Smarter, safer, self-driving: 4 (almost) autonomous cars you can own today

autonomy today fewer crashes tomorrow five current cars with autonomous tech hWe’ve been reporting on a lot of up-and-coming autonomous vehicle technologies as of late and these stories got us to thinking: “How many vehicles on sale right now already feature some autonomous safety features and technologies?” The deeper we dug, the more tech we found.

We whittled the list down to the four vehicles in no particular order with autonomous tech that impressed us most.

2013 Lexus LS

The 2013 Lexus LS that debuted last October is chockfull of tech, including safety technology. Like most luxury automakers, Lexus includes adaptive cruise control, which uses information gathered by a front-mounted millimeter-wave radar system to adjust vehicle speed based upon the traffic ahead.

Unlike some automakers, however, Lexus uses this technology to also prevent or lessen the effects of a collision. In a split second the vehicle looks at vehicle speed, obstacles in front of the car, steering angle, and yaw-rate to assess collision likelihood. Should the system determine a collision is imminent, the LS will increase the force of the braking system as soon as the driver applies it. It will also instantly increase the steering ratio, giving the driver a better chance of steering out of the potential collision.

When in the city, two forward-facing stereo cameras in addition to the millimeter-wave radar system monitor the road ahead, specifically watching for pedestrians crossing in front of the path of the vehicle. This system is called Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS). Should the APCS detect a pedestrian or nonmetallic object, it will warn the driver with a beep and a flashing light. If the driver does not react and the vehicle continues to close in on the object, the vehicle will gently apply the vehicles brakes, even bringing the vehicle to a full stop if travelling no more than 24 mph.

autonomy today fewer crashes tomorrow five current cars with autonomous tech lexus ls 460

2013 Volvo S60

Volvo has always been obsessed with safety, so it’s no surprise it was the first automaker to unveil Pedestrian Detection and City Safety systems.

City Safety is a system that first debuted on the XC60 crossover but has been included on the S60 as well. Additionally, the S60 sedan has received another safety technology called Pedestrian Detection.

These systems are similar to the LS but a few years ahead. First debuted in 2010, Pedestrian Detection was a first of its kind. Up to 22 miles per hour, the system uses two forward facing cameras and a radar system to detect both vehicles and pedestrians. Should both radar and cameras detect a pedestrian crossing in front of the car, a collision is calculated as imminent, and the driver does not apply the brake, the Pedestrian Safety system will brake the car with Full Auto Brake, bringing the vehicle to a complete and sudden stop.

The Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake will activate above 22 mph, however it will not be able to fully bring the vehicle to a stop above that speed. It will slow the vehicle as much as possible, thereby limiting the damage of the collision.

While this system will detect pedestrians up to 32 inches tall and cars in front of the S60, it will not recognize, say, a bear or a moose. Volvo designers explained that the programming for vehicle and specifically pedestrian detection was so complicated that programming for another creature with a different radar signature would have been unrealistic. Volvo does have plans, however, to expand the repertoire of its Pedestrian Detection system in the future to detect all kinds of obstacles.

autonomy today fewer crashes tomorrow five current cars with autonomous tech 2013 volvo s60

2013 Mercedes S-Class

While the next generation S-Class will have more autonomous safety technologies than you can shake a stick at, the current one only has a few. Mercedes’ technology is called PRE-SAFE and the original form was debuted in 2002. Over the years, it’s changed a bit to include more safety and more technology.

In its current form, the PRE-SAFE works in tandem with the DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control, which works similarly to the Lexus LS system detailed above. It uses short-range 24GHz radar that sweeps the first 33 yards of the road ahead in a fan-shaped 80-degree pattern, working in tandem with a narrower nine-degree beam of 77GHz radar. As Mercedes puts it, “the two radar frequencies complement each other to cover a full range of more than 160 yards – more than one and half football fields.”

When PRE-SAFE detects a collision, the system will produce three warning sounds. At that point if the collision is not avoided by the driver, PRE-SAFE will automatically partially brake the vehicle 1.6 seconds before the collision. Should the driver be unable to avoid the collision at that point, PRE-SAFE will then apply full braking force 0.6 seconds before collision. Mercedes calls this an “electronic crumple zone.”

autonomy today fewer crashes tomorrow five current cars with autonomous tech 2013 mercedes s class

2013 Infiniti M

For now it’s called the M. But by next year, it’ll be called the Q70, and it has a rather distinctive autonomous safety technology called Blind Spot Intervention or BSI.

BSI is paired with the Blind Spot Warning (BSW) system within the optional technology package on the Infiniti M. Infiniti brags that BSI is a world first. Using the same sensors as the BSW system, BSI watches the lane markers to see if the vehicle is going to leave the lines. Should BSI detect the Infiniti crossing the lane lines and another vehicle is detected in that space, BSI will flash warning lights on the instrument cluster, emit audible warning sounds to the driver, and – if necessary – apply the brakes on one side of the vehicle, helping the driver center the car back into the lane. Notably, the BSI system will also activate whether or not the turn signal has been activated.

autonomy today fewer crashes tomorrow five current cars with autonomous tech 2013 infiniti m

Vintage Electric readies the Roadster Speed Merchant, a souped-up ebike

Vintage Electric introduced the latest in its line of retro-styled premium performance ebikes for fall 2019. The Vintage Roadster gets styling cues from board track racing motorcycles and its power from a 1,123-watt battery.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are some of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

Infiniti’s Formula One-inspired Project Black S may enter production

The Infiniti Project Black S is a Q60 luxury coupe enhanced with a Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrain. The 563-horsepower car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in under four seconds, according to Infiniti.

Toyota raises the curtain on 2020 Corolla Nightshade Editions

The 2020 Toyota Corolla SE sedan and hatchback with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) will be available in Nightshade Editions, joining the Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna with the blacked-out trim style option.

Here’s why your Uber or Lyft car always seems to be a Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars sold in the United States, and not just with retail buyers. Uber and Lyft drivers love the Camry for its reliability, according to a new report.

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

Launching in 2020, the Infiniti QX55 will be a crossover coupe similar to models that have proven successful for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti said the QX55 will have styling influenced by its early 2000s FX.

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.

The Bugatti Centodieci is only possible because of the latest design tech

Bugatti is celebrating its 110th birthday by releasing a limited-edition hypercar named Centodieci. It's based on the Chiron, but its engine makes 1,600 horsepower, and it's a tribute to the EB110 released during the 1990s.

Discover the engineering Easter eggs in the new 2020 Ford Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer received a ground-up overhaul, with major changes that include a new hybrid powertrain option. But even the engineering details of the new Explorer are worth checking out.

Type S concept marks the return of sportier Acura models

Not seen since 2008, the Acura Type S once signified the sportiest Acura models sold in North America. Acura will revive Type S with a concept car debuting at Monterey Car Week, followed by two new production models.

Beach to Baja: Dune buggies in the news, from VW ID concept to McQueen’s Manx

It was a big week for dune buggies. VW revealed an electric concept vehicle, the ID. BUGGY. Steve McQueen's Thomas Crown Affair buggy is headed to auction. Glickenhaus revealed the Baja Boot, a street-legal Baja-racing-capable dune buggy.

Starman on Tesla Roadster makes first orbit around sun, braces for loneliness

Starman and his Tesla Roadster, sent by SpaceX to outer space last year, have completed their first orbit around the sun. The people on Earth may be able to catch a glimpse of the cherry-red electric vehicle on November 2020.