KTVU tests new automatic driver assistance technology

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Every year, thanks mainly to Silicon Valley, car technology takes leaps and bounds, faster and faster.

On Tuesday KTVU's Tom Vacar began a week long road test of a car that's available on Monday.

Online, you'll find a fanciful 1956 General Motors film envisioning driverless cars one day to come.

Meanwhile, Google's, egg-shaped driverless cars will roam Silicon Valley streets this summer.

Honda and Mercedes will soon test their experimental driverless cars at the nearby former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Currently, the 2016 Volvo XC90 is the state-of-the-art in automatic driver assistance. It's a good indicator to just how close we are to a truly driverless car. It's a true luxury SUV with as much technology packed into a car as there has ever been.

With 12 anti-collision sessions, front, middle and back, it can give you ample warning to avoid a bump or scrape in a parking lot or on the street.

It does all that in conjunction with four sophisticated cameras that give you multiple views of what's around including one that cleverly looks down from the top to make placing the car exactly where you want it a breeze.

If either parallel or straight in parking is a challenge, Volvo's XC90 is up to the task, so long as you keep your foot ready to break and shift to driver or reverse as the car requests.

It has a system that automatically senses and keeps you in highway lanes if you drift to the shoulder. If that happens more than once in a short while, it tells you it's time to take a break.

Everything, including what can only be described as an awesome sound system, is controlled from an iPad type touch screen.

If you need help, the owner's manual, complete with search engine, can be accessed on screen too. EPA mileage, 20 city - 25 highway.

Three models are priced at $48.900 to $52,900.

But perhaps its greatest advance is what's called "Pilot Assist," which is a way to let the car handle almost all of the bumper-to-bumper, rush hour, stop and go, crawl. Tom will put that feature to the test in his next report on Friday.