In 1903, Ford introduced one of the first mass-produced family vehicles, the Model A. With a top speed of 45 mph, the Model A came in a two- and fourseater model with a three-speed transmission.

The available options were a roof (rubber for $30 or leather for $50), a rear door and a rear tonneau, the rear compartment containing two seats for passengers. To top everything off, the Model A came from the factory only in red.

Today, it’s hard to imagine driving a car without a radio or air conditioning, much less a roof (unless, of course, it’s a convertible). Recent or potential automotive technologies would have made early Model A drivers think they were in some sort of spaceship rather than a car. Keep in mind that not all this technology is available yet due to issues like cost, reliability and packaging.

The Adaptive Transmission Control (ATC) system is designed to recognize individual styles of driving and adapt the transmission shift parameters accordingly. There are two types of ATC: adaptive shift scheduling and adaptive shift quality control. Adaptive shift scheduling assesses driving style to determine when to upshift or downshift.

It also identifies uphill or downhill gradients and hard cornering. Adaptive shift quality control uses vehicle and environmental information to improve the quality of shifts. It also adjusts shift smoothness to suit driving style. The system gives drivers the responsiveness of a manual transmission without the manual shifting.

Advanced (smart) power windows are designed to stop closing and go back down when an obstruction is detected. The system works in one of two ways. It either detects changes in the electrical current and stops or reverses the window, or it relies upon a light curtain or infrared detector to stop the window before it comes into contact with an item. The system reduces the chance of getting stuck in the window and suffering an injury, especially with children and pets.

Delayed accessory power grants certain features of a vehicle power even after it has been turned off.

Delayed accessories include the radio, message center, power windows and power moonroof. The power remains on for at least 10 minutes after the key is turned off and as long as the front door isn’t opened.

Double locking makes it impossible to open a locked vehicle door from the inside or outside without a key or remote transmitter. Anyone attempting to gain entry into the vehicle must break a window and crawl though it. Once the key is turned in a specific sequence, the double lock is activated.

It is deactivated when the key is used to unlock the door. With keyless entry, the lock button is pressed twice. It is deactivated when the door is unlocked with the transmitter. The added security for parked vehicles is a major benefit of this feature.

Driver alertness monitoring sounds an alarm when the driver’s ability is impaired due to drowsiness, intoxication or inattention. There are other more complex systems that can sound warnings of impending collisions or veering off the road. The monitor works by using either a camera to detect lane markers when monitoring a driver’s ability to stay in their lane or infrared cameras to detect eye motions and compute the driver’s trends. Drivers are kept alert, which helps keep them and others on the road safe.

The all-weather/night vision or vision enhancement system provides drivers with information about objects in a vehicle’s path that cannot normally be seen at night or under adverse conditions.

Through radar, infrared lights or a receiver in front of the vehicle, data is fed into a computer that processes the information and then creates a displayed image in front of the driver. Data gathered from radar or infrared receivers mounted on the front of a vehicle is processed, and if something is detected, an image is displayed in front of the driver. Safety is much improved during adverse or nighttime conditions.

Other special features either currently available or possibly coming in the future include: Advanced (smart) restraint systems Anti-submarine seats Electronic toll collection Electronic message center Global window opening and closing Memory profile system Side vision aid or blind-spot detection system Remote lighting system Reverse and parking aid Theater lighting/illuminated entry Vehicle EmergencyMessaging System (VEMS).

While this technology sounds like major leaps forward, someday it too will be outdated and future drivers will be thinking how could those people possibly get by without such and such.

By Ronda Addy

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