CarPlay and driving technologies

I didn’t think you’d read it anywhere. :slight_smile: Your personal experience with the touchscreens you’ve encountered hasn’t been personally useful to you.

Eight years ago auto manufacturers were scrambling furiously to design media rooms on wheels. They seem to have gotten there just about the time the pandemic started, and then ran into two countertrends: no one was driving for a while, and chip fabricators (erroneously) presumed demand for automotive electronics components would fall off a cliff.

I don’t want a media room on wheels, even on a long journey, because I am WAY more interested in what’s going on around me. I do want good navigation, and that desire goes back to the late 1990s when I was balancing a bright-yellow Garmin mobile round thing and an early PowerBook with a CD drive on my lap…in the passenger seat.

Those were the days.

1 Like

Tesla chose touch screen displays because they were cheaper to install than traditional controls and displays, which require installing many components (according to Tim Higgins’ book Power Play).

Proliferating automotive features are way out of control, but at least the car makers supply manuals which describe them, although it may take a while to find them. The computer and software industry usually only mentions features in their promotions, without explaining how to use them.

Right now the automotive industry is focusing more on driver assistance features than on autonomous self-driving cars, which many of them are pushing out to 2030 or beyond. What’s already here now are features such as lane control, automatic braking, and backup cameras. The next step are features like GM Super Cruise, which is intended to drive itself with an attentive human driver on well-designed and maintained highways. GM has designated about 200,000 miles of “Super Cruise Highways” in North America which will meet their requirements as long as no work crews are out. (Road construction is something that self-driving cars aren’t ready for yet.) The goal is automated driving on the highway and human driving on surface streets, which are harder for robots.

Autonomous driving everywhere is decades away at best. Roughly 20% of all US public roads are unpaved. Public Road and Street Mileage in the United States by Type of Surface | Bureau of Transportation Statistics That doesn’t count the roads with crumbling pavement and no trace of lane markings.

2 Likes

SuperCruise has been available since 2018 but only on the Cadillac CT6 at that time but now on other models in the GM fold.

I think the discussion about driving needs to be split into a separate thread (@ace ?)

That having been said:

Case in point: the USB connection on our van (a 2018 Kia Sedona) can be flaky. It will randomly disconnect. When that happens, the stereo system switches from the phone (CarPlay or iPod music) back to the radio.

The last thing I want is to have my entire dashboard rearrange itself when this happens.

I’ve never seen a car that automatically turns on the high beams. Many automatically turn on the normal headlights, but you always need to manually engage the high beams.

I think there really are that many brain-dead drivers that really don’t care who they blind. Along with a lot of trucks and SUVs that mount the lights so high that even the normal lights blind drivers in smaller cars.

Does this automatically turn the high beams on? Or do you have to manually turn them on, with the automatic system temporarily turning them off when there is oncoming traffic? The latter sounds really great. The former sounds light a horrible idea.

Although I will certainly not trust my life to a first-generation autonomous vehicle, once the tech matures, I think it will be at least as safe as the idiots I see on the road all the time.

2 Likes

With respect to auto-high beams:

My 2018 Prius has them. the way they are set is that you leave the headlight stalk in the high-beam position and use a push button on the dash (next to the auto-parking button above the driver’s left knee) to control whether the auto-feature is on or not. the setting is remembered across starts.

The headlights will stay on low beams when the speed is under 20 mph. Only above that speed do high beams become a possibility. It seems to do a good job of canceling high-bemas as soon as it senses any light approaching. Dashboard indicators show the status of the headlight and whether the automatic feature is engaged.

One thing about these headlights is a sharp cutoff at the top of the beam. So, I can see that if they are maladjusted, even low beams could be quite painful for on-coming drivers. However, I think that mine must be operating well, as oncoming drivers have never flashed me.

2 Likes

GM/Cadillac’s Intellibeam system does automatic high beams and has been around for some time as I posted earlier:

GM’s system using a cutoff of 25mph but otherwise sound similar.

1 Like

We’ve finally gotten regulatory clearance for proper high-tech adaptive headlights in the US.

3 Likes

This sounds like something I could approve of. The system is automatically turning them off, after you have manually turned them on (via the stalk).

Thanks. I’d never heard of such a system. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t buy luxury vehicles.

It’s not just on luxury vehicles in the GM line has I know that Chevrolet and GMC also have it on some models and I assume Buick as well. But if you don’t drive at night a lot, it’s not the most used feature of a car anyway.

I don’t own a car so when I drive I’m using whatever the nearest available car club car is and they’re a mix of low end Toyota, Hyundai, Vauxhall, and Nissan cars between 2–5 years old. Several of them have had the automatic high-beam/low-beam feature (and the Hyundai one works quite well from my experience). So I don’t think it’s a luxury vehicle thing.

1 Like

My understanding is that adaptive headlights are a common technology outside the US, which is why it’s so embarrassing that it has taken this long to get them approved here. Some cars have everything necessary for adaptive headlights but have the feature disabled just so they can be sold in the US—those are likely to be able to get software updates at the dealer to have their existing feature enabled.

1 Like

The approval came through early this year, and Europe had already been using them for several years. I worry about the delays in evaluating newer technology. Some is helpful, but some is dangerous.

The automotive industry is very focused on autonomous cars and trucks. They are probably at least equally focused on electronic vehicles. And I strongly suspect that the emphasis Apple put on the latest version of Car Play at the Developers Conference is sticking their foot in the door about taking over the operating system of cars. It’s been speculated that 2024 will be when an Apple Car will be in mass production:

And Apple has been testing autonomous cars on streets and highways for years:

David, it was called Guidematic in the 80s (maybe earlier) for Caddy’s. (can I post a link to a caddy forum?)

Diane

1 Like

US automotive lighting regulations take an eternity to change. It took forever to move away from sealed beam headlights as the only legal option. I think fuel economy standards helped as it was hard to make an aerodynamic car with honking big sealed beams.

1 Like

The tech goes back to 1952 and this site has some information on that:

For an example of a rather complex steering wheel look at the Mercedes Formula 1 wheel. . Try adjusting this at 300+kmh in a car with a very stiff suspension.

Tesla has been criticized for putting essential controls down in the touch screen menus. Things like the defrost or wiper controls. I still prefer a twistable volume knob for the audio.

I’ve gotten used to the steering wheel controls on my Prius Prime. While returning home from an appointment yesterday I turned on the cruise control, adjusted the adaptive distance, and set the speed, all without taking my eyes off the road.

1 Like

That definitely resonates with me.

Although I dislike the huge center screen on the latest Priuses (or rather what they have chosen to relegate to it), IMHO Toyota generally does a good job with physical controls and steering wheel controls on the Prius. I find the assists I use most often are those that I can engage, disengage, and manipulate based on touch alone never having to take my eyes off the road (cruise control being a prime example).

A lot of people find the Prius’ center display a bit awkward, but one really nice aspect of it is that it brings your primary indications closest to where your eyes already are (and will remain as long as high-quality HUDs haven’t become the norm).

Yes, it does. And no, it’s not at all horrible.

The vehicles both have an “automatic” lights setting. Normally the driver leaves this engaged. The vehicle headlights come on, in low-beam mode, whenever the ambient light level drops below a certain level. (Think of it as “Dark Mode” for your vehicle, sort of.)

If the high-beam automatic function is engaged, high beams will come on when the windshield camera mounted behind the rearview mirror detects that there are no oncoming or followed vehicles. It sets them to low-beam when it detects headlights or taillights.

When it works properly, as mine seem to, I am reasonably confident I am not blinding oncoming drivers as the function is very quick and responsive.

It also can be disabled with a single flick of the turn signal stalk, or the high beams can be operated manually if preferred.

Truly I don’t see what’s so horrible about that.

2 Likes

I think that’s different than the “adaptive headlights,” though. My parents’ Plymouth had an electric eye dimmer in the early 1960s because my mother was a gadget freak (and still is today at age 93).

1 Like