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Back in my Day: Why cars need sensors, servos, and safety systems?

  • By Ryan Skidmore

The “’57 Chevy”

“Cars used to be made better!” a Luddite cries from somewhere in the Ether. No! No they weren’t. That phrase is built into the very fabric of Americana Nostalgia. It exudes a confidence in some kind of quantifiably. It’s recited like a fact that everyone knows. Well… In actuality, cars from the 50s and 60s, on average, would only reach 100,000 to 150,000 miles before needing something big, like a transmission or engine, rebuilt, replaced, or was just simply discarded for a newer model. Uncle Jed’s 1958 American Something reaching 2 million miles before someone stole it does count. Anecdotes from long ago are exceptions to rules that advocates of a subject will use to shore up their pontifications as fact. Granted certain components did last longer like frames and chassis, but a moving car also needs an engine, transmission, and suspension indeed.

Anecdotes mean nothing in this case. Exhibit B, cars from this golden age of automobiles had horrific safety records so much so that it spawn a genre of music, behold the car crash song List of Car Crash Songs. Cars of this era were filled with pointy object that looked so good art critics argue if automobile design was high art or pop art Car Design Overview, and filled with hard, yet beautiful, surfaces that an occupant’s head might, and probably would, come into contact with during an accident Car Safety History. Average cars lacked even the most basic safety features like seat belts and headrests. Car Safety History. Lastly, cars of the 50s and 60s ran dirty. Case in point, the air quality in the LA area, a place where geography and the world-renown dominance of the car created the perfect storm for much polluted air, has increase several fold over the last 50 years even with an increased number of cars driving an increased number of miles. How Los Angeles Began to Put Its Smoggy Days Behind.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

My 1989 Acura Integra, a glorified Honda Civic essentially, went to 300,000 miles before I sold it and it ran well for that owner too. As well, a quick look on Autotrader or Craigslist will turn up cars that are obviously at the end of their useful lives with mileage in the 280,000 and 300,000 miles neighborhood. The life span of an average car performing average car tasks is much longer. A reason for this is, amongst other things, electronic components make cars run more precise, efficiently, and effectively. Diagnostic equipment allows for preventive maintenance and intervention before a small problem becomes a big problem. A better driving car means very little without a better crashing car, most safety features start their lives as something expensive and become cheaper with technological progress. Many of the safety advancements in the last few decades come from electronic systems instead of design changes, aka cars won’t continue to get safer without vast amounts of on-board tech.

Creature Comforts

Round 3. Most modern creature comforts like separate climate control settings for driver and passenger seats, electric seats, heated seats, and radio tuners in the steering wheel are only possible with modern equipment. More creature comforts make electronic and computerized components essential. Achieving the same level of sophistication with mechanical and analog parts would be almost unthinkable. Many standard features would not be available to average consumers, because such features are created in high-end luxury cars years earlier with available technologies and made cheaper by advancing technologies. The mini van is a creation of electronics. All the small things that make modern auto transportation less than primitive are electronic. There is no way to truly return to yesteryear. Modern equipment is more complex and takes more effort to learn, but reaps greater benefits. There is only living in the now.

The future!

As we move into the future, our technology keeps improving exponentially and it has affected all parts of our lives including our modes of transportation, our very own cars.  The connected car era is among us, or shall we say telematics.  Our cars can now be connected to the cloud and in real-time they can share a wealth of knowledge.  They can tells us from current location, driving behaviors, maintenance requirements, or anything wrong with the vehicle at that specific moment.  Our cars have become so smart that they can now send notifications immediately when the car senses it has been in an accident.  This has drastically increase the safety of all drivers.  Businesses now have the ability to take advantage of the connected car through the use of a fleet management solution.  They can easily know their fleet location and status in real-time.  Manage their driver’s behavior, and monitor all trips taken.  The connected car is allowing companies to have a significant positive impact in their bottom line.  They can become more efficient, reduce costs, minimize driver’s risks, and of course generate higher profits.  The time is now for businesses to embrace new technology and rip all the benefits.

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