by Jason M. Gross
Consumers are increasingly being flooded with a variety of options to access all types of media: from music and movies to news and traffic to weather and road directions. At the same time, Americans are averaging 13,000 miles per year of driving, and so are obviously spending a lot of time behind the wheel. For now, consumers can plug in their devices into their cars but often need special adapters and it can get complicated since oftentimes, each device serves a different purpose. Consequently, automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, are starting to think of the car as an actual media device that can access all kinds of media and information through the “digital cloud.” Mercedes has also pioneered a sensor mechanism to detect drowsiness on the part of the driver through a system called Attention Assist.
In addition to that system, Mercedes has developed several mobile technologies and platforms in recent years, including TeleAid that was replaced by mbrace, @yourCOMAND to be released in mid 2012, and a series of apps ranging from those with voice recognition capability to others that enable drivers to activate heater and air conditioning in their cars from inside their home. The manufacturer unveiled its vision of cloud computing in its future car concept for 2025, the F125. Beyond the entertainment and media offerings @yourCOMAND provides, the car will feature technology designed to warn the driver of obstacles and potential incidents at intersections.
Other manufacturers and technology companies have gone even further. Bentley has laid out plans to have iPad workstations and an LED screen to give users access to movies and secure databases inside the Mulsanne; Volvo’s City Safety system automatically applies brakes to avoid imminent collisions; and Viper has developed the SmartStartGPS system that allows users to monitor how fast and where their car is being driven.
What’s next–cars that drive themselves? Along with Google and Volkswagen, Mercedes has been researching automation technology in its vehicles. In June, the State of Nevada passed a law allowing for autonomous vehicles to operate on state highways.
On a personal note, though I welcome these advances in technology, as an automotive enthusiast, I hope there is a limit to this trend since taking the driver completely out of the equation would of course take away the most important part of the automotive experience: driving.
Do you want a car that can drive itself? Or do you think it spells the end of car enthusiasts? Head over to the Forum and sound off?