Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Car Tech: Is the glass half empty or half full?

We're still waiting for those flying cars they promised back when I was a kid. (Oh, come on now, it wasn't THAT long ago.) While our cars remain rooted (and routed) to the ground, technological advances ARE beginning to give autos a Jetsons-like feel. Paper road maps: passé. Now many of us use Web and GPS enabled computerized navigation systems. (DISCLAIMER: As a male of the species, I cannot admit to ever needing directions, the nav systems are there because they're cool!)

At the Tokyo Auto Show this week, Asian car makers showed off a number of futuristic concepts, including cars that take the challenge out of parallel parking. Motor Trend Magazine's blog offers up a nice summary.

A post in Ars Technica caught my eye. It concerns a new service OnStar may offer beginning in 2009: the ability to stop vehicles with just a call to the OnStar Operations Center. The article focuses on the ethics of handing this new power to police. The service is intended to stop car thieves, but the author seems concerned more about how this could be abused by authorities. I wonder if they might one day offer parents the option of using the system to limit the top speed when their teenagers take the family car out for a drive?