Driving in bad weather can be a hazardous and stressful proposition, even for the most seasoned driver. But when crummy conditions hit, today’s connected cars may be able to do more than just keep you warm and dry. Using sophisticated computers, onboard sensors, and wireless internet connectivity, smart car tech is offering drivers and passengers a whole new level of potential safety and convenience.
Designed for use on the next generation of autonomous vehicles, car manufacturers are literally reinventing the wheel with their smart road tires. Tire makers are testing treads that respond to roads in real-time — staying hard and stiff in dry conditions or becoming more absorbent when it’s wet (a protection against dangerous aquaplaning). Tire makers are also working on connectivity, with sensors that can send real-time climate and road conditions to a car’s onboard computer, adjusting everything from tire inflation to stopping distance, depending on the weather.
A sudden downpour or unexpected splash on your windshield can be a terrifying experience, sometimes obscuring your vision for seconds (or longer). A new breed of connected windshield wiper aims to help you see clearer. Smart wipers use rain sensor technology to automatically turn on and off at the exact right speed and can even anticipate your future wiping needs.
If you’ve ever tried to navigate your vehicle through a torrential downpour at night, then you’ll know firsthand just how bad visibility can be. Headlights reflect off of raindrops, which can further impede your vision. Newly developed smart headlights work by detecting oncoming traffic and automatically dimming part of the headlight in bad weather to help improve glare for drivers.
Electronic stability control
Already available in many newer cars, Electronic Stability Control (or ESC) is a technology that uses a car’s onboard computer to respond when a vehicle is losing traction, like when you can’t control the steering or braking during a spinout on an icy road. By using automatic braking, ESC technology can automatically slow a car down or keep it on its intended path, helping prevent a loss of control for the driver of the vehicle.
Weather driving apps
New apps help you plan for safer road trips by integrating weather information into your driving directions. If a bad storm or other weather event is being projected along your route, the app will advise alternative approaches or change your start and stop times.