Ever had trouble getting out of a tight parking space? Had a crash in a foreign country? And what if your car could avoid a potentially fatal collision with a pedestrian?
Car makers vaunting their latest offerings at the Paris Motor Show this week are increasingly using technology that would make James Bond salivate as they bid to take driving risks and burdens out of customers' hands.
"It's coming to the point now that because of all these new technologies, car makers are starting to bring them together towards building vehicles capable of highly automated driving," said Ian Fletcher, analyst at IHS Automotive.
Volvo has pulled out all the stops to showcase its latest high-tech XC90 SUV, putting it on a revolving platform with rain and snow falling on the sides in a soothing, nature-like decor that contrasts with the loud music and smiling models nearby.
"It's probably the safest car on Earth right now," boasted Dennis Nobelius, XC90 project manager, as he pointed out a device on the windscreen that allows the car to spot a pedestrian and avoid a collision.
Car makers have for years been working to perfect anti-collision systems involving pedestrians, who, being unpredictable and prone to change direction at a moment's notice, are more difficult to detect than other objects.
Like Volvo, Ford also uses a similar device to spot pedestrians, with in-built cameras and radars to detect and identify a person and an intelligent algorithm to work out the probability of them crossing the car's path.
If the technology determines that the car will hit the person, an audible and visible warning signal is immediately sent to the driver. If the driver ignores it, the car automatically brakes.
"The industry is working towards the goal of reducing accidents to a minimum, and the governments are also pushing the industry towards this goal," said Thomas Lukaszewicz, head of Ford's active safety research in Europe.
And while independent test centers had previously given vehicles good safety awards based on the cars' body structure and equipment such as airbags, they now focus also on so-called active safety -- systems that assist the driver in preventing an accident.