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Op-Ed: New car technology buffs up protection, inside and out

By Kimberly Reynolds     Feb 19, 2014 in Technology
Technological improvements in the automobile industry are both obvious and sublime. New innovations protect the car and improve performance.
“While technology is being continuously updated to improve automotive performance, until recently very little has been done to help owners maintain that new car look,” says Marty Raymondo of Xzilon.
Most of the technological progress in the auto industry has centered on the power train, interior controls and entertainment. Now, the focus has shifted to the exterior, and there is much more to the advances than meets the eye.
Rubber Meets Road
Not since the invention of the wheel has there been such a dramatic change in the way we get from point A to point B. New tire designs and materials have extended the life of the tire while reducing weight and increasing traction. Run-flat technologies support better vehicle control in the event of a blowout.
Kevlar, the same fabric used in bulletproof vests, is providing protection against tire punctures while delivering unparalleled performance. Driving stability has been enhanced with "TripleTred" design that incorporates three distinct tread patterns to tackle an assortment of traction challenges.
Innovative Rims
Following World War II, the advances in military technology transferred to the automotive world. Magnesium and aluminum alloys created rims that were lightweight and robust. The wheels of today build on this by adding composite materials and honeycombed design.
Lighter wheels led to fuel efficiency as well as improved handling. Reducing the weight of the unsupported suspension components, like the wheels and tires, the suspension system reacts faster and more adeptly to road bumps and imperfections, keeping the tires constantly in contact with the road surface.
Lighting The Way
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have changed exterior and interior lighting. The LEDs deliver outstanding illumination while extending bulb life and reducing power consumption. These new lighting systems run cooler and are more compact giving designers more possibilities on exterior styling.
Advanced Aerodynamics
As automotive technologies improve, the top speed of vehicles has escalated accordingly. The aerodynamic performance of the vehicle becomes critical to providing a safe and stable ride. Passive or active drag controls are improving the performance design resulting in increased stability and increased fuel efficiency.
These technological enhancements to aerodynamics are being incorporated into the rear wing and front spoiler designs on new vehicles. This futuristic styling will be featured on most models in the coming years.
Composite Bodies
The introduction of a carbon-fiber composite body structure to new vehicles is changing the rules for automotive design and performance. By reducing vehicle weight a composite fiber body can improve fuel economy thus increasing range of a tank of gas. With lighter overall mass, designers can address performance, size, and cost challenges.
These new composite fiber bodies balance once numerous competing necessities such as the surface finish, ease of repair, structural crash performance and packaging constraints. The simplicity of contour shaping gives designers an almost unlimited canvass for creative and efficient styling.
Exterior Vehicle Display
Most new cars will soon be equipped with video display systems that allow the driver to have a virtually unlimited view of the exterior surroundings. Multiple onboard cameras are joined together to create a 360-degree sight line. In addition, infrared sensors are being installed to notify of potential collisions or unseen objects.
Fujitsu Laboratories, a leader in advanced information system technologies, has developed a 3D image synthesis technology for advanced driver-assistance systems. The new technology, can display, without distortion and with an accuracy level within two centimeters, people and objects within close proximity of the vehicle that pose a risk of collision.
Pedestrian Safety
Most auto safety features are designed to keep the occupants safe and secure in the event of an accident. Airbags are now standard equipment while reinforced metal and composite fiber side panels offer increased side impact protection.
Technological advances have now extended beyond the passenger to the pedestrian. Volvo, one of the world’s leaders in automotive safety, has introduced external airbags on some models. These airbags are placed at the base of the windshield and deploy from a hollow that expands upward in the event of a collision with a pedestrian.
Look Good Longer
While car owners cannot keep their showroom car new forever, most strive to keep it looking pristine. New technologies formerly only available for the aviation industry are aiding in that endeavor. One such product is Xzilon, an appearance protection system which offers increased protection from paint damage and minor dents. Additionally, the Xzilon system improves the life of the exterior finish, so the owner can admire their vehicle for years to come.
Technology has contributed to making the operation of a motor vehicle safe, comfortable and increasingly less expensive. This technology, with innovative companies like Volvo, Fujistu, and Xzilon leading the way, is turning the industry inside out.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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