A while back, the folks at Volkswagen teamed up with a research lab at Stanford University to create a car that drives itself. Which means that a human sitting in the car could be talking or texting, eating breakfast or some other thing, while the car steers itself along the road and around objects. Possibilities are endless for such driverless applications. The research team found a way to use computer programs to read data from sensors so the car knows when to turn or when to avoid obstacles, which is a very cool thing.
But now folks are wondering whether cars shouldn’t be more like smart phones. Sure there are the various navigation and monitoring systems that help you get to your destination and some even point out nearby restaurants, for example. But what if your car had apps like your smart phone? What if it could monitor traffic in real time to calculate your travel time rather than establishing an estimated arrival time only to reset it as you flow through traffic? What if your car was truly connected?
If car companies don’t start thinking like consumer electronic companies, Steve Jobs could start making the iCar with apps, argues Michael Copeland, who writes about digital issues. He wants a car that checks his calendar, monitors his e-mails, monitors his progress through traffic and informs his office about his estimated time of arrival. He wants to be able to toggle from “super-performance mode to granny mode.” Apparently he hasn’t met any of those super-performing road-warrior grannies on the autobahn.
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