Self-driving, self-stopping cars become reality

Manufacturers focus new technology on keeping drivers safer

Published On: Sep 16 2013 11:04:44 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 17 2013 07:21:39 AM EDT
Matt test driving

What was once science fiction now is the real deal -- cars with a mind of their own, designed to prevent accidents.

"Everything is safety, safety, safety, safety, safety," said David Maus who owns several Central Florida dealerships, including Toyota, Chevy and Volkswagen.

Maus said he's amazed by how advanced and secure cars have become.

"If somebody comes out in front of them, the brakes are applying pressure without you applying pressure," explained product specialist Joe Migliaccio, who works for Maus.

Migliaccio took Local 6 morning anchor Matt Austin out for test drives in several cars, including the 2014 Volkswagen Passat.

Its Pre-Collision System senses the way you move your foot when you have to stop suddenly, so a slight press of the pedal and the brakes fully engage.

"If someone comes out in front of you and you're looking down, texting or looking out the windows, they can actually stop the vehicles for you," said Migliaccio.

While the technology helps you stop, another car, the 2013 Toyota Avalon, is already helping drivers stay with the flow of traffic. It uses Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

The driver simply sets the speed and the system automatically adjusts to the car in front.

The Avalon also beeps if a vehicle or person is approaching and the driver doesn't see it in the rear view mirror.

Mercedes Benz is leading the way in new safety technology in its 2014 S-class sedan. If a driver tries to switch lanes and doesn't see a car coming, the car initiates a one-sided braking intervention that can move the vehicle out of the danger zone.

The Mercedes technology will likely make its way into more main stream vehicles, but no matter the features, Maus warns that drivers can't expect the car to do everything.

"Sometimes we have to remind them that you still have to operate the vehicle," said Maus. "The way to save a life and be safe and be cautious is for you to pay attention to what you're doing, and you control the machine."

As for cars that can drive themselves for long periods of time, GM and Nissan just announced plans to start selling vehicles like these by the year 2020.

Watch the video below to see Local 6's Matt Austin test drive a new car with self-stopping technology.

Web Extra: Matt test drives cars uncut version