Melissa Ramenofsky loves all the gadgets in her Buick Park Avenue, but her overall favorite is the automatic climate control system, which allows her to keep her car at a consistent 72 degrees.
"I just set it, and forget that it's on," says Ramenofsky. "And within a minute of getting in my car in the morning and going to work -- I'm comfortable...and happy."
Melissa is the beneficiary of advanced vehicle sensors. Today's cars and trucks are available with dozens of new technologies that increase safety and comfort while driving. Automatic climate control uses the inputs from three distinct sensors to maintain the desired temperature in the passenger compartment. The most unique being the sun load sensor.
"The sun actually represents over a third of the overall heat coming into the vehicle because of the glass being angled," says Bill Hill of General Motors. "If you're going away from the sun, it'll reduce the amount of air flow. But if you turn and point directly into the sun, it senses that you now have increased heat coming into the vehicle through the windshield and so it'll increase the blower speed and reduce the air temperature."
Another feature available on many vehicles is ultrasonic rear parking assist sensors -- that beep to let you know when you're about to back into an object like a bicycle.
"There are also sensors in the wheels that sense the difference in location left or right," says Hill. "These are stability control sensors that enable the car to stay in a straight path even in inclement weather."
What's the purpose of having all these elaborate sensors in your vehicle? So, that you, the driver, can keep focused on what should be your primary task, keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, according to Hill.