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10 gadgets that add to driving fun

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks

1. Intelligent Parking Brake: With this brake, you need not pump the brake pedal repeatedly. You can relax even in a traffic jam. Once activated, the Intelligent Parking Brake uses electronics and not mechanics to brake. It connects the brake pedal to the vehicle's anti-lock brake system, and is highly effective in situations where there is a need to brake repeatedly. This intelligent brake was introduced in the BMW Series 7.

2- Lane-Keeping Assist System: It is a safety measure that is controlled by a camera positioned inside the front window. The camera takes a picture of the lane and adjusts the power steering wheel to make driving safe and easy on highways. The Lane Keeping Assist System was first introduced in Inspire by the Honda motor company in 2003.

3. Collision Mitigation Brake System: This is the world's first collision-avoidance system. It can sense all vehicles in a range of 100 meters, and alert the driver of oncoming danger. It can even assist in braking and tightens passenger and driver belts in case the danger comes closer than 100 meters, and reduces impact by speed control. This brake system was also introduced in Inspire by Honda.

4. PRE-SAFE: This is another gadget that anticipates accidents and adjusts the vehicle's settings to reduce impact and injury. It reduces speed by putting pressure on the brakes, tightens seatbelts, adjusts front seats to an upright position and even closes the sunroof in the event of a rollover. It is provided in all S-Class models of Mercedes Benz.

5. Black Box:  Black Box is an electronic device implanted inside the vehicle. In the event of an accident, it immediately records the data taken from the car's computer and beams it to a central database. The central database team alerts the emergency team to provide medical help to the accident victims. It also analyzes the data to find out why the accident occurred. This initiative has been taken by European Union and is currently being tested in Ireland.

6. OnStar: The OnStar is a communications feature which connects you with trained professionals in the event of a collision or emergency. This help is provided 24-hour 365-days-a-year. At present this is available in Acura, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and GMC.

7. Intelligent Highway Cruise Control: Like the Lane-Keeping Assist System, the Intelligent Highway Cruise Control sends signals from a front grill-mounted radar unit, assessing the current driving conditions, and helps to adjust your current speed according to the behavior of the car in front of you.

8. Universal Mobile Telecommunications System: This is still under development but once ready it will allow wireless devices to connect a running car to the Internet. Passengers can then make use of this to video-conference with business colleagues, play multi-player games and access a navigation system.

9. Hands-Free Calling: Lincoln, Lexus, Acura, BMW, and Toyota are banking on a new technology called Bluetooth to provide hand-free cell service. Cellular phones equipped with Bluetooth can synch with the car's technology and by pressing a button on the instrument panel carry on the conversation.

10- Satellite Radio: The satellite radio now provides studio-quality music and static-free reception on your system in the car. Volkswagen, GMC and Nissan are using it in some of their models. The best available at present are the XM satellite radio and the Sirius models.