Cooley On Cars
Car Tech 101: What's next for blind-spot techBrian Cooley tells you how blind-spot tech works, why it's important and where it's headed.
[MUSIC] Blind spot detection systems use sensors that monitor nearby lanes, and determine when other vehicles approach. Or enter a vehicle's blind spot. Blind spot tech is getting pretty common. In fact, about three quarters of all new cars in the 2014 model year at least offered it. [MUSIC] Blind spot technology typically uses radar in the 24 gigahertz or 76 gigahertz bands. Then they report back to you with either a beep. Or a buzz, or, or some kind of a chime or a light going off somewhere. Any number of manners to tell you, don't go there. [MUSIC] But a bit of buzz-kill has arisen as groups like the Triple A and the Highway Loss Data Institute have found that blind-spot tech is good, but certainly not perfect. Sometimes warnings come too late. [MUSIC] Fast closing vehicles may be missed. And all those buzzes, dings and lights it generates are starting to all sound like other systems. [MUSIC] So here's some technologies coming to get us to blind spot 2.0. [MUSIC] Infinity and Mercedes are among pioneers in active blind spot technology. It guides your car back from a misguided lane change that would put you into a car in your blind spot and likely does so faster than you could even sort out what's flashing and pinging and why. Blind spot assist can take active measures by applying the brakes on the wheels on the opposite side of the vehicle. The vehicle is steered out of the danger zone. Subaru's Lane Change Assist is a derivative of blind spot tech, that warns you if a car is coming up from the rear side, at a rate that would result in both of you being in the same place at the same time as you change lanes. If you switch lanes or signal to change lanes, and Lane Change Assist. Senses that the approaching vehicle is still there. It gives you a flashing warning to further alert you to the vehicle's presence. Further out, Jaguar Land Rover is working on a concept of putting display technology is a car's B pillars, making them virtually transparent, so you can see over there where a car along side might otherwise hide. [MUSIC] Now all car makers by their blind spot. Equipment. The hardware they put in their cars from one of the same handful of suppliers. So it's not different at that level but the car maker customizes how sensitive it is and how it alerts you. Alright, so three things to look for in that respect. How visible are the lights, or how audible are the indicators? How they chose to alert you. Big lights or little lights? We have little tiny indicators on this Volkswagen, virtually useless. Useless. Some other cars put huge ones here in the a pillar. Others will give you tones or beeps. Others will actually vibrate the wheel. Where are those lights positioned? Are they in a place that naturally makes you think blind spot issue? You wanna find one that you feel is gonna be effective. For you. And how is the blind spot tech calibrated on the given make and model of car? It varies. Test drive the car. Does it seem to pick up a car that you really miss, or is it warning you about cars that you would obviously see? I've seen both of. Interesting side note: a paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers back in 1995, said that if you adjust your side mirrors out further, so they're pitched out more, you actually would eliminate the blind spot. Have them, this paper says, just barely overlap the view you have in your rear view mirror most of us tilt in our side mirrors a lot so we can see our own car. This paper says don't worry about that. [INAUDIBLE] come out and you'll actually see everything. And on many late model cars you probably noticed the increasing prevalence of these wide angle regions out toward the far ends of the mirrored glass. And it's also aimed at helping to eliminate the blind spot wherever you've got the mirror pointed. More car tech de mystified right now at CNETOncars.com, click on car tech 101.