13 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Automotive safety technology is pretty easy to wrap your head around, but advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are a little harder to pin down. At this point, the debate over whether anti-lock brakes are really necessary is pretty much nonexistent, but most technologies classified as ADAS are still seen as luxuries or even amusing curiosities.

The issue is that advanced driver assistance systems are systems and features that provide a driver with essential information, automate difficult or repetitive tasks, with the goal of engendering an overall increase in car safety for everyone on the road. Since these systems are so varied, it isn't always easy to see how some of them actually relate to safety.

Some advanced driver assistance systems have been around for a long time, and they have already proven time and time again to result in an improved driving experience or better overall road safety. GPS navigation, for example, has become increasingly common in OEM infotainment systems since first being introduced in the 1990s. You won't find a lot of drivers longing for the days of paper maps, but other advanced driver technologies seem a little more esoteric.

Many advanced driver assistance systems are right on the bleeding edge of emerging automotive technologies, and the jury is actually still out on some of them. Some of these systems will have the staying power to stick around, and you can expect to see at least a few of them in your next car. Others may fizzle and disappear or be replaced by better implementations of the same basic idea. Since ADAS rely on electronics and often include firmware elements, the development of these cutting-edge systems is governed by international safety standards like IEC-61508 and ISO-26262.

Advanced driver assistance systems are tweaked every year, but here are thirteen different options that you might want to check out the next time you're in the market for a new car.

Adaptive cruise control

adaptive cruise control
Image courtesy of Radcliffe Dacanay, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

This advanced driver assistance technology is especially useful on the highway, where drivers otherwise have to constantly monitor their cruise control systems for safety reasons. With advanced cruise control, a vehicle will automatically slow down or speed up in response to the actions of the car or truck in front of it. Most of these systems automatically shut off below a certain speed threshold, but others can even be used in stop and go traffic. More »

adaptive headlights
Image courtesy of Brett Levin, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Adaptive light control systems are designed to help drivers see better and further in the darkness. This advanced driver assistance technology allows the headlights to swivel and rotates to better illuminate the roadway through corners and in other circumstances. More »

Automatic braking

automatic braking
Image courtesy of Bryn Pinzgauer, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Automatic braking is a precrash technology that is designed to reduce the severity of high-speed collisions in the event of a lapse of driver attention. While some automatic braking systems can actually prevent collisions, they’re typically meant to slow the vehicle to the point where less damage is caused and fatalities are unlikely. More »

Automatic parking

parallel parking sans automatic parking technology
Image courtesy of thienzieyung, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Automatic parking systems vary from one OEM to another, but most of them are designed to help a driver parallel park. Some of these systems can actually perform the entire job automatically, and others simply provide advice so that the driver knows when to turn the steering wheel and when to stop.More »

Blind spot detection

blind spot detection
Image courtesy of bluematrix, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Blind spot detection systems use a variety of sensors to provide a driver with vital information that would be difficult or impossible to come by through any other means. 

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