Weird. That is the only way to describe driving along a
Dunedin motorway at 100kmh with your hands off the steering
wheel watching the car steer itself.
''It does take a bit of getting used to,'' Otago Daily
Times motoring editor David Thomson says, with a grin,
from the passenger seat.
He is not wrong.
The new Honda Accord, which retails for $55,000, is the first
mass-production vehicle in New Zealand able to steer itself
and actively avoid collisions.
Motoring writer David Thomson explains how Honda's new ADAS
system works while driving on the Southern Motorway
yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
But trying the system and letting go of the wheel still
takes a big leap of faith.
Honda says its advanced driver-assist system (ADAS)
''effectively amounts to auto-pilot technology for cars''.
The electronic system incorporates a sensor with
lane-tracking and collision-mitigation technology to read the
position of the car in relation to white road-marking lines.
It will sound a warning beep if the car crosses a line
without indicating and then steer the car back back into the
''This new technology is very exciting. The technological
advances in cars in the last 10 years have been incredible,
especially in electronics and miniaturisation,'' Mr Thomson
''This electronics suite takes control in an emergency
situation. The car can steer itself, but it's really a
corrective system to help keep people safe from accidents and
"In the past, manufacturers were concentrating on making cars
that were safer in a crash. This technology is making cars
that don't crash as often,'' he said.
''It's not fool-proof and it's not fail-safe. In certain
conditions, it can struggle to pick up the white lines.
"But, this is the next generation of safety and
fatigue-reduction technologies and, if this is the technology
available now, imagine what it will be like in two or three
New Zealand Transport Agency media manager Andy Knackstedt
said yesterday the new technology would only make roads
''It's pretty exciting and, I'm sure we'll only be seeing
more and more benefits from this sort of technology.
"There's been some very significant developments in car
safety in the last 10 years or so, with ABS [anti-lock
braking system] and ESP [electronic stability programme] two
of the most important advances in motoring safety since the
seat belt,'' he said.
''It's encouraging that manufacturers are building safer
vehicles and we encourage people to buy the safest car they
can afford. But, it's also important people make sure they
understand how this new technology works.''