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Automotive technology rolls on

Advances in auto technology reflect welcome improvements in the cars and trucks we drive.  Other than only exception I can think of, the short-lived seat belt interlock system of 1974, technological improvements have made automobiles safer, longer lasting and more convenient to operate with each successive model year.

Actually, the seat belt interlock might have been accepted by today’s drivers who nearly all comply with mandatory belt use.  But back then, the system that kept the engine from starting unless front seat occupants buckled up was deemed a nuisance representing too much government intervention.  In ’74, consumers desperately sought ways to disconnect or otherwise defeat the interlock until some congressmen were inconvenienced enough to undo the rule.

Since then, however, there have been plenty of noteworthy tech upgrades — like fuel injection for example. Now, everyone expects the engine to start quickly by simply turning a key or pressing a button.  Before that, carbureted cars required an accelerator pedal depression or two to set the automatic choke and squirt a couple sprays of gas into the intake.  After that, the engine might die at the first couple stops if the “fast idle” was not adequate, or puff black smoke if the choke stayed on too long.  Does anyone miss those days?

Antilock brake systems have proved safer for average drivers too.  Used properly (brake pedal continuously remaining applied) during stops, the system senses impending wheel lockup and releases pressure accordingly to give drivers steering control along with maximized stopping.

Traction control, stability control, air bags, lane departure warning, side and front collision warnings, automatic braking and backup cameras undoubtedly have and will save many lives.

Newer technologies such as Bluetooth for device integration, rear cross-traffic alert, voice recognition, night vision with pedestrian detection, and GPS tracking all contribute to driver convenience and safety.

Future tech like telematics and V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2G (vehicle to grid) communication capabilities promise to up the level of vehicle safety to previously unachievable levels.

Automobile improvements positively affecting the environment have been vast.  As demonstration of the detail of such advancements is the recent tech by Supplier Development Systems in Birmingham, Alabama.  They are marketing a system that collects water from a vehicle’s heating and air conditioning unit, which normally drips to the ground.

With their Brimtech Self-Filling Windshield Washer System, the condensed water is filtered, detergent is added, and the mix is collected in a dispenser.  The cleaning additive contains antifreeze agent to keep the technology working in colder climates.

The company claims the system can reduce use of the 900 million gallons of washing fluid sold annually in the United States.  Additionally, it can be adapted to keep external cameras, radar and lidar sensors and other obstacle-detection hardware free of dirt and debris.

Ford has even tested a concept named On-the-Go H2O that also collects heating and air conditioning condensation.  Instead of adding a cleaning agent, however, it filters and channels the water to a faucet in the center console to supply thirsty occupants.  The aim is to provide drinking water and diminish the number of plastic water bottles ending up in landfills.

While Ford has no immediate plans for marketing their system, Brimtech’s device has been offered in the aftermarket citing issues of weight reduction, convenience, environment and cost savings for fleets.

New automotive ideas seemingly have few limits.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at

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