There’s no questioning new cars on the road today are far more advanced than whose when we all learned how to drive.
The proverbial “this isn’t your grandpa’s truck” is true by a country mile. There’s nothing wrong with Grandpa’s truck, it’s just there’s a ton of very high tech components, computers, wiring, sensors, etc. built into today’s vehicles.
Several decades ago, we saw things like seatbelts, anti-lock brake systems, air bags, and HID lighting systems. At each of those junctures, vehicles became increasingly complex, safer, and, well, let’s be honest, more expensive to purchase and repair.
Since then, new cars are coming standard with a variety of features designed to either provide the driver with information or perform actions for the driver. Enter ADAS.
What is ADAS?
ADAS is defined as advanced driver-assistance systems. In totality, this is the term we give to all of the “bells and whistles” cars have today to provide assistance to the driver.
ADAS uses electronics like sensors, radar, and cameras to help the vehicle understand its environment.
Before ADAS, a vehicle couldn’t “tell you” you were close to backing into something you shouldn’t. Post-ADAS, the car will now either alert you–likely with either a flashing light, alarm, or both–to a potential hazard, or bring the car to an abrupt stop altogether.
The flashing light or alarm is simply a warning, or more passive system. Meaning, the driver still needs to react to the road conditions around him or her. These types of systems may have “warning” in their name.
If the vehicle comes to a stop on its own, then that’s a more active system. These systems may have “active” in the name.
Ford has a great 30-second video on just this. In the post-ADAS world, these sorts of technologies help keep people safer and avoid tragedy.
In either a “warning” or “active” system, they’re designed to help save lives.
Now that we have a very high-level understanding of ADAS, the truth is, things like traction control and anti-lock brakes can be considered ADAS. At their root, they accept inputs from the world around them and respond on the driver’s behalf.
So, where do we think the world of ADAS will eventually go?
We can only predict, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the concept of vehicle-to-vehicle communication launches vehicular travel into a whole new stratosphere. If the current implementation of ADAS is already beginning to understand the world around it and responding, we’re not too far away from cars beginning to tell each other how close together they are, or share their speeds with each other, or move forward or backwards in response to another car getting too close, etc. Options become endless at that point.
One really good use case for vehicle-to-vehicle communication can help with traffic flow. Frustrated in your morning commute because you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic? The reality is, the only reason why that is a “thing,” is because cars don’t share information. If one car moves up 24” than the car behind it can move forward 24” and so on. But, since drivers today have to acknowledge movement, lightly lift their foot off the brake, and reapply brakes requires human intervention.
Some day in the future, don’t be surprised if you’re flying down the road at a smooth 65 MPH and you’re literally inches away from the car in front of and behind you. That would require a more version of ADAS than we have today and more vehicles equipped with the technology for something like that work. Truth is, we’re several years away from something like this. On top of that, most technologies are introduced as options on high-end vehicles, made standard in those same vehicles, then trickle into the rest of the vehicle fleet.
ADAS won’t have us driving inches away from the car ahead of us tomorrow, but we can all agree that it’s benefits far outweigh its expense. The other unintended benefit… we can all (finally!) parallel park!