to 75mph, but slower traffic makes the adaptive cruise control bring the speed down to 60mph.
Night View Assist on the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 uses beams of infrared light from projectors in the car's headlights to illuminate up to 500 feet of the road ahead. The resulting scene is captured by an infrared camera mounted near the rearview mirror, which then creates a gray-scale image of the road ahead and sends it to the high-resolution display in the CL550's instrument panel.
The Side Assist feature in the 2007 Audi Q7 turns on a light on the side of the mirror frame when a car is in the Q7's blind spot. This light flashes if you use the turn signal to indicate a move in that direction.
Navigation systems not only give your precise location, they also include nearby emergency services. For example, if you needed to get to a hospital, the car would tell you how to get there. This navigation screen is from the 2008 Land Rover LR2.
The buttons on the steering wheel of the 2007 Acura TSX let the driver issue verbal commands to make phone calls, set the navigation system, or control audio settings, all while keeping his or her eyes on the road.
This display in the 2007 GMC Yukon Denali lets the driver see the tire pressure. The driver can cycle the display to show front and rear tires. Tire pressure monitoring systems are required in vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2007.
Modern all-wheel-drive systems can move drive power to the wheels that need it most, improving traction in slippery conditions. The 2007 Suzuki SX4 lets you switch between two-wheel and all-wheel drive, or even lock the differential for areas with particularly bad traction.