By Miranda Lightstone-Styker
Cars are gadget-packed these days. From laser-guided cruise control to blind-spot detectors, front crash warning systems, self-park functions and voice-activated entertainment and phone systems; cars can do everything but make you a non-fat, chai latte. But I have a feeling it won’t be long before they can do that too.
With all these technological advances, I got to thinking: Are these cool new toys helping us or hindering us?
I’ve recently used the self-park functions on the BMW 550i and the Lincoln MKT, both test vehicles. And as I was sitting there, watching the steering wheel eerily spin back and forth as the car squeezed into an impossibly small spot; I wondered how horrible my own self-park parallel skills would become after months of using this function.
If we let our cars do all the hard stuff (look for cars when we want to change lanes, see cars in front so we know to slow down, tell us when we’re drifting from lane to lane, and find parking spots to fit in), then aren’t we just going to become the worst drivers ever?
Maybe I’m just playing devil’s advocate here because I really do think some of these gadgets are uber cool (most I find annoying and switch off right away), but I think we stand a good chance of losing some pretty important driving skills if we continue to let our cars do all the work for us.
I mean, I just found a video of a German BMW that will park itself in your garage as you stand outside and press a button on your key fob.
See Exhibit A:
Now, I’m all for cool new toys in my car, but really? Is this necessary? You’re telling me Mr Orange Polo couldn’t find the balls to park his BMW in his own garage? He needed an intricate system of lasers and cameras to guide his car into its spot. It all seems a bit ridiculous to me.
Even BMW’s night vision seems a bit eccentric to me, and I used it when I was driving home late at night in the country. It was useful, but it made me pay attention to the screen in the dash more than the road ahead; not such a good thing.
Overall, I have a feeling that the more gadgets we pack into cars, the more we are going to take for granted while we drive. We are going to become so reliant on these technological tidbits that we won’t be able to do anything for ourselves. Oh, shock and awe, what happens when the front crash warning system fails?! Will you know when to stop?!
As it is, what do you do if your key fob battery dies? How do you start the car? More importantly, how do you open the door when it has keyless entry?
Next time you have a key fob, play around with it a bit and I bet you’ll find an old-school surprise that holds the key to all your questions.