- Image courtesy of Maxime Renard (@maximerenard) on Unsplash

What are some good car advancements?

It's easy (and fun) to bemoan the addition of technology that no one asked for, to solve a problem none of us had. But what is a good feature?

1y ago

One of the things that I have disliked about previous roles in which I have worked is the idea that people only ever contact you when things are going wrong. There's never a phone call that arrives in where the individual says, "Hey there. Yeah, all is good. Well done. Keep it up."

Pick any kind of enthusiast segment, be it technology, movies, television, videogames, and people can tend to gripe for the sake of griping. Apple releases a phone, there's grizzles. Movies come out, and people grumble. Update a videogame incorrectly, and people can go into a meltdown.

So, in the interest of being a more constructive individual, rather than groaning because the world is changing in a way that makes me scared, I thought I'd detail an example of technology I think the car industry has gotten right.

For a technology to be successful, I feel, there are some set criteria to meet.

For me, the feature must be unobtrusive. It must be reliable and predictable, engaging whenever the driver expects it (just to reassure that it's working correctly). It must also serve to complement the driver's own ability, rather than look to supplant it and relieve the driver of responsibility.

I cannot think of any example better than blind-spot monitoring.

Image courtesy audi-mediacenter.com

Image courtesy audi-mediacenter.com

My time with blind-spot monitoring did not start out well, initially. When driving my family's Tiguan, the blind-spot monitor is a large amber indicator, much like the one pictured from the Audi image above. It's a large reticle that shone so brightly, I frequently mistook it for a vehicle in my rearview that was signalling to swerve into the lane behind me.

Over time, my brain grew accustomed to the bright orange light, and its urgent flickering when I use my turn signal while a car is in my blind-spot. I have since acclimatised to its knowing glow, eventually coming to trust that its radar eyes are just as good as my own.

It's not obtrusive, and just seems to exist in the corners of my eye. It is neither overly distracting or demanding of my attention, much like an obedient pet.

Whenever I see a vehicle approaching in my mirror, the light shines just as I expect it to, becoming predictable. This leads to a growing in trust of the tech, not too dissimilar to the trusting relationship I have with other important features of the car - like brakes, for instance.

Ultimately, it also doesn't nullify my own responsibility of performing a shoulder-check when changing lanes either. This means that the features doesn't dull my own skills or reduce the need to employ my ever-dwindling brain skills to be observant of traffic.

And on top of all that, the technology also seems to be relatively universal, with each make and model employing similar symbols and housings, so that drivers can easily hop into any vehicle without having to reprogram their brains to adapt to different pictures meaning different things.

For all the hang-wringing I might perform at the introduction of the technological hall monitors that are ready to scold us for the crime of imperfection, I will acknowledge that - at least in my experience - the car makers have gotten blind-spot monitoring right. It ticks all the boxes I detail above, and does it in a way that builds confidence in the feature.

It's easy to grumble about what you dislike, but sometimes - especially at this time of year - we gotta be thankful for what we get right.

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Comments (32)

  • I rather love valved exhausts, quiet and loud modes when you want it. Much better than the old exhausts which were either really loud or really quiet all the time. Now you get a mix of both.

      1 year ago
  • I like the tire pressure monitor and display, I find that rather helpful without being intrusive at all.

      1 year ago
    • I guess also because it doesn’t appear very frequently that it’s barely noticeable :) well, theoretically

        1 year ago
  • Definitely Park Distance Control, or PDC. Not actually because it helps me from avoiding hitting walls, but rather I can actually maneuver my car much closer to said walls than if the car didn't have PDC. Helpful without being obtrusive or distracting...

      1 year ago
    • Same. I don’t have any problems with knowing the corners of a car, but having an extra set of eyes in a tight spot helps heaps.

        1 year ago
  • I think it would be better if the light wasn't orange so that it couldn't be mistaken for someone behind's indicator like u said. I also find it annoying especially at night when passing a car that has the blind spot feature as for a split second I think it's their indicator.

      1 year ago
  • Hill start assistance. Great feature, u never notice how it makes ur city drive more comfortable, yet when I switched to Megane (from Clio which had it) I miss it. Not that I find it difficult to use the HB, but its just so much more convenient.

      1 year ago
    • I think anything which can be used as an assist (rather than being overtly relied upon) is a good start :)

      I’ve barely used hill start, but there’s been maybe once or twice when parked on a hill, and someone has parked insanely close behind...

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        1 year ago
    • Even better when the system is so easy to activate. In my 2013 Honda Civic, I need only depress the brake pedal harder, and the car holds the brakes for me while I balance throttle and clutch, then releases the brakes when enough torque is...

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        1 year ago