The West

Lane assist technology is now available in the VW Golf VII. Supplied picture

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Imagine getting up in the morning, getting dressed, preparing breakfast and then grabbing the paper and heading off to work. On the way, you eat your breakfast at leisure and read the news.

While the driverless car may still seem like a fanciful fantasy of the distant future, it is a lot closer to reality than you may think.

The seventh-generation Golf, which will be released in Australia midway through next year, will be available with a range of technologies aimed at making driving one of the world's top-selling cars a much safer affair.

Given the right conditions they would also enable the car to drive without any input from the driver. Among the devices available are adaptive cruise control, lane assist and city emergency braking.

The adaptive cruise control uses a radar in the front of the Mk 7 to ensure it remains a safe distance behind the car in front, no matter how fast it is travelling. In models also fitted with the DSG transmission the system will even bring the car to a halt and accelerate away again, following the traffic.

The lane assist system uses camera-based technology with steering intervention to ensure the car remains in its lane by following the white lines. If it detects the Golf straying, it will gently steer it back the other way to put it in the middle of the lane.

If something unforseen does happen, the Mk 7 is also fitted with city emergency braking which will detect if a collision is inevitable and apply the brakes with the necessary pressure to avoid the obstacle if possible, or at least considerably reduce the impact. With all of these technologies working together there is no need for any driver input.

But there needs to be a car in front that is driving at the speed limit, and obeying all the road regulations, for the Golf to follow. You must stay on the same road, it won't turn corners and the lanes need to be clearly marked with white lines on both sides.

So, for now, the driver input remains the most crucial component in driving a motor vehicle, but it won't be long before they will just be along for the ride with the rest of the passengers.

The West Australian

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