Science Questions

Sun, 18th Dec 2005

Part of the show The Coriolis Effect and Christmas Questions for Dr Chris


Mark, via email asked:

When will there be radar controlled brakes on cars?


There are a number of different things that are coming on line now for cars. Volvo have got a system that literally shakes you awake if you show signs of driver fatigue. In other words, the car is sensitive to characteristic changes in driving habit that people show when they're nodding off at the wheel. Mercedes have got something called a crawl function. When you're in a traffic jam, it's really annoying having to keep braking and changing gear. What they've developed is a car that uses radar to detect the car in front and see how far it is away. When the car in front nudges forward, your car edges forward too. It makes driving in heavy traffic much more enjoyable. Research in air pilots has shown that if everything is automated for the pilots, their brains almost go to sleep. This makes them react badly in an emergency. If they're having to think all the time to control the plane, then if something bad happens they're already aware of what's going on.


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