By monitoring driving conditions--and the driver's condition--tomorrow's cars may help with the driving. Karen Hopkin reports.
If you grew up watching the Jetsons, you probably wonder why we’re not all zooming around in flying cars that automatically take us where we want to go…no “driving” necessary. Well, it’ll probably be a few more years before self-navigating hovercraft are part of your daily commute. But scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are working to make today’s cars smarter about responding to your needs.
Most cars now come equipped with an onboard computer that collects information about how the vehicle is running. The Sandia scientists are making use of that computer to analyze what the car is up to…whether it’s navigating a WINDING road or passing a slower vehicle…and how the driver is handling things. The researchers rigged a fleet of vehicles with sensors that recorded information about braking, steering, acceleration and even the brain activity of the people doing the driving.
What’s in it for you? Integrating such data, a Smart Car could, for example, hold incoming cell phone calls on a mountain road until you’ve successfully nagivated that series of steep switchbacks. Not the space age technology we dreamed of, perhaps. but if the Jetson’s flying car was so smart, why’d it keep taking George to Spacely Sprockets?