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7/30/2014
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David Wagner
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Smarter Cars: 9 Tech Trends

Can your car wake you up if you get sleepy behind the wheel? Or recommend a good Mexican restaurant? These nine technologies will soon change the way we think about cars.
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The convergence of two technological trends -- the Internet of Things and the quest for the self-driving car -- is changing the way cars are being made. New sensor technologies are driving a revolution in the way we interact with our beloved cars, how safe they are, and even how fuel efficient they can be. Pretty soon, it will be hard to tell who is smarter -- the car or the driver.

That's probably OK with most drivers. People seem to love their cars like family. This survey shows that over half of British drivers name their car. The most popular name for a car in Britain? Betty. IWeek's own Susan Nunziata named her car Mabel. The funny thing is that as cars become more automated and more connected to our lives, we're only going to get closer to them. The next time a Mabel or a Betty swerves to avoid oncoming traffic, she's going to seem more like a friend than ever.

Cars are also going to get more social and even take on a personality as they become more connected to our lives. The first time Harrison (a common name for Fords) reminds his driver to pick up an anniversary gift, you can bet he's going to get rewarded with a nice wash and wax.

All of this is predicated on an increasing interconnectedness between cars, drivers, and the world around them. Your car is going to be packed with an increasing number of cameras, sensors, and networking gear that will allow it to not only see and measure the world around it, but to tap into what other cars and nearby objects are seeing. Imagine your car knowing that a child has run into the street right around the corner, because another car saw the child first.

So not only are Betty and Harrison going to talk to you, but they're also going to be talking to Mabel. All of this is going to lead to changes in the way we drive. Click on to see nine technologies that are going to make your current car look like a Model T.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 2:17:36 PM
Re: Connected cars
@kstaron- Ha! Well, i hope they won't be able to do Clash of Clans on their windshield. But you do bring up a point-- we have to make sure we use it to augment the driver, not distract them.

This is someplace where we can learn a lot from fighter pilots.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 2:13:47 PM
Connected cars
I really like the connected cars idea. Given how often I've seen near misses because someone's on their cell phone, eating a burger or applying lipstick (or reading!) while driving, I'm sure it would decrease accidents. Though please don't have the augmented windshields before the connected cars, or someones going to run up the back of a another car because they had to 'quick' check their clash of clans game or something.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 1:37:56 PM
Re: External airbags
@David:  i would expect replacing the airbags across a whole car could be several thousand dollars.

This is true, though that is also what it cost me in repairs when my car (not dear Mabel) encountered an automobile-eating pole in our office parking lot.

While life and limb were unharmed, the car sustained absurdly expensive damage. Perhaps a less costly shield could be created for those low-impact situations for drivers like me who have, er, spatial reasoning challenges?


@Susan- Did the pole jump out and grab your car? Did it fall? Because I know you didnt do thousands of dollars of damage running into a stationary object at parking lot speeds. :)


No, seriously, the holy grail for fender benders would be a system that could deploy and redeploy without a mechanic. But sadly, I don't see the money in that from the automaker's perspective which is sad. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 1:34:46 PM
Re: Mabel the MINI
@Susan- always happy to help give Mabel her 15 minutes. Pics? :)

But regards to the flying car, I think we'd have them right now if people were't such lousy drivers. think about 11 million accidents a year happening in the skies instead of on the ground. think about all those older folks who keep driving long after their reflexes have started to fail trying that in a flying car. Think about a 16 year old taking driver's ed in a flying car.

the self-driving car is a necessary step to the flying car. As soon as they can drive themselves they will fly themselves.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:55:45 PM
Re: Who's responsible when something fails
@rmansker53101- Well, we'll see. I feel like we'v ehad the "humans are too addicted to technology" argument since the wheel. Maybe one day people who say it will be right and we'll kill ourselves and the planet with technology. Maybe not. But what I personally observe is that when a new technology comes along, people abuse it, learn from it, and move on. 

When smart phones first came out they were annoying as heck. People wouldn't talk to each other. They jsut stared at their phone. I see that receding and people adapting. Not everyone. There's always someone around to misuse something. But most people. 

We'll see.
rmanske53101
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rmanske53101,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:49:35 PM
Re: Who's responsible when something fails
Sorry no, it's not the same.  No one sued the manufacture because their alarm clock didn't go off and as far as I know, no one has crashed their cell phone into another cell phone that cause a death or dismemberment. 

We're required to carry auto insurance in case something bad happens, and that 'bad' is the result of damage/loss of property or results in bodily injury or death.  When something does happen (and it will), the insurance companies do their best to either pay the minimum on the claim, refuse to pay due to loopholes or try to get someone else pay to recover the costs from. No one likes to shell out money.

Yes, we will adapt, and that's my issue, we will adapt to the point where we come dependent and rely on them to heavily.  How many people are so addicted to their devices that when it gets lost when they can't cope without? We're talking the potentials for very large amount of cash per claim and everyone thinks "big business" has deep pockets when thing fail.  The question will be asked who pays when they system fails and there a serious result.  The victims will want compensation, the perpetrators will not want to pay and the manufactures will deny culpability. This will go to litigation and the courts at some point.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:44:37 PM
Re: Talking not just to me ...
Scary to think of the level of autonomy we are willing to give up in the name of convenience/safety.


I don't see why I'd be giving up autonomy. I feel like I'd be gaining it. Sure, sometimes it is fun to drive. But if I'm stuck in traffic, I'd much rather be reaading a book or playing a game or talking to my family than worry about hitting the bumper in front of me. Sometimes I have to pick up my kids at school in the middle of a meeting. If i had a self-driving car, i could send the car to get them without leaving.

In my mind that ADDS autonomy. I still choose where i'm going. I still choose when I'm going. Sure, I give up braking to avoid an accident to the car, but wow, look what I get-- the chance to finally read Beowulf or beat Candy Crush or sleep or whatever. To me that's a trade off for my autonomy. I give up the drudge of driving for more time fo rme.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:39:45 PM
Re: Talking not just to me ...
It's the transition that will be tough, when you have a mix of humans and computers on the road.


An interesting point. But aren't we already in the middle of that transition? If you have a self-parking car, or a car with a backup camera or warning system, or a car that warns you about what lane you are in, you are on your way. By the time self-driving cars are ready to roll out to consumers, nearly all new cars will have these features standard. Many of the used cars on the road will have had them for a while.


By the time self-driving cars are on the road, most "human-driven" cars will really be driven at least part way by computers. What;s interesting to me is that the quest for the self-driving car is bringing it to us piecemeal as automakers perfect certain parts. Heck, we've been doing this since we started cruise control and anti-lock brakes decades ago. Humans are giving up parts of the driving equation with each new option they buy.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:34:20 PM
Re: All this technology is well and good...
@smonfort402- A very fair point. I feel that way about dashboard entertainment systems these days. i was just fine with my smartphone plugged into an aux cable to listen to Pandora on the road. Now they have jammed what is essentially a tablet into my radio so it can be "pandora enabled." Just extra money at no value to me in my opinion.

That said, you might find we save money elsewhere. If braking assist keeps you out of more fender benders and all of your neighbors out of more fender benders, your insurance won't keep going up as much.

If external airbags lower highway fatalities (as internal ones have) then your health insurance might not go up as much.

I wish car companies would pay more attention when selecting technology to add to cars to give a good customer ROI, but adding tech doesn't automatically mean the car becomes unaffordable.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:28:42 PM
Re: Who's responsible when something fails
@rmanske53101- I'm pretty sure the argument you're making has been made for smart phones and tablets. I'm pretty sure before that it was made for scheduling software like Outlook. Before that it was probably made for alarm clocks and regular telephones and radio and all sorts of things.

What happens when technology changes human behavior? We adapt to it.
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