Developments to Watch
A BACKSEAT DRIVER YOU COULD GET TO LIKE
It's still not possible to switch to autopilot and catch a few winks while driving. But a new system from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. lets a computer lend a hand when the going gets tough.
Called Invecs, short for Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronic Control System, it relies on "fuzzy logic," a form of software that allows computers to deal with ambiguity (BW--Apr. 6). Sensors detect when driving conditions change, and a microchip adjusts the gears and the speed. Rounding an uphill turn? The controller keeps the automatic transmission in low gear as long as the car needs it--not just for a preset period, the way cruise-control systems do.
And if a driver hits a tight curve in the rain too fast, the computer will prevent a spinout by first reducing the power to the drive wheels, then adjusting the rotation speed of the front and rear wheels to match the radius of the turn. Mitsubishi will first offer Invecs in a new subcompact soon to be launched in Japan.EDITED BY FLEUR TEMPLETON