Thursday, February 09, 2006

Driver Aids? Post Script


That previous entry was getting to be so long that I nearly put it in blue. But that colour is kind of hard to read unless you've got the brightness on your tft turned right up like I have, so I decided against it.

However, that should in no way lead you to conclude that this post script is an accidental ommission, tacked on to cover an oversight; I am more or less fully in control of my cognitive functions here...

Getting to the point:

You might have spotted that I used a picture of the new Jaguar XK at an angle of travel unsuitable for the average road user, while also referring to "Keith" the Jaguar engineer voicing the concern that there's too much oversteer in automotive journalism and not enough real world.

You see, that's the thing. With all this controversy surrounding ever-so-clever over-the-top unnecessary electronics - whether it be the anti-ESP mentality or the perfectly rational fear (well, I would say that) of Hondas handling themselves - there's the danger that genuinely innovative technological advances get overlooked.

The Jaguar is relevent (before you start thinking this is some kind of viral advertising campaign check out this entry). Because Jaguar are innovative at the moment, and the decent part of me is slightly worried that lots of people are missing this, and it is not something for which this company should suffer. They are using lightweight materials (even if this has been stunted somewhat by styling described as "classical" at best) and clever construction techniques; but more than that they have a couple of geeky goodies that no-one else had thought of yet:
  • active engine mounts, and;
  • the exploding bonnet.
Keith the engineer was responsible for the first of these, and it may not sound much but how often do engine mounts get a mention in the press? And, no I don't mean this webpage - the innovation here has completely redefined expectations of diesel refinement with their application on the XJ saloon. It's a great achievement, and one that shouldn't be swamped by being surrounded by self parking systems and Accords with autopilot.

As for the exploding bonnet, this is the radical pedestrial safety system on the XK that uses an explosive charge to pop the bonnet up in the event of an unplanned interaction with a pedestrian. It cushions said biped's impact with the engine block that would otherwise require several inches of clearance between it and the outter surfacing of the vehicle. Thus saving us all from safety legislation that threatened to make modern cars even uglier than their designers want them to be.

Keep this stuff in mind. It's never all bad.


Links:

T#16: Driver Aids? [internal]

Jaguar Marketing Dept. (Take 2) [internal]


Picture is another XK Press Shot, via Newspress. Real preeedy...

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