Our reliance on car technology to save our blushes behind the wheel is getting ever greater. From head-up displays to lane departure warning gadgets, there is no end to the amount of kit available these days designed to prevent our eyes wandering from the road and keep us on it should we get distracted.

Crash safety authority Euro NCAP has even revised its grading structure so that now only cars fitted with forward collision mitigation systems (that automatically activate the brakes in the event of an impending crash) receive the coveted five-star safety rating.

And things don’t look to get any less complicated, as Jaguar Land Rover announces a host of new driver devices for its future models.

“The aim of our self-learning technology is to minimise driver distraction, which will help reduce the risk of accidents."

The British brand is developing a ‘Smart Assistant’ (detailed in the video above) that essentially acts as an in-car butler, allowing drivers to forget about everything but the task of driving.

The system automatically learns your routine (in a rather creepy Big Brother way, we might add) and can tailor every facet of the vehicle to suit both drivers and passengers, in accordance with previous use.

For instance, hop aboard for the school run at the same time every morning and the system will learn where you’re headed, offering route guidance and setting up the entertainment system to cater for passengers (if that’s what you normally do).

Once the kids have been dropped off at the gates, the hi-fi will then automatically switch to the driver’s preferred option.

The system can even link to your smartphone and automatically alert potential contacts if you’ve run into traffic on the way to meet them.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The aim of our self-learning technology is to minimise driver distraction, which will help reduce the risk of accidents. Presenting the driver with information just at the right time whilst driving will reduce both cognitive distraction and the need for the driver to look away from the road to scroll through phone lists, or adjust mirrors, temperature or seat functions while on the road.

“Up until now, most self-learning car research has only focused on traffic or navigation prediction. We want to take this a significant step further, and our new learning algorithm means information learnt about you will deliver a completely personalised driving experience and enhance driving pleasure.”

At the other end of the technology spectrum, Jaguar Land Rover has also unveiled its virtual windscreen concept to aid driving on both road and track. Detailed in the video below, the development overlays graphics such as the ideal racing line, navigation instructions and alerts to potential obstacles directly on to the windscreen.

However, the argument against the proliferation of driver aids is that it absolves the driver of responsibility for their actions on the road and that reliance on them is diminishing overall driving ability.

Where do you stand? Do you find increasing amounts of in-car technology a help or hindrance while driving? Have your say in the comments section below.

Daljinder Nagra


July 10, 2014