The Road Ahead : October November 2007
F A Q S Want a bigger wheel Q.I'm looking for a new small car for my daughter, but a number of them have those skinny spare wheels. Is it legal to replace them with a normal wheel? A.You can legally replace a space-saver or 'temporar y use' spare with a 'normal' wheel and tyre of equivalent dimensions and specifications. Some manufacturers offer a full-size option. However, a 'normal' wheel and tyre won't always physically fit into the wheel well. Sometimes, due to the wheel's greater width, the boot floor covering will sit up and you'll lose boot space. If a full-size wheel will fit, tr y and negotiate this as par t of the purchase. Roundabout changes Q.Can I change lanes when I'm driving in a roundabout? A.Yes, a driver can change lanes provided they obey traffic lane arrows applying to that lane on entering the roundabout, or any arrows applying to that lane while driving in the roundabout. For example, a driver turning right at a multi-lane roundabout may require a change to the left lane in the roundabout if they wish to enter a driveway on the left immediately after the roundabout exit. This lane change must be signalled by indicating before changing lanes. Cars talk to each other BMW is working with a US research laborator y to create an autonomous network that will allow cars to talk to each other. This means a car can pass data about its immediate surroundings to other vehicles. For example, it could send a warning that it has struck a slipper y patch of road, triggering a warning light in following vehicles. The system could also operate between cars and roadside stations, sharing information about traffic and road conditions. Equally interesting is a concept in which cars can communicate with traffic lights on quiet streets and automatically change the signal to green should no other vehicle be inconvenienced. Self-voiding compliance plates With the re-bir thing of stolen cars a major industr y, car-makers are fighting back. Audi has introduced self-voiding compliance plates which, unlike the widely used aluminium types, are hard to remove intact and re-fix to a stolen car. The plates are used in conjunction with DataDot technology, which involves spraying microdots on major components. Each dot is laser-etched with the vehicle's VIN number and other information. WITH PEDR DAVIS 62 OCT/NOV 07 TOP GEAR Seven-speed Golf The seven-speed, super auto-transmission developed for the $2 million Bugatti Veyron has been miniaturised to suit the next generation Volkswagen Golf. The first of the 'baby' seven-speeders is sufficiently compact to be mounted across the front axle of the small, front-wheel car. The extra gears give the driver a lower first ratio for faster 'get-aways' and a higher top ratio for economical highway cruising. Move to facial scanning Readers with a digicam know that a small camera can scan the operator's face and transmit a picture via the computer. Lexus now has a face detection system that works in a similar way. Essentially a digicam placed above the steering column, it closely follows the orientation of the driver's face. If it detects that the driver has stopped concentrating on the road, it sends audible and visual aler ts. If they are ignored, and a collision seems imminent, the system can apply the brakes. The software can also reprogram the steering ratio and amplify the intensity and speed of the steering response. The concept can be hooked into radar- operated cruise control to prevent the car hitting the vehicle in front.
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August September 2007