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A sampling of automatic driving aids available

September 30, 2012

Here are some of the automatic driving aids already offered by carmakers.

Collision avoidance system: It will sense when the car is closing in on a vehicle or obstacle. Such systems will typically send various audio and tactile signals — including warning chimes and seat cushions that vibrate — to alert drivers to the risk of collision. It will trigger the brakes and tighten seat belts to help reduce the impact on occupants if a crash becomes unavoidable. Cadillac, Toyota, Lexus and Acura all offer versions of this system on some of their models.

Back-up collision intervention: This system provides visual and audible warnings when it senses an object in the path of a vehicle backing up. If the driver does not respond in time, the system will apply the brakes to stop the car and avoid impact. It is on the Infiniti JX sport utility vehicle.

Active park assist: Ultrasonic sensors at the corners of the vehicle measure the distance between cars to determine whether there is room to parallel park. If there is adequate space, the system automatically steers the vehicle into the space. It is available on several Ford models, including the 2013 Fusion, Focus, Escape and Flex.

Safety alert seat: It generates vibrating pulse patterns on the left and/or right side of the lower seat cushion to alert the driver to potential dangers, such as drifting from a traffic lane or getting too close to objects while parking. Potential dangers in the front or rear of the car trigger pulses on both sides of the seat. Available on various Cadillac vehicles.

Adaptive cruise control: This system enables the driver to maintain a pre-selected distance behind the vehicle ahead of it, slowing and speeding the driver's car as needed. Some work even in such conditions as stop-and-go freeway traffic, maintaining a constant following distance. Available in many brands.

Pull-drift compensation: Yaw rate sensors detect directional changes caused by crosswinds or sloping roads when the driver isn't turning the wheel and automatically provide gradual steering corrections to keep the car on track. Available on the Ford Escape, Ford Fusion, Ford Flex and Ford Taurus SHO.

Rear vision camera with dynamic guidelines: The rear vision camera enables the driver to view objects directly behind the vehicle via the 8-inch monitor on the center stack when in reverse. A set of colored guidelines appears on the display to mark the vehicle's turn radius and allow for easier parking maneuvers. Available in many brands.

Lane departure warning: This system alerts the driver when it determines that the vehicle may deviate from the lane. The Toyota system can apply a small amount of counter-steering force to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on its correct course.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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