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Cool tech options for cars

9 cool tech options for your car
Cars that park themselves. Driver-passenger split screen computers. Night vision. Just a few of the innovations that make driving easier, safer and more fun.
Ford: Active Park Assist

Ford Flex and Escape, Lincoln MKS and MKT
Ford isn’t the first to take a crack at the self-parking car, but it is the first to make it genuinely useful. Ford’s Active Park Assist can actually maneuver your car into a parallel parking space in less time and with less hassle than doing it yourself.
And it’ll probably do a better job of getting the car into the space. Plus, it works in a variety of conditions. You don’t have to wait for a space on perfectly level ground with good lighting.
All you have to do is press a button and slow down to less than about 20 mph. Sonar sensors on the side of the car scan for a viable space. When one is found, just pull forward until the car tells you to stop. Then put it in reverse, take your hands off the steering wheel and back up slowly. The car handles the rest like a pro.
Of course, it’s up to you make sure the space is legal. Ford isn’t going to pay your parking tickets.
by Peter Valdes-DapenaM, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEXT: Mercedes-Benz: SplitView screen
Last updated November 13 2009: 4:49 PM ET
 

 

 
 
Find this article at:
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/autos/0911/gallery.top_car_tech/index.html

Mercedes-Benz: SplitView screen

Mercedes-Benz S-class in early 2010
By now, you’re probably familiar – even if you don’t have one yourself – with the computer screen many new cars have between the front seats. In order to protect the driver from distraction, such screens can’t show movies, for instance, or even allow you to enter navigation destinations or other complex jobs while the car is moving.
But what about the passenger? There’s little danger in distracting the passenger. In fact, the passenger might actually like some distraction. Starting in January, the Mercedes-Benz S-class will be available with a screen – a single screen – that shows separate views to the driver and the front-seat passenger. It’s sort of like those baseball cards that change images as you turn them in your hand, but the effect is much better.
Nissan: Around View Monitor

Infiniti EX35
Rearview back-up cameras are very useful, but aren’t much good when it comes to squeezing around, say, a double parked truck on a narrow street. Some vehicles now offer side and front-view cameras that can help, but they give distorted wide-angle images. That makes it difficult to judge just how close you are to gouging a fender or cracking a turn signal lamp.
The Around View Monitor, offered on Nissan’s Infiniti EX, uses simple computation to solve the problem. It takes images from four wide-angle cameras – one on each side and each end of the car – digitally flattens them and combines them into what appears to be an aerial view of your own vehicle. With this, you can easily see where your car is in relation to everything nearby. It is like having your own private satellite hovering over your car and beaming down images as you drive around that truck.
Ford: EcoBoost

Ford Taurus and Flex, Lincoln MKT and MKS
The company that invented the mass-market V8 engine in the 1930s – because Henry Ford insisted, for some reason, that cylinders must come in multiples of four – has finally come up with its replacement.
Ford’s EcoBoost V6 engines use two turbochargers combined with a complex computer-controlled fuel injection system to produce the power of larger V8 engines. What’s more, these EcoBoost engines use no more fuel than Ford’s non-boosted engines of the same size. And they’ll run just fine on regular gasoline, although you’ll need premium fuel for maximum power.
Another benefit of this system, besides the power output, is how quickly that power is delivered. Because the engines are relatively small, they get to full throttle more quickly, delivering their maximum pulling power almost as soon as you press down on the gas pedal.
Coming soon: EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines that deliver like V6s
9 cool tech options for your car
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BMW: Night vision

BMW 7-series
Night vision systems in cars would seem to be of limited use since most roads are well lit and, besides, other cars have lights on them, too. But pedestrians don’t, and that’s where BMW’s system proves its worth. Infrared cameras scan the road ahead and computers that are programmed to recognize human shapes point out pedestrians in or near the road.
The system not only recognizes people ahead. It also indicates what direction they’re heading. If people to the side of road are facing as if they’re about to step into your path, the car will alert you.
Toyota: Lane Keep Assist

Toyota Prius, Lexus HS250h
Plenty of cars today have what’s known as “active cruise control.” Unlike typical cruise control systems that allow you to simply set a speed, these systems use radar to scan the road ahead for slower moving vehicles. Your car will then automatically slow down to maintain a safe following distance.
A lof of cars also have lane departure warning systems. These use cameras to find lane markings on either side of the car. They emit a warning if you’re about to drift out of your lane.
Lexus’ Lane Keep Assist takes these systems a step further. When you’re using active cruise control, the Lexus LS 250h will also use its lane departure warning system to not only warn you that you are drifting but to actually correct your path. If your car starts to drift out of its proper lane, the car will gently steer itself back to the center.
It’s not too insistent, of course. If you really want to leave your lane without using a turn signal you just need to apply a little muscle to the steering wheel.
Ford: Work Solutions

Ford F-series trucks. E-series vans and Transit Connect vans
For people who simply drive their cars, and don’t practically live in them, Ford offers Sync, a system that ties your cell phone and MP3 player in with the car’s stereo and a very easy-to-use voice recognition system. But for those who use their truck or van as mobile offices and tool sheds, Ford now has a system called Ford Work Solutions.
One feature, called Tool Link, allows you to put radio-frequency ID tags on your tools and equipment. RFID scanners in the back of the van or the bed of the truck can then tell you whether you have all the tools you need for a given job or if you’ve left any behind at the job site.
The in-dash computer provides, as the name implies, a computer complete with spreadsheet, word processing and presentation software built right into the truck. There is also a remote keyboard. Besides all the onboard software, you can also access a computer somewhere else – say, the one on your desk at the office – right from the truck.
Additionally, there are systems for fleet management that allow you to check, from your truck, on all the other vehicles in your fleet.
GM: Pause-and-Play Radio

Various recently introduced or redesigned Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Buick models
This one of those handy features that you could have in your car for years and never notice, all the while needlessly missing hours of great radio shows and ball games.
On several of General Motors’ newer cars and SUVs, higher-end stereos have a Pause/Play button along with the usual controls. You’d probably just figure it is for the CD and MP3 players.
In fact, it has special powers. When you arrive at your home or the store and you’re in the middle of a radio show, you can just hit Pause. The sound stops as the car records the show. When you get back to the car up to a half hour later, you can just hit the button again and hear everything you missed.
Toyota: Remote touch

Lexus HS, RX
Luxury car makers have been trying for years to find elegant ways to interact with increasingly complex on-board navigation and entertainment systems. Up to now the choices have been knobs that you spin, wiggle and press, like on Mercedes-Benz or BMW, or touch screens, like those on Jaguars and various non-luxury brands.
The knobs can be confusing but the disadvantage of touch screens is, well, finger grease and, because they have no tactile feedback, they require you to look at the screen more.
The answer from Toyota’s Lexus division is the Remote Touch control. It works just like the familiar computer mouse you’re probably using now. Move it around until the pointer gets to something you want to click on, then press a button with your thumb.
It’s better than a mouse, however, because it allows you to actually “feel” the screen. As your pointer passes over something you can click on, it sticks there for a bit, as if you’re sliding an iron bar over a magnet. That way, your eyes can spend more time on the road and less on the screen.

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