Sam says upcoming cars will require subscriptions for premium services like Autopilot. This is mainly due to having to maintain and support those premium services beyond the warranty period. Still, Sam says that car companies are becoming more interested in ongoing revenue streams, and it could be that in the future, you won't buy your car so much as pay to use one every time you drive.
Sam joins Leo to talk about an interesting car race called the Lemons Race. It's a take on the 24 hours of Lemans, but instead, users buy lemons and race them. You buy a car for $500 (not including safety equipment), and then race it in an endurance race. And if racers are proven to have spent too much, the race organizers can buy the car for $500. That prevents cheating. It's one of the craziest races out there.
Sam joins Leo to talk about the demise of AUTOMATIC, a telematics device that plugs into the OBD2 port on your car to let you keep up on the health of your vehicles. Sadly, Automatic called it quits this week due to the Covid19 pandemic. Leo says that there are plenty of other devices similar to Automatic that will work without connecting to a server. AT&T has one called the SPARK that includes a wifi hotspot and LTE service. Sam says that as time goes on, the third-party market is shrinking because new cars have these functions built-in.
Sam joins Leo to talk about a new device that has an infrared camera and GPS to monitor your driving. It illuminates your face, watching where you are looking. If you begin to be distracted or fall asleep, it will give you an alert with a loud audible tone. But because it has to be mounted line of sight on your windshield, it may be a bit in the way. And it's expensive at $300. But Sam says that they will gradually become integrated into car designs because it works really well.
If you're not going to be driving for an extended period of time, several weeks, or months, there are important things you can do to make sure your car is kept in good driving condition. Check your air pressure once a month. Drive around the block a few times a month just to keep the tires moving. This will prevent the tires from having "flat spaces" where the air leaks and flattens the tire slightly. Check your oil to see if it's nice and clean.
Sam joins Leo to talk about a study by IAmRoadsmart, which studied the use of touch screens in modern cars. They wanted to see driver reaction times using smartphone projection systems like Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The study found that drivers' reaction time was greatly diminished, even while using voice commands. In fact, the cognitive load produced a reaction time was worse than driving drunk or while high. 12-21% vs. 27-53% for Android Auto/Carplay. The evidence is clear that using a touchscreen in your car has significantly more dangerous than driving under the influence.
Jim has a Motorola car kit for Bluetooth, but his iPhone 8 won't pair to it. Leo says general Bluetooth software may have been updated beyond what the car can support. The two products are probably incompatible, unfortunately.
Sam joins Leo to talk about a new safety feature for cars that uses an IR emitter to scan your face, looking for fatigue while driving. If you start nodding while driving, the device sees it and gives you an audio warning to pull over.
This week's car segment talks about active noise control (or noise cancellation) in today's automobiles. Sam says that Active noise cancellation in cars is similar to that in headphones, which uses noise cancellation to dampen out ambient noise. It was first used in 1993 in Audis. Sam also says that active noise control can help your fuel economy as well. It enables you to drop minimum engine speed at idle to 600 RPM, giving you an extra 1 MPG. It's also being used in hybrids for the same reasons.
Sam joins Leo to talk about shock absorbers, also known as dampeners today. Cars use hydraulic pistons to absorb the shock and movement of driving down the car, and they work in concert with springs to smooth out your drive. GM invented a process called MagnaRide Dampers, which are very popular now, and use magnetic particles suspended in oil, which alters the viscosity when needed. This means you can computer control and adjust the amount of shock the damper absorbs, improving your control — very cool technology. Many dealers offer them as an option.