Infiniti’s Around View Monitor; photo courtesy Infiniti. Click image to enlarge
By Jim Kerr
Today’s vehicles are very high tech. Electronics miniaturization combined with ever-faster computers has enabled features that we wouldn’t have even dreamed about a decade ago. The most recent showcase for a couple of “world first” technologies is the new Infiniti EX35 compact luxury utility vehicle.
The first technology is called the Around View Monitor (AVM) system. This system uses four cameras around the vehicle to provide exterior views on the dash display screen. Though camera technology isn’t new – many manufacturers have used them for backup views – the Infiniti AVM system is a much more advanced system. With one camera above the rear license plate, another camera on the front grille emblem and two more on the bottom of the outside mirrors, the driver can select the view they want to see. Angle parking is much easier in tight locations when you can see exactly how close the front and rear bumpers are away from another vehicle. With the push of a button, the driver can choose a side view and see the curb along the side of the vehicle, or a rock if you wanted to adventure down a rough country trail. Finally, computer technology allows you to see a “top-down view” of the outside of the vehicle, which is perfect for parallel parking. When I first heard about the four camera Around View Monitor system, I thought it seemed like a gimmick, but after using it, I found this system really works to help drivers when moving the vehicle in tight situations.
Another world first is the introduction of Infiniti’s new Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system. This is an advancement on Infiniti’s Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system first offered on the M45 and currently available on the Infiniti FX. Lane Departure Warning uses a small camera installed inside the vehicle behind the interior rear-view mirror. Computer analysis of the camera images indicates if the vehicle is within a lane or if it is inadvertently drifting outside the lane, perhaps due to driver drowsiness or inattention. It even picks up the shoulders of the road and lane markers when the road is partially covered with snow so it knows where the vehicle is on the road. Audible and visible warnings are given if the vehicle drifts out of its lane. The system uses inputs from the turn signals, so there are no warnings given when the driver intentionally changes lanes.
The Lane Departure Prevention system adds automatic intervention to the Lane Departure Warning system. By activating the Vehicle Dynamic Control (stability control) system, the LDP system can apply the brake actuator to control brake pressure at each wheel independently and cause the vehicle to move back into the lane.
Applying only one front brake will create a “pull” so the vehicle steers in that direction, but the LDP system does it very subtly first, while still providing a warning to the driver so they can react too and prevent the vehicle from drifting out of the lane. With all the distractions – cell phones, young children and audio systems – that are found in cars, the Lane Departure Prevention system could prevent a serious accident by keeping drivers aware.
Finally, Infiniti’s EX35 and the new 2008 Infiniti M series sedans feature “Scratch Shield”, a special “self-healing” clearcoat paint. Designed to maintain the high gloss exterior finish, the Scratch Shield paint repairs fine scratches such as those caused by fingernails near door handles or fine brush marks from automatic car washes. A special highly elastic resin is combined with conventional clearcoat to increase the paint’s flexibility and durability. If a fine scratch occurs, the flexible clear coat will “flow” into the scratch, creating a smooth glossy surface. The process can take from one day to one week, depending on exterior temperatures and the amount of damage to the paint surface.
Scratch Shield may not make you a better driver, such as Around View Monitor and Lane Departure Prevention systems can, but with a clean shiny car, you definitely look good driving down the road. That’s technology working for us.