Many of Continental’s demonstrated safety technologies use existing equipment on the market, but the supplier is integrating them more, he says. “There are ways to continually enhance systems, especially by bringing them together.”            

Also shown during the so-called Winter Tech Show Event (although it took place on the second day of spring):

  • Autonomous emergency braking coupled with windshield-mounted sensors to provide high-pressure dynamics and reduced stopping distance when the vehicle brakes on its own.
  • A blind-spot-detection system that extends the warning zone beyond the vehicle if it is towing. Short-range radar would include a trailer in the blind spot coverage to assist in collision-free lane changing.
  • Auto-assisted safe backing is activated if the driver in reverse fails to stop to prevent hitting someone or something behind the vehicle. In such situations, the vehicle automatically stops.
  • Cross-traffic braking automatically slows down or stops a vehicle at drive-off if cross-traffic is detected in front of or behind a vehicle that is, say, pulling out of a parking spot with vehicles on both sides blocking driver visibility.
  • A system that makes suspension-tuning adjustments based on the load in or atop the vehicle. It is an integration of the air-suspension and electronic-braking systems. The result is better stability and handling.

With all of the demonstrated technology, the driver can override the systems and regain control of the car. That reserved right is important, McClain says.

“We think we are on to something with a lot of this stuff,” he says.

Such technology represents more movement toward fully autonomous cars. Continental estimates 2025 as the advent of those.

In the meantime, McClain addresses a current issue: driver irritation with warning systems that, while well-intended, are viewed as jarring and sometimes unnecessary, such as the activation of lane-drifting beeps when an alert driver merely is changing lanes.       

Effective human-machine interfacing is holistic, he says. “It makes sure the driver understands the alert. It needs to tell the driver when to intervene, get back in the loop or look here. There’s an optimal way to offer that without a lot of nuisances and disorienting information.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com