Technological advances impact us across the breadth of our lives, and most of the time the everyday changes we notice are on a superficial level – a sleek new phone, a TV with even better resolution, an app which makes it easier to order take-out. But every so often you hear about a tech advancement which stuns you with its potential for positive outcomes.
I was listening to the Daily Drive podcast from Automotive News earlier this month, which was discussing a fascinating new image sensing technology from PreAct Technologies. I won’t dare to delve into the nitty gritty details, but on a basic level this company utilizes sensors and raw computing power to monitor 360 degrees around a car in motion. Their system rapidly processes these images and can predict/sense up to 600 milliseconds before a collision is about to occur. The sensors can then trigger safety systems such as:

  • Active suspension, which can move the vehicle body so the frame absorbs more of the impact.
  • Large multi-stage airbags, which can be safely deployed without explosive force, providing more occupant coverage.
  • Safety restraints which can put the occupant in an optimum protective position.
  • Active seats, which can move away from the impact.
  • External airbags, which can dampen the force of the impact.

Right now safety systems such as airbags have to wait until the crash starts to occur – the crash sensor is triggered by the impact and the systems react. But by speeding up the systems to engage before the collision, the outcome of the crash is mitigated. Their studies show that even engaging the safety systems 250 milliseconds before the crash has substantial benefits for the victims of the accident.
This is early tech and it hasn’t rolled out to production vehicles yet, but the idea is amazing: it is tech which can save lives and make driving that much safer.