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OPINION

In-vehicle technology is enhancing safety

Gary Shapiro

From collision-avoidance and anti-carjacking technology, to keyless entry and cellphone integration, what were once wow!-inducing automotive options are now must-have features for many new car shoppers. Today, built-in and after-market auto technology keeps us safe, happy and entertained — whether we’re embarking on our daily drive or a cross-country adventure.

While many of these groundbreaking advancements in automotive tech were born here in Detroit, they made their main stage debut in Las Vegas at CES — the global stage for innovation. Jeff Owens, Delphi’s chief technology officer and executive vice president, told me recently that 60 percent of the ideas presented in Delphi’s concept car at the 1995 CES have since become mainstream, if not standard equipment, on models rolling off assembly lines today. And Delphi continues to push the limits of automotive technology right here in Michigan, with labs dedicated to acoustics, air flow, car emissions and more.

Cars are now a driving force of innovation at CES. Nine of the biggest automakers in the world — Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM (Chevrolet), Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, Toyota and Volkswagen — exhibited at the 2015 International CES®, showcasing amazing innovations in driverless and in-car technology. The theme continued at the inaugural CES Asia in Shanghai in May, where Audi and Volkswagen demonstrated driverless car technology. And already we have more than 100 automotive tech companies exhibiting at CES 2016 in January.

The automotive industry is among the most vibrant and promising spaces for life-changing innovation in consumer technology. More than 90 percent of crashes are caused by human error. There is no doubt technological innovations will make us better, safer drivers, saving millions of people every year from avoidable accidents. Driverless cars could also improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities.

Our research finds that the most in-demand features for drivers in older-model cars are in-dash navigation systems and rearview-backup cameras — both of which help drivers stay focused and aware of their surroundings. As automotive technology continues to progress, our cars will take on more of the day-to-day mechanics of driving, freeing up our time to focus on other things — like time with family or getting work done.

Advancements in assisted driving technology have prompted federal agencies to consider rules and standards to ensure safety. We support standards for aspects of the driverless car infrastructure. But for driverless cars to become a reality, government must let industry continue to innovate, rather than strangle innovation with red tape.

Government can spur innovation by encouraging the use of products that focus on driver safety, but it should avoid mandating specific technology or design standards. I’m excited by the prospect that some of the most game-changing technology in development today is being developed right here in the Motor City.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association.