Car Tech Part I

A Series

So I love tech stuff. I love it because I’m an old school G33k, the sort of nerd that was on the internet before the normies and the boomers came and ruined it. The idea of tech inside our cars really does seem like something out of Back to the Future to me. So I figured, that since I’m the one writing the blog, it should be something that is at the very least, of interest to both myself and you, the reader. So you’re getting ‘Car Tech’ – A Series. Everyone has seen automatic windshield wipers and auto-dimming mirrors, those are pretty boring. Even back-up cameras are now standard in all vehicles made after 2018. So instead, I’m going to go over some of the newest and coolest tech that’s either in your car currently or coming soon to a sedan near you. None of this should be boring. I promise not to muck it up with old stuff, like heated seats.

Carplay – Android Auto

CARPLAY – It’s pretty much the shiz

I guess the Android one is also good #iLife

Apple Carplay has easily been the greatest contributor to my commute. Most cars made after 2017 are equipped with Carplay or Android Auto. All you do is plug your phone in to the onboard USB drive and you’re good to go. Your cars monitor will become a replica of your phones home-screen, showing every icon that is compatible with your car. Usually these are all GPS applications (Waze, Google Maps, iMaps etc.) and your entertainment options. I use Spotify and Audible on just about every trip. Anything that is downloaded to your phone or whatever application you use to stream audio can now be seamlessly controlled from the car.

This is easily much safer than handling your phone while you’re driving, which is also illegal now in Virginia. It even lets you do voice-to-text seamlessly. While Siri still cannot tell the difference between the words ‘sane’ and ‘soon’, voice-to-text is far more preferable than you trying to drive and text. You should never, ever, text while driving! (Don’t be stupid, stupid!)

Tesla Autopilot

Erhmahgerd!! The future is here!!

Well, sort of…

Holy Crapola! AUTOPILOT! This is the future we were all hoping for after watching Bladerunner (sans the killer robots, of course). It’s one step shy of the flying cars we were promised in Back to the Future II, but lets not complain. Mr. Musk is getting us there, slowly, but surely. Thanks, Elon!

Okay, back to reality. Tesla’s are not self-driving cars, despite the cool use of the term Autopilot. You have to remain attentive, just like any other time you’re behind the wheel. You also have to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. It is NOT autonomous, nor is it even driving itself in any real sense. You can regain complete control by just steering for yourself, or by depressing the brake or gas pedal. What a Tesla on Autopilot is actually doing is utilizing a litany of cameras, sensors and radar to stay between the lines on the road while driving to the location you input into the GPS system. It’s also cross referencing GPS satellite data and publicly available map data as well as the data being sent out by the cars around you to determine the appropriate rate of speed and not drive up another cars rear end. Those Tesla’s are pretty, but they’re significantly less so when their front end is halfway up the backside of a Camry.

Autopilot is, in fact, a safety feature. The sensors, radar and cameras see far more than our human eyes can see. On top of that, an on-board, solid state drive is processing that data at a rate that would essentially fry every neuron in our human, organic brain meat. That doesn’t mean that it can make judgment calls though. It is a computer, not a fully autonomous Artificial Intelligence with a conscience. If the choice is between hitting a shrub and hitting a little old lady crossing the road, it does not know the right answer. To a Tesla, they are both objects that are in the way. This is why you have to be present and paying attention, because the car will kill grandma and not feel bad about it at all.

Enjoy this video from Tesla, demonstrating the Autopilot Feature