illustration of a self driving car communicating with other self driving cars

In-car Technology to Look for in 2017

Modern vehicle technology is evolving at an accelerated pace, making strides to give drivers and passengers an increasingly more comfortable, luxurious, safe and convenient in-car experience. Mercury Insurance examines some of the newest features car buyers can look forward to seeing in new vehicles in the near future.

The Continued Journey towards Self-driving Vehicles

It’s no secret that auto manufacturers like Ford, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and more are in a race to get self-driving cars on the streets as early as 2019. To prepare for the reality of this automotive future, collision avoidance systems that were previously only available on luxury vehicles are now being offered on a wide variety models. The 2018 Toyota Camry is equipped with a standard feature Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) for example. The active safety suite includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. Some models will also come with a standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which will debut on the Cadillac CT6, is a semi-autonomous system that enables the car to drive itself on the highway. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot and Mercedes-Benz’ Drive Pilot (which will be launched in the new S-Class this summer), Super Cruise will use eye tracking to determine if drivers are paying attention to the road and will prompt them to remain alert.

Advances in Infotainment

A popular enhancement to infotainment systems is a larger screen size for better visibility for the driver. Kia goes a step further with its Stinger model: the height-adjustable display lets the driver see key driving information reflected on the windshield, including turn-by-turn navigation, speed, and audio and cruise control settings, along with Blind Spot Detection information.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey made its world debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in January and has multiple new infotainment system features, including:

  • An 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen display;
  • CabinWatch, a system that allows the driver and front seat passenger to monitor other passengers via the 8-inch display;
  • CabinTalk, which enables the driver to communicate with second- and third-row passengers through speakers and rear entertainment system headphones;
  • Connected Rear Entertainment System, which streams video to a ceiling-mounted 10.2-inch WSVGA Rear Entertainment System using the available in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi, public Wi-Fi or the user’s cellphone data plan. A “How Much Farther?” app lets passengers track the family’s trip progress on the screen; and
  • CabinControl, a downloadable app that allows users’ smartphones to control the rear entertainment system, and rear cabin heat and air conditioning, as well as send destinations to the embedded Honda navigation system.

Talking Cars

No, this isn’t a Knight Rider reference – in this case, the cars aren’t talking to the people driving them, but are actually communicating with each other. Cadillac CTS sport sedans will offer a system that allows them to share information about driving conditions like weather, speed, sudden braking, collisions, traffic lights and more. This is known as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, which is an important component of connected cars.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently conducting a Connected Vehicle Pilot Program in New York City and Tampa, Fla., to examine how connected vehicle technology works in real-world settings.

  • The New York City Department of Transportation Pilot is hoping to improve traveler and pedestrian safety in the city. Approximately 5,800 cabs, 1,250 MTA buses, 400 commercial fleet delivery trucks and 500 city vehicles will be equipped with V2V technology and more than 300 signaled intersections will be outfitted with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology to evaluate connected vehicle technology in the tightly-spaced intersections typical of a dense urban transportation system.
  • The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) Pilot is exploring how connected vehicle technology can relieve urban congestion, reduce collisions and enhance pedestrian safety. THEA will equip approximately 10 buses, 10 streetcars and 1,500 participants’ automobiles with wireless communication devices that can exchange traffic and safety information with other vehicles and with roadway infrastructure. Additionally, 500 pedestrians will have access to a smartphone application that the connected vehicles can also communicate with.