Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Driving Forces

I read a long article yesterday about self-driving cars. The Google test car in the picture has no steering wheel or pedals, the technology takes you for a ride. I don't think the goal is for you to have one of these in your garage. It would be more like a subscription service, need to take a trip to the store, call up the car service, the car shows up, takes you to the store, makes what ever other stops you need to make and brings you home and it disappears until you need it again.
There is sensational automation in new cars today, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, warning signals in the rear view mirrors, lane centering and all kinds of warning systems. My Grand Cherokee Overland Summit has all of those with the exception of lane centering. The automatic braking has saved my ass at least once. The side mirror set up eliminates every blind spot. The adaptive cruise control is great on the Freeway and for long trips.

It's funny how quickly you get used to the electronic aids to driving, I don't think I could live without a back up camera anymore.

Lane centering devices allow you to drive hands free already...

Tesla has test driven a car from San Francisco to Seattle hands free on I-5.

My Corvette had "heads up" technology, I miss that-a lot. It had a wide range of selections for the windshield display.

Uber is involved in driverless technology, their reason? It will eliminate their one expense, human drivers. The trucking industry is also doing research on driverless systems for over the road trucks. Their reason? No drivers to pay.
There are some big issues with all this technology, if the no steering wheel, no pedal Google car gets in an accident, who's at fault? If there is a glitch in the electronics and you're at sleep behind the wheel and get stopped for speeding is it the car's fault or yours? The biggest question is, who owns the data from the car? You or the manufacturer? Insurance companies have already pulled data from automotive ECUs and used it to determine fault for accidents. The car convicted it's owner. What about hacking?

Think about this. I took my Mercedes AMG in for service, when I picked the car up. The service manager laughed and said, "I see you drove it 151 mph." I said, "How the hell do you know that?" he said "The car's computer told me."

My black C-6 Corvette's computer hides another secret of mine, 168mph. The C6, other than our Volt got the best gas mileage of any car I've owned. Example, 85mph, 1850 RPM in 6th gear, 33 mpg. At 70 it was just north of 35mpg. The new Vettes with 4-6-8 technology get close to 40 on the highway. If I kept my foot out of it in town, I was never less than 20mpg.

I love to drive, I don't like to commute and I don't like to drive for hours on long stretches of Interstate highways. Give me a piece of road like Highway One in Big Sur or the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado and I'm there, alert and behind the wheel. The rest of the time, I'll take all the automation I can get.


  1. I'd like to have that automatic braking and the warning for veering out of one's lane but I don't think I want to ride in a self driving car.

  2. BTW, I once drove Chuck Riley's new Cadillac Eldorado when he stopped off in Phoenix for a visit. I was saying "wow, you don't have to turn off the lights and everything else is automatic, too." Chuck responded "Yep, just point it and make the payments!"

  3. The lane centering is a great idea, I wish I had it on my Jeep. The Corvette was incredible, I had the Z51, best suspension and brakes and the standard engine. It accelerated so hard the morning I took it up to 168, it took under 30 seconds to get there. The aerodynamics of the body start to push it down on the road at 100mph (the Benz did the same) the car felt better at that speed than most regular cars feel at 75. I went from a dead stop on 101 at 5;30 in the morning to 168 and back down to highway speed in under a minute. Amazing.

  4. I'm waiting for the day when we can "design" our own car. Body material, engine size, on board intelligence/information systems, style, etc. etc.

  5. Ever see the video of the BMW experimental car with a body that changes shape. There's a lot of cool stuff, my Jeep at 55mph lowers it to "Aerodynamic Ride Height" Off road, it has a system that use the ABS system, traction control and the 4 wheels drive system that won't allow it to slip sideways up or down hill. You can select the speed using the shifter, first gear is one mph, etc. The tow mode, readjust the shift points of the transmission and power curve of the engine, in tow mode with the adaptive cruise control on with a trailer on the back, you can go down hill at the speed limit and never touch the brakes. Amazing stuff.

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