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
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.
Cars

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.