Modern cars are still dumb. They should know where they are, time of day, etc. Phil Greenspun’s take

3 Nov

My ground transportation experience in D.C. was in a rented 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan. The $30,000 machine was brand new with 368 miles on the odometer. How smart is a $30,000 brand-new U.S.-made automobile with a massive battery and at least a dozen microprocessors? The car did not know where it was (no GPS chip, though it had an LCD screen for the backup camera). The car did not know where the traffic jams were and hence could not offer routing advice to save time and fuel. The car did not know where it was relative to nearby cars and hence could not warn of an impending accident. The car did not know if it had been stolen and had no way to communicate with its owner if separated by more than the range of the keychain. The car did not know where nearby hotels and restaurants were (you???d think car makers would have put in a hotel and restaurant booking system if only to collect commissions). The car did not know if it was dark or light outside or if it was past sunset. The car did not know the speed limit of the road on which one was driving. The car did not have a way of identifying itself to a municipality or private business for automated toll or parking fee collection (instead the city of Washington, D.C. had recently gone on a spending spree to install inconvenient ???pay to park??? terminals all over the place; one parks, walks to the machine, inserts a credit card, waits, takes a printed piece of paper (i.e., some government worker or contractor is paid to replace the paper roll periodically), walks back to the car, reopens the car, places the paper on the dashboard, locks the car, and walks away (and then has to remember to go back to the car at an appointed time).


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