Car tech that's making your drive better
From lane assist technology to improved connectivity, manufacturers are working on ways to help vehicles do more on the road while you're behind the wheel.
From watching your lane use to fully integrating with your smartphone, car manufacturers are developing more features to help you monitor your driving and make those hours behind the wheel easier. Of course, nothing replaces being an alert, non-distracted driver — but these eight techs can enhance everyone's experiences behind the wheel.
Car tech that improves safety
Driver assist system: While fully autonomous vehicles may be decades away from reality, carmakers are already using car-safety features in a range of vehicles to help improve safety. For example, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems can detect objects and pedestrians then signal an alarm; or they can signal an alarm then prevent or mitigate a collision. Similarly, lane-keeping assist systems can apply steering force or apply brake pressure as needed to assist the driver in preventing the vehicle from wandering out of a lane.
Blind spot warning: Sensors on some newer vehicles can detect vehicles in adjacent lanes, helping drivers to prevent collisions while changing lanes. These systems can also detect vehicles which are approaching from the side while in reverse in order to assist the driver in backing out of a parking space.
Teen driver technology: These systems help protect learning drivers by preventing the car from moving unless the driver's seat belt is fastened. They also let parents set speed warnings or limits and even cap the volume level of the stereo.
Car tech that enables entertainment
Virtual reality: Some carmakers are developing virtual reality programs that turn a car ride into an exciting virtual "game" for passengers only. They may include both 2D and 3D "views" that follow along with the car's change in direction but project the user into an adventure — flying, for example.
Gesture recognition: This technology is becoming mainstream. It allows you to use gestures to control some car systems, such as stereos; simply wave a hand versus turning a button or touching a screen.
Car tech that ensures connectivity
Smartphone integration: In the past, new in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems required updates and were often not compatible with other tech. To help, carmakers are creating their own in-vehicle solutions to integrate with features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which provide a simplified version of your smartphone screen on dashboard displays.
Wireless phone charging: Charging pads in new cars are eliminating the need for cords.
Car tech that enhances comfort
Massage seats: The average American commuter spends 54 hours a year stuck in traffic, so this amenity is definitely a "nice-to-have" (rather than "must-have") feature. Massaging seats have long been a feature of some luxury vehicles, but they're now starting to make their way into more mainstream models.