For quite long now, cars have been more than capable of protecting themselves against theft. Car safety has been one of the most important issues in automotive research, innovation and technical development. It is no longer just one of the many features we find on the car but is one of “the” features that set it apart from competition on technical and intelligence parameters.
Let’s face it, a car isn’t something one can lose, fret over having lost it, and get another one. In some regions, you can practically leave your keys in your car, go watch a movie, or be at a ball game, or a date or anything that keeps you away for a while, and be back to find every single thing in its place, to say the least – your car and the keys. Other places require much more than a locked greenhouse, and modern security systems run the safety game using connectivity to the onboard computer or in some cases, the ecu (engine control unit) of the car.
It has been quite a while since remote locking, engine immobilizers and loud alarms have been on and about in cars, and the arena of car security and safety has just started expanding.
Unlock cars, use horn remotely
Amongst some of the most advanced car security systems available in production cars around the world, General Motors’ Onstar has some of the most amazing features to offer. OnStar systems can operate over any digital cellular network in the United States, and its users can contact the 24 hours a day service with the push of a button. Any mishap or crash allows the sensors embedded in the airbag systems or other parts in the interior to automatically place a remote distress signal to an operator about the condition and location of the vehicle and arrange emergency response. OnStar can also unlock cars and allow one to use the horn remotely, when trying to locate the car in a parking space or elsewhere.
Another popular example of security systems is LoJack – a system that employs radio tracking for the recovery of stolen or misplaced vehicles. Since GPS receivers require a clear line of transmission to and from an orbiting satellite, systems like LoJack, have an advantage where GPS fails, since it employs transceivers mounted on various areas on the car, and a particular VIN number identification system connected to the local or state database.
The BMW Road Assist, is a state of the art security and online response system designed and installed by BMW in their production models and is much similar to the likes of OnStar. The BMW assist consists of some basic security functions like an automatic collision detection, remote line of communication with a BMW response specialist and remote door unlocking. The company also boasts of the systems ability to work hand in glove with law enforcement agencies for the recovery of stolen cars, since it uses a GPS system for tracking and cellular one for communications.
Drunk driving warning message
The next one is definitely ahead of its time though its been just about time that it shall be introduced shorty. Nissan’s Vision 2015 as the car maker’s integrated security system is called, allows sensors in the car seat, steering wheel and gear knob to detect the presence of alcohol through the driver’s sweat and perspiration and immobilize the vehicle. A camera trained on the driver’s face can identify symptoms of sleep or drowsiness by watching the eyes, or track unaccounted lane drifting, and use a voice alert system through the speakers or tighten the seatbelt as a wake-up call to the nodder. While the interesting and intelligent features have quite some time before they make it to production cars, Nissan has already incorporated a drunk driving warning message into its present navigation system.
It isn’t long before our cars, along with being self-driven, would also become self-aware. We can happily look forward to cars equipped with artificially intelligent safety and navigation systems and the things shown in our movies aren’t very far from becoming reality, where our cars will be more than capable of protecting not just themselves but also their passengers and those around and outside it. On board artificial intelligence would enable them to make split second decisions, prevent thefts, stop accidents before they even happen, and initiate a “paradigm shift” in the experience of driving.