5 Hot Tech Advances at the L.A. Auto Show
By Joshua Condon of MSN Autos
With most manufacturers positioning high-tech features and gadgetry as integral selling points for their vehicles, modern auto shows are known almost as much for technology announcements as new sheet-metal reveals. The 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show is no different; it's just as much a hotbed for technological innovations as it is for environmentally friendly powertrains. This year
we saw a number of new capabilities, from the safety-related to the infotainment-oriented to our favorite kind: technology that helps you go faster. Here's a look at some of the stand-out innovations.
Cadillac debuted its Cue infotainment system at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show.
More coverage from the Los Angeles Auto Show
Vehicle: Ford Escape | Innovation: Curve Control
Originally introduced on the new Explorer, Ford's Curve Control is an accident-avoidance
technology that's particularly suited to high-riding crossovers and SUVs. Basically, the vehicle matches driver intention to the car's capabilities. If the system senses the driver is trying to corner more aggressively than the vehicle should, it will reduce speed — first through engine
torque reduction, then via 4-wheel braking — until the vehicle can safely execute the corner.
Ford estimates the technology could help drivers avoid up to 50,000 light-vehicle tow-away crashes per year.
2013 Ford Escape
Read: Ford Pulls Out All the Stops at L.A.
Vehicle: Land Rover DC100 Concept | Innovation: Wade Aid
The DC100 Concept showcases possible bold styling choices for the all new Defender, scheduled for release in 2015. While its look will change, the Defender's legendary off-road capability won't. In fact, it just might get better. Wade Aid is a sonar-based system that will not only figure water depth, thanks to sensors mounted on the side-view mirrors and bumpers, but also will use vehicle-angle data from inclinometers to determine the angle of the vehicle. This tells the system — and the driver, via a graphic on the in-dash video screen — whether water
height relative to the vehicle is increasing or decreasing, and whether forging ahead is a good idea.
Land Rover DC100 Concept
Read: Jaguar, Land Rover Take L.A.
Vehicle: Cadillac XTS | Innovation: Cue infotainment System "Cue" stands for "Cadillac user experience" and is the latest standard among infotainment
systems. To enhance usability, it was designed to work with the same type of swipes, taps and haptic motions that people already use to navigate most smartphones. Drivers can choose among four virtual instrument clusters, and the system automatically synchronizes with the driver's smartphone, uploading mobile applications and displaying them on the 8-inch LCD screen in the center stack. And get this: When the car is in motion, the screen displays a minimum of information to decrease driver distraction, but when it senses a finger nearby, it both increases the displayed data and brightens the screen.
The Cue infotainment system on the 2013 Cadillac XTS.
Watch Video: L.A. Auto Show Top 10
Vehicle: BMW i3 | Innovation: Coast Mode
BMW's i3, like many concepts, is packed with technological goodies. And while the i3's promise of inductive charging — using magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit electricity to the vehicle's battery — is great, the world at large hasn't caught up with the vehicle. What we'd like to see in more cars tomorrow, though, is the i3's Coast Mode. The system engages when the driver lifts his foot slightly from the pedal, putting the vehicle into an "energy-neutral freewheeling" state. Earth-shattering? No, but it's yet another way to help extend the range of an EV. As manufacturers are discovering, solving the electric-vehicle range problem will likely be the result of a series of singles, rather than one home-run solution.
BMW i3 Concept
Read: BMW Electrifies L.A. Auto Show
Car: Jaguar CX-16 | Innovation: EV Boost
Jag's painfully sexy, Porsche 911-fighting 2-seater hybrid concept has a trick up its sleeve — or,
rather, on the steering wheel. When you need an extra boost of power while flogging the 375-horsepower supercharged V6 engine, hit the EV Boost button to get an extra jolt from the vehicle's 95-horse electric motor (it normally powers the 1.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack). It's a trick right out of "The Fast and the Furious," and on a hybrid, no less -— albeit a hybrid that
sprints to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 186 mph.
Jaguar C-X16 Concept
View Pictures: 2011 L.A. Auto Show: Lap of Luxury