Driving a car in this day and age can be quite a challenge for many of us. As if the horrible traffic jams are not enough in the most populated city in all of Malaysia, there are other factors that make driving particularly difficult; take your pick the weather, road conditions, erratic or reckless drivers and so forth. Everyone tries to rush for some reasons or another, they cut lanes and take advantage of other more appropriate drivers. Often this aggressive behaivor results in road rage and causes accidents. But there are other common traits about Malaysian drivers such as excessive use of a smartphone, slow reaction, not being alert, and some health reasons due to lack of sleep, which causes lack of concentration on the road.
Fortunately, cars these days are well-equipped with driver assistance systems and loads of safety features. Common driving problems are often due to microsleep, distraction, unbuckled seat belt and more. With regards to assistance systems, you’ve probably heard of Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keep Assist and Attention Assist System. By 2020, more and more cars are fitted with a reverse camera instead of the usual all-around sensors, and even a front camera is now a standard component for premium makes. The cameras and assistance systems are there to aid the driver avert critical driving situations and prevent from accidents. Even with the equipment in place, the driver still has to keep alert at all times on the road, until the arrival of self-driving or autonomous vehicles in the next 10 years or so.
In the future, cars will become more interactive with driver and passengers and the onset of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will help make driving a whole lot easier. Innovative Automotive equipment companies like Bosch have developed a new interior monitoring system, with cameras and A.I., to monitor driver and passengers and ultimately make driving safer. This monitoring system alerts and warns drivers of drowsiness and distraction. It basically detects the condition of the driver and provides some driving assistance. How does it work? A camera integrated in the steering wheel detects when drivers’ eyelids are getting heavy, when they are distracted, and when they turn their head toward their passenger or the rear seats. Thanks to AI, the system draws the right conclusions from this information: it warns inattentive drivers, recommends a break if they are getting tired, or even reduces speed on its own.
Usually with the onboard driver assistance systems, there is an alert or warning sound when, for example, the car steers out of the lane. In time to come, alerts will sound in the case of distraction and drowsiness. Accordingly, Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Program) will include this standard requirement in the roadmap for overall vehicle safety and crash worthiness by 2025.
Voice recognition is now widely available as standard equipment, from entry to premium cars. It works with the car’s in-built application or program to obey the driver’s requests like question about the weather, desired destinations, topic searches online and few other basic requests. In the near future, mobile apps will come into play where driver and passengers can interact with the car and get more done.
In addition, electronics either A.I. or non-A.I. is one thing, the other is the vehicle shell or what’s known as the chassis. Car companies, with Euro NCAP 5-star rated cars, make sure their cars have a chassis with the highest level of high-tensile steel and reinforced aluminum to help driver and passengers survive crashes. Premium makes and sports cars use of light high-density steel, aluminum and carbon fiber to make cars lighter but don’t compromise on safety.
Once autonomous driving is possible, cars are expected to drive on their own but drivers still need to take control at times. This is where the monitoring system (mounted cameras) inside the car would come in handy and keep track of the driver and alerts when there are possible danger and road obstacles ahead.