A Car That Predicts Danger
How to avert crises in heavy traffic
Collision-avoidance systems have an Achilles’ heel: In heavy traffic, they are just as blind to risks down the road as drivers are, particularly when trucks or buses obscure the view. The Predictive Forward Collision Warning system on the 2015 Nissan Murano tries to address that. It monitors not only the vehicle directly ahead but the vehicle in front of that one too.
A bumper-mounted radar simultaneously tracks the car being followed and shoots beams underneath it to scan the road beyond. The system can see about 390 feet ahead and will beep and flash dashboard alerts if it detects a problem, such as a slow-moving or stopped car. Predictive Forward Collision Warning is part of Nissan’s greater Safety Shield system, which rings the car with four cameras and three radars to give drivers a 360-degree view of the roadway. The collision-warning capability debuted on the 2014 Infiniti Q50 (Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury division), but the Murano is the first Nissan to get it. The technology may trickle down to other models and become standard equipment. If that happens, other automakers will be likely to follow suit.
2015 Nissan Murano
Engine 3.5-liter V6
Fuel economy: 24 mpg (est.)
Price $29,000 (est.)
Car News You Should Care About
Google is working on an autonomous electric car that needs no steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedal. It will be restricted to speeds of 25 mph or less and have a range of 100 miles. Testing begins this summer.
In June, Tesla made all of its patents public in order to encourage more innovation in electric-vehicle technology. CEO Elon Musk wrote on the company website that with climate change looming, Tesla and the world would benefit from more electric cars.
Volkswagen is working on a 10-speed dual- clutch gearbox, which reportedly will be compatible with the company’s four-, five-, and six-cylinder engines. More gears allow for a more efficient engine across a broader range of gear ratios.
Arrow Electronics made a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C7 semiautonomous. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic, drove it around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway using head motion to steer and accelerate, and bite pressure on a sensor to brake.
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Popular Science.