cars

McLaren Automotive Relies on Early 90's Compaq Laptops for Service

Episode 1284

The McLaren F1 automobile is a $10 million car, and there's only 100 in existence. It's the world's greatest supercar according to Jalopnik.com. It was the first proper production car to use a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, designed by Formula One legend Gordon Murray. It turns out, when they built these in 1998, that the state of the art computing was a DOS based Compaq laptop. Apparently, to this day, if a McLaren F1 needs service, it requires that same DOS based Compaq laptop. The problem is, they're running out of them.

What Technology Will Be the Next Big Thing?

Episode 1276

Oculus Rift went on sale to the public this week. It's a virtual reality headset that has motion tracking in it along with a camera that can track your body's movements. It also has headphones with very good quality sound. For video, it means that you'll be able to look around and see things all around you. Instead of a camera man or director determining what you'll be seeing, you can look at anything you choose. Gaming is another big use case for these headsets. HTC has made a VR headset called the Vive in conjunction with Steam, a distributor of games for PC.

How can I keep track of my driving mileage?

Automatic

Episode 1245

Steven from Seattle, WA

Steven travels for business and he wants to be able to automatically track his mileage. Leo suggests the Automatic. It plugs into the car's OBD2 port and it keeps track of mileage, will tell him what error codes mean, calculate gas mileage, and even estimate how much mileage he has left before he runs out of gas. Leo likes that it specifically tracks mileage for business vs. personal. It'll even let him know where his car is. There are also apps that will work with Automatic.

Could my car be hacked?

Car Dashboard

Episode 1206

Clyde from Sherman Oaks, CA

Clyde heard about the Jeep that got hacked and worries that it could happen to his car since he connects his phone to the car with USB. Leo says that simply connecting the phone to the car stereo isn't sufficient for this. The Jeep hack involved using the car's built-in 3G access. The real flaw is that the entertainment unit of the car and the computer running the car (braking, ignition, etc), are not physically separated. They are connected in many cars through the CamBus, or internal car network.

Why do car companies put touch screens in cars when they want us to keep our eyes on the road?

Episode 1202

Mike from Maine

Mike says it's ironic that cars with computer touch screens make it impossible to keep our eyes off the screen when adjusting the radio. They want us to keep our eyes on the road, but they include touch screens and that's nuts. Leo agrees with Mike. Leo says that car companies, and even Apple and Google are looking for hands free solutions including voice operated directions, which work with a smartphone. But Leo doesn't know if that will make things better or worse.

Is there a third party camera for the car that has radar to assist with parking? (Part 1)

Garmin BC20

Episode 1059

Michael from Diamond Bar, CA

Michael needs a camera to install in his car that has radar. Leo says that it's probably best to go to a car installer about that since it's more than just buying a camera. It's not only the camera, but the screen itself. So Leo advises letting a professional handle it. The chatroom says that Garmin makes one called the BC20 that wirelessly connects to GPS devices.

How long will it be before Google's self-driving car is available?

Episode 1017

Gabriel from Miami Beach, FL

Gabriel is visually impaired, and would greatly benefit from this self-driving car that Google has been working on. Leo believes the technology has been perfected, and it works really well already. Gabriel says he has connections to people working on this, and that they should be ready to go on sale by 2017. Legislation needs to be written in California by 2015 for it.

Why don't we have autonomous driving cars yet?

Episode 973

Tom from Riverside, CA

Tom says that cellphone use while driving is bad and that we're overdue to have technology that can prevent accidents by applying breaks automatically (with infrared rangefinding technology). Leo says that autonomous vehicle technology exists now, and many companies use LIDAR to determine if a car is drifting, and adaptive cruise control to slow down if the car gets too close.