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Tech Talk: Upcoming Features to Keep an Eye out For


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5 Upcoming Car Technologies and What It All Means for You

By Chris Chase –

There's no avoiding science fiction tie-ins when it comes to a discussion of future automotive technology. For decades, sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows have been full of vehicles that drive and/or fly themselves while their occupants relax, conduct business, or plot to establish a new world order.

But not every piece of near-future car technology is ripped from the pages of a William Gibson novel. Sure, autonomous driving is just around the corner, but so are a number of other concepts that promise to make our cars safer, as well as more efficient and convenient.

Here's a look at five high-tech automotive features you might find in your next vehicle.

Advanced Airbags

Airbags have become so ubiquitous in new cars that it's easy to forget they exist – until you need them. Thankfully, automakers are still aware of the important role airbags play in mitigating car-crash injuries.

Both Honda and Hyundai have developed new airbag designs they say will do an even better job of protecting you from injuries in a wider range of collision scenarios.

Honda's innovation is a three-chamber airbag design that catches your head like a baseball mitt and supports it so that it can't slide away and strike another, less-forgiving part of the car. It also reduces the rotational forces exerted on the head in a typical car crash and airbag deployment, which the automaker says will lessen the likelihood of concussions and brain damage.

Hyundai's idea is an airbag that can protect you and your passengers from more than one impact. The South Korean carmaker's research showed that nearly one-third of crashes are "multi-collision" incidents where one car strikes (or is struck by) another and then careens into either a third vehicle or a stationary object.

The technology will be designed to work very quickly to assess where people are in the cabin (after all, you're unlikely to remain comfortably seated in the moments following a crash) and then work out how to best protect them from a possible second impact.

Hyundai says this tech could prove especially useful in a rear-end collision. While such a crash won't trigger the airbags in the vehicle that has been struck, a severe-enough rear impact could push a vehicle into another obstacle with enough force to make airbags necessary, right when the people in the car may be out of position to be properly protected by ordinary airbag deployment.

Honda says you'll be able to buy cars fitted with its "catcher's glove" airbag in 2020, while Hyundai Motor Group says its new airbag tech will be offered in Hyundai and Kia vehicles "in the future."

What this means for you

In the immediate future, these new airbags will reduce the likelihood of life-threatening injuries caused by car crashes. But these innovations will also have applications for autonomous vehicles. In late 2018, a Toyota study revealed that it's harder to predict how the occupants of a self-driving car will react to a potential collision, making it more difficult to protect them. More advanced airbag designs and deployment systems will be better able to prevent serious injuries by adapting to a wider variety of pre- and post-impact scenarios.

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