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What techology for Automobiles?

By Elkor in Op-Ed
Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 02:23:30 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

Recently, there have been storied about technological improvements to automobiles. Many of these cause jaw dropping suprise at the apparent idiocy of car manufacturers. It is easy to sit back and criticize, but instead of tearing into them, we should give them suggestions.

I was talking with a coworker about the technology that car manufacturers are putting into automobiles recently. On board computers for e-mail and web browsing, GPS to track your location, dashboard cell phones, and other technological advances.

We decided most were marginally useful or potentially dangerous given how most "normal" people would use them.

This then sparked the following question: What technology would we WANT in a car?

Personally, I don't want on board cell phones, the technology is too young. I would hate to replace my car because the hardware couldn't handle the current standard. Ditto for on-board computers. And I'm not enthused by the idea of On*Star being able to unlock my car doors remotely. Visions of "yes, officer, I can let you into that car" dance in my head.

So, my question is, what DO we want in cars/trucks/SUVS? Please respond with whether your idea would be required on all cars, standard on a class of cars (SUVS, hatch-back, etc) or optional equipment (customer option) as well as an outline of what your idea is.

Technical explanations of protocols and wiring schemes aren't necessary, as the precise implementation can be worked out later. I am interested in ideas.


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What do you want in an automobile?
o Going from point A to B 36%
o Moving Lots of Stuff if need be 3%
o Drivable Office 0%
o Home out of Home 5%
o Mobile Party Platform 7%
o Batmobile 47%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o technologi cal improvements to automobiles.
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What techology for Automobiles? | 95 comments (95 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Optional Safety Gear (4.66 / 9) (#1)
by Elkor on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 04:17:08 PM EST

Well, one of the ideas I came up with in my discussion is as following:

I want some Cruise Control features. Most people tend to zone when the cruise control is on and they are going down a long stretch of road. One of the most annoying things when I am cruising is adjusting my speed to match cars in front of me.

I want some kind of front range detector that ties into my cruise control. When my cruise control is turned on it will adjust my speed relative to the car in front of it. It won't handle braking (too much possibility of locking up suddenly) or steering, merely speed control.

I also want some side sensors that monitor the traffic to my sides. If something should approach or be within X feet, something starts beeping to let me know that something is about to hit me. This could either be an "always on" function or tied in with the cruise control as well.

This could also be tied into an alarm system to warn off approaching individuals (like viper does).


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Mercedes... (3.40 / 5) (#2)
by John Miles on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 04:25:44 PM EST

... has a system that's similar to what you're talking about, but it's not clear when/if they'll offer it here in the US. Over here, all it would take is one drooling cretin who didn't read the owner's manual, and Mercedes would be facing a billion-dollar jury verdict.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
huh (3.25 / 4) (#5)
by spacejack on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 04:37:10 PM EST

This could also be tied into an alarm system to warn off approaching individuals (like viper does).

So putting a proximity alarm in your car that wakes up the neighbourhood every time somebody walks by is not idiotic, but putting in celphones/computers is. I guess it's a fine line...

[ Parent ]
That's Backwards... (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by Elkor on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 05:26:52 PM EST

The alarm triggers the sensors, not the other way around. (though it could be an option to have a proximity alarm, as you said, that would be annoying).

The idea is that it would take a body mass profile (an outline of their shape) and transmit this data along with the car location if the car is stolen. This, combined with weight readings from the seat motors, would give some details as to the individual. While the outline could easily be spoofed by wearing bulky clothes, and the weight reading by wearing extra weights, they would provide an upper threshold for law enforcement to search with.

A small person can appear larger than they are, but a large person has trouble appearing smaller.

Oh, this can also be used to figure out of you are parked too close to a wall/other car for the door to be opened without hitting them. While most people quickly figure out what distance they need for their car, I see this as being useful for rental cars.

Anyway, as I said, that is just my idea. If it can't be worked out to use it as part of an alarm, then the cruise control functionality would be good (for me).


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Why dance? Use an interior camera. (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by localroger on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:31:23 PM EST

There's already a system for taxis that does this to the passengers, with a hard drive for storage (so as to identify robbers). Have it photograph the driver each time the car is driven away too. Better, have it e-mail the picture to your On*Star host, so they can run facial recognition on it and call the cops if you forget and loan your car to someone not on the approved list.

The technology for this should be readily available, since it will probably be developed as part of the registration procedure for Windows XMP-2005.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Thought about that... (5.00 / 3) (#27)
by Elkor on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:13:36 PM EST

Thought about an interior camera that would send a bitmap of the car interior after the location device was activated as well as periodically afterwards.

Decided against it because of the potential privacy issues. Wouldn't want the police to know your location AND that you were getting some nookie while parked illegally.

Would definately have to be broadcast, if simply cached to a hard drive the crooks could wipe the drive.

Or drive the car through a very large magnet. :)

"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
speed-matching cruise control is in 2002 BMW 7's (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by gbroiles on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:04:18 PM EST

the 2002 7-series BMW sedans have what they call "active cruise control", which will maintain a set distance from the car in front of you in heavy traffic; if the lead car slows significantly, the system will apply the brakes and sound a warning.

So maybe in another 5 years it'll be in cars ordinary people can afford.

[ Parent ]

Full scan radar (4.16 / 6) (#3)
by www.sorehands.com on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 04:29:36 PM EST

360 degree radar. Gives you position and vectors of all objects in a heads-up display. Overlay the targeting information in the actual view on the windshield and display a small area for 360 view.

Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.

Targeting! (2.66 / 3) (#6)
by SlydeRule on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 05:04:57 PM EST

Heat-seeking missiles, too. Something that'll blow slow-moving street barges completely out of my way.

Um, getting serious here... a simple warning that your closing rate on the vehicle ahead has become a matter of considerable concern. This would have to be adjustable, so you could set it not to go off on your normal stops. Of course, if you normally stop with all four wheels locked up, sliding to within an inch of the car ahead of you, this might not be so helpful...

It would also have to recognize when the distance closed suddenly due to a car moving into your lane in front of you, and not freak out.

[ Parent ]

Well, ok, but this might be rather predictable... (4.40 / 10) (#4)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 04:36:03 PM EST

A 3.0 liter six cylinder aluminum block engine with electronically controlled valve timing on both intake and exhaust, a roughly 11:1 compression ratio, a supercharger, a large air-air intercooler, an appropriately tuned exhaust with proper headers and minimal legal muffler(s), all alloy moving parts in the engine and drivetrain, alloy tube frame chassis, all wheel drive, four wheel independent suspension of some quality design or other, wide, low profile tires(but they must fit UNDER the damned wheelwells,) a six speed manual gearbox, Recaro seats with four point harnesses, a six disc in-dash CD changer, air conditioning and heating, cruise control, at least a minimal rear seat, an actual trunk, a full size spare, keyless remote entry, a pound of C4 under the driver's seat wired to the ignition in case anyone tries to bypass the key mechanism, an oversized lightweight alloy radiator, composite exterior, leather or cloth interior, four wheel ventilated discs, preferably with multiple piston calipers, of large diameter and with carbon pads, a seriously heavy duty multiplate clutch of some sort, and nice but unassuming styling(ie, cop avoidance.) Plus the usual crap like power windows, variable wipers, and so on. Traction and stability control and ABS, but with cutout switches. Same for the airbags. Tinted windows. Black, with alloy wheels, no chrome trim. No spoilers, fog lamps, convertibles, moon or sunroofs, cheesy ground effects, fake carbon fiber dashboards, titanium shift knobs, or other such boy racer wannabe crap.

With the exception of the pound of C4, there's no reason that car couldn't sell for under $35,000 if mass produced - but it won't be. Too bad. It'd make a mint. It'd also get a lot of idiots killed, because it would be one very seriously powerful machine. The problem, of course, is that the idiots in question wouldn't be the occupants of this vehicle, since it is, as described, undoubtedly safer than any passenger vehicle you can buy in the US for less than $100,000. They'd be the idiots who tried to keep up with it and went off the road or some similar stupidity.

All that said, I don't want a built in phone, or a computer, or any of that crap. No TV in my car, thanks. I want a damned car. (And most probably one that gets upwards of 25mpg, which isn't too bad for a car with as much power as we're talking.)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

get a CVT. (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by rebelcool on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:30:07 PM EST

Replace the 6 speed with a CVT. Though I dont know of any race-worthy CVT's, this is a wish list :)

It'll give you better performance AND mileage than rowing your own gears ever could, simply from the infinite ratios that are correct every time.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Yes, but (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:36:48 PM EST

It will also be boring. Besides, CVTs are not very reliable.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
right... (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by rebelcool on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:39:01 PM EST

right now. Though thats quickly changing. CVT's are being stealthly inserted into many models... you just have to look for them

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Actually, (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 07:10:55 PM EST

There is no evidence that the current crop of CVT models will be any more reliable than the ones to be found in mid 90s Grand Voyagers and similar vehicles. They might be, or they might fail constantly, too, and they're really expensive to have failing very often. Honda releasing one is an encouraging sign, but not everything Honda touches turns to gold, so there's no sure bet to be had.

I wouldn't buy one for at least ten years now, unless I had no choice, and even then not for a vehicle I was driving. Talk about boredom.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Not everything Honda touches maybe... (none / 0) (#77)
by cronio on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 07:08:16 PM EST

but with the new Audi A4 coming with it as an option, I'm getting my hopes up ;).

[ Parent ]
11:1 compression and forced induction? (none / 0) (#40)
by loualbano on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 06:04:32 AM EST

That would be a neat trick. I would opt for lower compression and the option to disable the supercharger in case you have to run it on crappy Colorado 85 octane urine. Actually I would rather see a twin turbo set up with variable boost control from the cockpit and pop off valves instead. A little more money, but it sounds cooler and your mufflers could be almost non existant as the turbo quiets things down considerably (unless you got the hammer down and the waist gate opens, but a muffler ticket would be of little concern then).

Don't forget a roll cage, although I would assume there would be one integrated into the space frame. Also, I would make sure that harness has 3" belts, and I would make it a 5 point, just because I don't want to have kids after I get into an accident.

Oh, and a push button starter like in the S2000, only locate it on the console, like the key on the Saab 95. And 30 valves would be neat too. Don't forget variable length intake runners, a fully roller cam/follower setup, direct fire ignition, O ringed cylinders, 8 quart dry sump oiling system or at least a windage tray with dual filters and an oil cooler, 180 MPH speedo, and all analog gauges that actually tell you whats going on.

Here's a car that misses some of those points, but I think we can forgive it:



[ Parent ]
True... (none / 0) (#73)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:30:08 PM EST

That would be a neat trick.
With the right materials, you could do it, but it wouldn't be cheap, this is true. I didn't think about the engine design necessary to pull it off closely enough:)
Option to disable the supercharger in case you have to run it on crappy Colorado 85 octane urine
Certainly. I'd rather just integrate that with the antiknock sensors, really, and have it vary the boost rather than be an instant cutout. Calls for a more interesting supercharger design, but it can be done.
Actually I would rather see a twin turbo set up with variable boost control from the cockpit and pop off valves instead.
Turbos are great for a 1000hp Viper, where you've got so much torque relative to your weight even without boost that turbo lag is a nonissue, but for a six cylinder with electronic valve timing, I'd rather have the smooth power provided by the supercharger. Otherwise, you're going to spend way too much time daydreaming about getting the revs up high enough to actually go somewhere.
Don't forget a roll cage, although I would assume there would be one integrated into the space frame.
I assumed when I said "tube framed" that you'd build a proper passenger compartment into it:) As for the push button starter and other goodies, yeah, sure. I can do that.

Nice car, by the way. By the time you finish with it and make it roadworthy, you might better have purchased a small apartment building as an investment in your future, but nice car:)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I'll take one of those... (none / 0) (#47)
by Sharrow on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:30:43 AM EST

I'll take one of those, but I'd replace the six-speed manual with a six-speed sequential. And can I have a rear-spoiler too. They're not just boy-racer wannabe crap. Look at the Audi TT for what happens when you don't put a spoiler on fast cars: lift-off oversteer. Oh, and lose the C4.

I've got green eyes, red hair, and I'm left handed. A hundred years ago, I'd have been considered in league with the Devil.
[ Parent ]
Heh... (none / 0) (#69)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:13:57 PM EST

Unless you intend to drive at 100+mph regularly, your spoiler isn't going to generate enough downforce to matter. I was talking about a street car, and I'm not particularly concerned about its performance at speeds that will get me a prison term.

By the way, just where do you think you're going to corner and maintain enough speed for your spoiler to have much effect in an Audi TT? This I gotta hear...

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Spoilers and stuff (none / 0) (#84)
by Sharrow on Fri Sep 07, 2001 at 04:52:23 AM EST

When the TT came out originally (98?), there were a spate of accidents. These accidents were traced to the lack of a rear spoiler. When going through corners, and there's a problem, the natural tendency is to lift off the throttle. This causes the weight to shift to the front, the rear loses grip, and hey-presto - oversteer. The rear suspension had to be teaked in order to prevent this.

You point about speed maybe valid. I wouldn't consider myself an expert on aerodynamics. But, I did read this in several reputable sources.

Anyways, all I have to do is pop over to Germany, and take it for a spin on the autobahn - no speed limit for cars.

I've got green eyes, red hair, and I'm left handed. A hundred years ago, I'd have been considered in league with the Devil.
[ Parent ]

Spoilers (none / 0) (#86)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 07, 2001 at 02:55:43 PM EST

If you can't adjust that rear wing's angle of attack, or if there isn't a way to tell where you've adjusted it to, then assume it probably isn't doing much for the car. Real, useful downforce aero parts are both adjustable and very, very large. Even then, they typically do next to nothing at anything resembling a legal highway speed.

What this means, of course, is that there are about four cars available for less than six figures that have any useful downforce-generating aero work on them, spoilers or otherwise.

As for the TT, based on the description you give, the problem was probably a combination of suspension and drivetrain, and I bet some of those idiots who didn't know how to drive a car("the natural inclination" is not what a real driver is going on,) probably got on the brakes, making matters even worse by causing even more weight transfer and even more fishtailing. Adding a wing might have helped, but it would also have looked really stupid, and it is a band-aid solution to a problem that has a real fix - which is the fix Audi actually used. The modern TT, by the way, supposedly is one of the best handling cars you can get, though I have not driven one. I wouldn't doubt it - AWD systems are sweet.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
An earth-shattering kaboom..... (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by warpeightbot on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 01:00:51 PM EST

a pound of C4 under the driver's seat wired to the ignition in case anyone tries to bypass the key mechanism
A POUND?!? You want to blow up the entire block? An ounce or so, about the size of one of those Polariod lithium batteries, would do nicely....

Although I'm not sure I'd want to go around sitting on a bomb all the time.... I like Saturn's approach. If the proper key isn't used, just disable the fuel computer. Takes getting towed to the dealer to reset it.

One of many reasons I love my Saturn... but that's a whole 'nother can of beans.

[ Parent ]

Yes, a pound. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:15:30 PM EST

The point behind it is that when it goes off, the whole damned country will read about it in the papers, and provided I can manage to keep my ass out of prison somehow(unlikely, but is that where this whole thing loses realism for you?) nobody would EVER try to steal MY car again:)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Why lightweight? (none / 0) (#58)
by JonesBoy on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 03:15:47 PM EST

You want ultralightweight everything, and then you screw it all up with air conditioning, power windows, low profile tires, and a full size spare. Thats adding a couple hundred pounds for nothing.

Then again, I shouldn't complain. My 1987 Porsche 944 turbo has almost everything but its a 4 cyn, no all wheel drive and the c4. ALL aluminum engine (pistons cylinders too) forced induction (KKK28-8 turbo), big intercooler, limited slip, etc. 28mpg hyway, 230 hp with the hammer down. 400hp is possible with bolt on mods.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#71)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:17:57 PM EST

Actually, that couple of hundred pounds is useful. The low profile tires have less sidewall flex than the regular tires. Given that I'm not going to run a Le Mans suspension on this car, that matters. The spare is necessary, because this is a car meant to be driven, not just on a track. The A/C, same thing. Windows - well, you aren't adding much weight for them, and they're awfully handy. Basically, I want a car that weighs several hundred pounds less than most sports cars of similar size and equipment, and has more power, but without resorting to a huge ass V8.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
GUNS GUNS GUNS (2.75 / 4) (#7)
by PhillipW on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 05:12:28 PM EST

Actually just one gun. A gun that automatically fires at people who drive like assholes. For example, the kind of people who squeeze in between 2 cars, risking the lives of their passengers and people in surrounding cars, only to reach their destination 20 seconds faster.

Two important things (2.50 / 4) (#8)
by a humble lich on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 05:19:43 PM EST

First I want an onboard computer. I want enough voice recognition for me to be able to play mp3s and get directions without looking at a screen. It should talk back to me with a soothing voice, saying things like "I can't do that now Michael." And when it talks a set of little red lights flash.

Second, as I live in southern California, I need a sun roof. With a hv. machine gun on top on a ring mount.

K.I.T.T. (3.80 / 5) (#9)
by RangerBob on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 05:20:15 PM EST

I'm tired of driving, I want something like that can drive me wherever I want to go :) Actually, I would like things like some form of radar that would show vehicles around corners when there's a building in the way. I'd also like to have some sort of proximity sensors to help when I'm backing up or parallel parking. An automatic braking system would also be cool to avoid any oopsies like backing into things.

For lower tech, I'd like some good decent voice control so I wouldn't have to look away from the road. Something where I can mess with a radio, wipers, etc. I'd also like automatic doors and fingerprint activated locks as well.

Safer Visuals (4.00 / 4) (#11)
by Jonathan Walther on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:03:55 PM EST

I would like the top of the car to be plexiglass. ALL of it. This would prevent blind spots. It can be tinted to avoid sunburn if necessary. I need to be able to look over my shoulder and see whats happening.

I want a rearview mirror that I don't have to adjust; Mexican taxi drivers have something like what I want. The mirrors are a strip all along the top of the front of the car. You can see whats behind you from any angle and don't have to yell at the kids to "STOP BLOCKING MY VIEW!"

I want proper sideview mirrors. They should be curved so that there are no blind spots. Further, the curve should ensure that I can see black helicopters tailing me, and the curb below me. I want sideview mirrors that I don't have to adjust and that are actually HELPFUL in doing a parallel park.

I want a periscope. Often when I want to make a turn I can't see around the corner if anyone is coming or not, and usually its because another car is blocking my view. A periscope would alleviate that.

Low back seats. Often much of the rear view is cut off by peoples headers, or even the top of the rear seats. Lower them, or raise the drivers seat. We need to see whats happening!

None of these things are very hard to do. All would make for much safer and more comfortable driving. Why haven't they been done yet?

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

Blind spot cameras (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by localroger on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:25:50 PM EST

Video rear view could show a composite 180 degree panorama of everything to the sides and back of the car. No more merging into the vehicle that's been riding your bumper in the next lane for the last 14 miles. You could eliminate side mirrors, which are a parking hazard and aerodynamic problem. Implementable with current technology.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Convex Mirrors (4.00 / 3) (#29)
by Elkor on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:18:42 PM EST

They have these in Europe.

Unfortunately, they are not approved for cars in the US. For some reason the government doesn't think we can adjust to looking in a curved mirror.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Homer Simpson (1.00 / 1) (#41)
by loualbano on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 06:10:16 AM EST

designed a car like this for his brother. He put his brother out of business with it.

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#81)
by strlen on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 08:08:34 PM EST

There's one luxury car made by Nissan (infinity i45) that includes a blind spot camera. yet the car is well out of my monetary reach. Also blind spot camers are standard on some dump trucks as well. Personally I just look over the shoulder during merges and line changes, and adjust my rear-view mirror so that I view what's behind me without moving my head. Same with my side view mirrors.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
GPS and directions (3.20 / 5) (#14)
by rebelcool on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:26:02 PM EST

A nice little map that displays on a screen and/or talks. Also nice would be the ability to give it an address and get driving directions there (and talked to you as you were driving). Some cars have this already, but since I can't afford any of those... id like it in all the low-end ones.

I'd also like to see all safety features equalized throughout car models. Why should only the $50,000 mercedes and bmw's be worthy of the latest in whiplash protection and side-crash protection? Every car should have this.

Every car should also have a black box built into them for analyzing crash data. It helps build better cars. Some cars have this, such as the F-bodies from GM among others.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

safety features (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by Delirium on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:07:19 PM EST

The safety thing is something that puzzles me - many of the features aren't really expensive, but people seem to not care about safety, so the manufacturers leave them out of the lower-end cars to save $500-$1000 on the sticker price, because that gets them more sales than trumpeting the safety features would. For example, the Honda Civic is the only low-end sedan that I know of that comes with anti-lock brakes standard (most others you have to special-order from the factory, a several-month-wait proposition), and even then only on the highest-end EX model. And what about side air bags? They're ridiculously cheap for the protection they provide - a $250 option on the Civic, but again it's the only low-end sedan offering them, and even there they're not very common. Are people really that cheap that they're not willing to pay $250 extra, when we're talking about a $15k or so car, to get some added safety?

[ Parent ]
re: safety features (4.00 / 3) (#34)
by danceswithcrows on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 09:37:05 PM EST

so the manufacturers leave them out of the lower-end cars to save $500-$1000 on the sticker price, because that gets them more sales than trumpeting the safety features would.

That doesn't seem right, somehow. After all, don't lots of people buy Suburban Assault Vehicles to "feel safer"? One of those things costs a lot more than a Civic+$1000.

I think there's something else going on: When some people are making a large purchase, they try to cut costs any way they can, even if the comparative savings are tiny, as in the side air bag example you gave. It's a weird psychological thing, probably.

As for ABS, I'm not so sure about it--I learned to drive on cars without ABS, and the first time I actually slammed on the brakes in a car with ABS, the vibration of the brake pedal was really unnerving. Plus, ABS did exactly zero for me in the freezing rain/slush out by Naubinway on US 2 last winter....

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
[ Parent ]

abs is best. (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by rebelcool on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 10:36:17 PM EST

It is quite unnerving the first time its used. I thought my car was broken from the loud clattering noise it made. But it can still pump many times faster than a human could...whilest on a winter road that doesnt help much (you really need all wheel drive), it does for wet skids.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Four things (4.00 / 6) (#17)
by plastic on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:33:08 PM EST

1. Four seats and a trunk
2. Extreme reliability
3. Super-high gas mileage (~100mpg)
4. Ultra-low emissions

Personally, I think I'm going to pick up a scooter and see where fuel cells / electric cars are in a few years...

One more thing (none / 0) (#45)
by MicroBerto on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:24:20 AM EST

Mix this car here with *acceleration* and someone's going to become a billionaire.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
What about a VW Lupo 3L? (none / 0) (#74)
by YesNoCancel on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:30:59 PM EST

Meets all four criterias...

I don't know if VW sells the Lupo in the USA, however.

[ Parent ]

batmobiles (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by Arkady on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:54:48 PM EST

As a BeOS user, I just had to vote for batmobiles. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Just the good stuff . . . (4.71 / 7) (#22)
by tmoertel on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 07:28:29 PM EST

My list:
  • key-coded cryptographic kill switches on all electrical components costing over $40 (without the key, the car won't start and the major parts are effectivley dead, i.e., worthless to chop shops)
  • computer-controlled timing on everything to improve gas milage
  • effective and indestructible continuously-variable transmission
  • ultra-quiet, actively dampened interior accoustic chamber
  • HUD with integrated wayfinding system and forward-looking infrared
  • GPS and backup inertial-navigation system (for maintaining position when out of satellite contact)

My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]

As the operating system ... (2.42 / 7) (#23)
by joegee on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 07:42:22 PM EST

I prefer a flesh driver to Microsoft XP2010. If a computer-augmented system fails its failure must be transparent to the successful manual operation of the vehicle. To have a trip end in body bags it only takes one malfunction in a completely computer-actuated vehicle.

Until more work is done on stability and security I hope auto makers keep embedded Windows, embedded Linux, embedded Be, Java, or anything to do with a WAN away from the central control system of the car.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
Rated everywhere from 1 - 5 ... (none / 0) (#85)
by joegee on Fri Sep 07, 2001 at 11:46:15 AM EST

and the above comment wasn't a troll, wasn't an attack, and contained no offensive language (although I realize that "Microsoft" is a swear word in some circles.)


The above comment must be unreasonable somehow -- I guess some of you want your vehicle to seg-fault in the middle of the rush hour commute? More power to ya ...

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
Let's see... (3.71 / 7) (#24)
by mmcc on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 07:53:32 PM EST

i want a transportation technology that

  • is non-poluting
  • uses a commonly available, renewable energy source
  • is cheap
  • is safe
  • fits in a carry bag
  • is good for my health

    So, i guess it's time to buy a new pair of shoes.

  • well (3.80 / 5) (#25)
    by Delirium on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:02:45 PM EST

    I want all of that, plus top speed over 100 km/hr. Unfortunately I'm still looking...

    [ Parent ]
    About damn time (4.40 / 10) (#28)
    by jabber on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:14:25 PM EST

    You know, there's nothing worse than a focus group, enamored with the latest gadget, deciding what EVERY car on the market next year will offer as an option. To hell with it.

    My wishlist is simple:

    • Video cameras and LCDs to replace side and rear-view mirrors. Once targetted, they would be always properly aligned, for all drivers.
    • Drivers seats with memory, so when I have work done, I don't have to putz with the adjustment for an hour and a half
    • A black box that would retain the last 15 minutes of all stats, speed, direction, location, the video from the side and rear (and front) cameras.
    • A diagnostic system I don't need to go to the mechanic for. A "check engine" light means crap.. A "oxygen sensor fault. $35 part + 30 minutes labor" is much more useful. There's no reason that the fault code lookup table and a cheap LCD can not be made part of 'base equipment' at trivial cost, except that it gets the dealer money. A system that would do the diagnosis for you, and let you optionally set up an appointment with the service center of your choice, would be a nice thing.
    • A built in system to keep track of scheduled service, and emergent problems, and inform you in advance, to keep a car well maintained, would be really nice. You can't imagine the number of times my mother has gone 5k miles between oil changes, worn the brakes to the nub, run on underinflated tires, with crapped up filters, etc.. I take care of my car, but she does not think about hers.. An automated system would save her money and hassle.
    • Run-flat tires and a small reserve fuel tank. Yeah, I know, I should keep an eye on the gauge, but still..
    • While this is bigger than the car itself, I would like a traffic advisory system that would accept a destination, and give me the traffic conditions for the best routes between here and there - and offer an alternative, better route. Traffic density, average speed of en route vehicles, expediancy to target, things like this would be considered and I would be able to be routed for the conditions of my choosing.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    most of these are available (3.66 / 3) (#31)
    by gps on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:21:51 PM EST

    but only on overpriced luxury cars, because that's exactly what these are.

    and get real, you want expensive electronic display "mirrors" sticking out of your car? So that when mr. asshole in their '57 chevy drives down the street and smashes your side mirror off it costs you $2000 to replace?

    I'll take a silvered plate of glass any day over that. It works and is simple to replace. Simplicity is a good thing.

    [ Parent ]
    Huh? (3.75 / 4) (#32)
    by jabber on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:34:15 PM EST

    Since when do I need LCDs outside?? Eh?

    Little tiny nubs, built right into the body, to keep the form clean and the resistance down.. Get rid of the annoyance of a rear-view mirror and make for more trunk- space.. This would allow for better use of space back there, maybe we'd see more mid-body engines, or REAL rear seats in sedans. Seen the X-10 ads? We HAVE the technology, we CAN rebuild it...

    Check out the ArsTechnica Honda Insight review..

    Yes, they're available on luxury models. There's no reason we can't have it on all cars. And these are peripheral to some of the other points I made.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    still have to have the mirrors (4.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Sikpup on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 12:10:59 AM EST

    Vector did the camera thing back in the early 80s. DOT said it still MUST have mirrors.

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah yeah (4.00 / 2) (#49)
    by jabber on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 09:37:58 AM EST

    But the question was what I would like, and this is it. The DOT would of course, in my private little world, change the rules once the technology was mature enough, which it is.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    Sensor information (none / 0) (#65)
    by dasunt on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 12:28:40 AM EST

    Old cars used to have gauges. My old beater, a 79 truck, has Oil Pressure, Temp, + Alt. Of course, most people don't know what the guages should be showing (low temp is okay, low oil pressure is not).

    That's when they moved to idiot lights. In an early 1980's Monte Carlo I owned, it had different lights for oil, alt, etc. (Fun car btw, its like driving a couch).

    Of course, this was too complicated for most people, so we have now devolved to one check engine light (to be fair, cars are a lot more reliable too).

    However, if you have (a) a semi-expensive gadget or (b) a paperclip or anything else that can be used to short out two wires in a connector, then its possible to pull trouble codes off most vehicles and consult a book to see what the vehicle is reporting (such as no signal from the O2 sensor.

    Just some info.

    [ Parent ]

    Yes! (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by djkimmel on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 02:12:43 PM EST

    A diagnostic system I don't need to go to the mechanic for. A "check engine" light means crap.. A "oxygen sensor fault. $35 part + 30 minutes labor" is much more useful. There's no reason that the fault code lookup table and a cheap LCD can not be made part of 'base equipment' at trivial cost, except that it gets the dealer money. A system that would do the diagnosis for you, and let you optionally set up an appointment with the service center of your choice, would be a nice thing.

    I would love this! My old Chrysler LeBaron would flash out trouble codes on the Power Loss light, but my new 2000 Cirrus doesn't. Granted, blinking out the trouble codes is rather pathetic, but it was not bad for an '85 car. My Cirrus has a nice VFD display to show the gear selection and trip/odometer - why not make this display show you trouble codes?

    This is NOT an out-of-reach goal either. The dash is just a computer that gets information from the Transmission Control Module (like speed), Powertrain Control Module (like RPMs and possibly fuel level), and Air Bag Control Module (the air bag warning light). There's a high speed network that links all of these together, and there's no reason that the dash computer couldn't grab the trouble codes out of the PCM.

    In fact, I think that if you hold the trip reset button and turn the key to ON without starting the car, you can get a 2001 Sebring to show you the codes. It works on my dad's Sebring Sedan and would probably work on the convertible, but not the coupe (the coupe is a rebadged Mitsubishi, not a genuine Chrysler). You still need a Haynes manual or something to tell you what they mean and how to fix it, but that's still cheaper than a dealer visit.

    Its a very small step to replace the VFD with a small dot matrix LCD and have a trouble code lookup table in the dash computer...
    -- Dave
    [ Parent ]

    Here We Go (3.75 / 4) (#30)
    by dyskordus on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 08:21:23 PM EST

  • 1970-73 Datsun 240Z
  • L24 Replaced with RB26DETT (Skyline engine)
  • Fuzzy Logic Boost Controller, with on the fly manual setting available
  • Good intercooler
  • Supplementary injectors that kick in under high boost
  • Water injection (for when I turn the boost up to obscene levels)
  • 6 Speed Transmission
  • 4.11:1 Limited Slip Differential
  • Stiff suspension
  • An air dam so it doesn't do a sommersault
  • Radar detector

    "Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.
  • true dual-transmission (4.16 / 6) (#33)
    by sneakcjj on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 09:28:50 PM EST

    I think driving a manual transmission car is A LOT of fun, automatic is just plain boring. But during the daily commute to work traffic SUCKS in a manual. I would like see a setting for manual tranmissions to automatically shift into first if I want it to (useful during stop and go traffic).

    I don't want one of those manual/auto hybrids that only offer a +/- for shifting. I want a manual with some automatic features, not vice versa.

    Standard/Auto Transmission would be nice! (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by DrEvil on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 03:39:28 PM EST

    I have thought of this before too, it would be great. Like you said driving a standard is lots of fun, but sometimes you just don't want to bother shifting.

    The transmission could be something like this:
    R 1 3
    | | |
    A 2 4

    Stick'er in A and you are now driving an automatic, otherwise it's a standard transmission.

    For those of you that are familiar with Snowmobile (and some other vehicles) transmissions, that would be my ideal transmission! You'd probably have to come up with something other than a belt or a super-strong unbreakable belt[tm] because I would think you'd be breaking belts quite often in a car.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with this type of transmission, basically it is two clutches that are joined by a belt. The clutches adjust the tension on the belt, i.e. the belt gets tighter the faster the engine revs which makes you go faster. The acceleration using such a system is just unreal! Snowmobiles can blow away cars off the line with ease.

    To me, snowmobile type transmissions are almost the perfect system. The downfalls are, like I mentioned breaking belts and if you get the belt wet it doesn't operate well. Hopefully a car-grade transmission like this will be created in the near future!

    [ Parent ]
    CVT (none / 0) (#78)
    by cronio on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 07:16:36 PM EST

    Continuously Variable Transmission. The new Audi A4 has an option for it (2003 version I think...not out yet), as well as a new Honda (can't remember which one).

    [ Parent ]
    Well, then... (none / 0) (#72)
    by YesNoCancel on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:23:38 PM EST

    ...buy a car with a tiptronic.

    I drive a Mercedes Smart with a 6-speed tiptronic transmission (great car btw, has a fuel efficiency of around 80 MPG and is one of the safest cars available). The transmission stick looks like this:

    -  |

    In manual mode, you move the stick forward/back to shift. In automatic mode (can be toggled at any time with a button on the left side of the stick) the car operates just like an automatic car.

    I'm driving mostly automatic in town and manual when outside or on the highway.

    [ Parent ]

    Read the parent comment. (none / 0) (#75)
    by simon farnz on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 02:50:41 PM EST

    He wants a full 12345 shift, with an automatic mode, not an up-down tip with an automatic mode.
    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
    [ Parent ]
    That's just not possible (none / 0) (#76)
    by YesNoCancel on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 03:25:22 PM EST

    Or at least very complicated = expensive = not marketable.

    The linkage for the gear will have to be moved by a servo in automatic mode. In manual mode you'd have to bypass the servo, which is mechanically complicated and potentially fault-prone. Additionally you would need a clutch pedal, which would need the same mechanism for switching between clutch servo/manual linkage operated by the pedal mechanically.

    Of course you could remove the clutch pedal and have the clutch operated by servo only, and remove the mechanical linkage for the gear (so the position of the stick tells the servo which gear to shift to). But then it's nothing more than a tiptronic/sequential transmission with a different transmission layout and lots of potential problems (example: what happens if you shift from fifth to first at, say 100 km/h - a tiptronic transmission won't let you do that, doing that with a true manual transmission would probably damage the gear, what should a tiptronic with a manual transmission layout do? Declutch and possibly confuse the driver? Accept and let the driver ruin the gear?).

    Tiptronic transmission is the closest to manual/automatic in one car you can get.

    [ Parent ]

    Two random musings for the price of one (3.75 / 4) (#35)
    by jd on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 10:29:06 PM EST

    First, I DON'T particularly want the technological innovation that British cars are going to be (have been?) fitted with -- automatic speed regulators.

    These are supposed to work by knowing where you are (via GPS) and then looking up to see what the speed limit is where you are, then cutting the throttle if you exceed that limit.

    In theory, this means everyone HAS to stick to the speed limits, especially on side-streets. An end to the "rat runs"! (Now, that WOULD be a good thing.)

    In practice, I can imagine people selling kits to "upgrade" routes, discretely. Want 100 MPH on the M1? Not a problem, sir, that'll be 25 GBP for the patch kit.

    Ok, that's what I don't want. So, what WOULD I want?

    Regenerative brakes would be kinda cool. Those being the kind of brakes that also act as dynamos, literally converting your forward momentum into electrical power.

    Those traction controls that Formula 1 played with a while back, to remove wheel-spin - that could be neat. Especially if it was adaptive, so that it allowed for things like mud, snow, ice, etc. It would make winter driving a whole lot safer.

    Active Suspension has been played with for decades, so where is it??? It still doesn't exist for the vast majority of cars in existance. Four-point active suspension, with all that modern technology has to offer, could be realy nice.

    Then, you can get computer recordings of the sound of a car, at various speeds. Play those 180 degrees out of phase, and the inside of the car is absolutely silent. Super-impose the vehicle of your choice. Suddenly, you're driving a 1940's Spitfire, or a 1200's Viking Longship.

    As for other car components - I think we can do better than a primitive radiator for cooling. Especially as the air-flow through it won't be that great. You can improve traction immediately by simply rotating the fan to pull air UP into the car. The bigger the fan, the greater the suction. Link it to the throttle, and you'll have one of the greatest inventions Lotus ever came up with.

    Computers are best, though, at optimization problems. However, there simply aren't that many, in cars as they are currently designed. There are no real variables you can play with. Gearing might be one target area, as that's a fairly complex task that is amenable to algorithmic solutions.

    Computers for gimics will always die off, in the end, though, as there'll ALWAYS be something better down the road. Or up the road. Or round the corner.

    What automatic speed regulators? (4.33 / 3) (#42)
    by simon farnz on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 06:30:27 AM EST

    AIUI, Ford have demonstrated that such a technology is possible; no one has yet suggested it should be fitted to a production vehicle. For a start, the liability issues in the event of an accident are horrendous: imagine that the car stops you accelerating beyond 20 in a 70 limit, because the database is wrong and it thinks you are in a 20 limit zone; someone comes round a bend at 60 and smashes into the back of you. The carmaker might end up sharing the blame there.

    FWIW, I would like to see manual speed limiters fitted to all cars. You would set the speed limit with a simple rotary switch (say off, then 20-70 in 10mph increments), and it would cut out if you floored the pedal (like kickdown in an auto). It would leave idiot drivers with no excuse for speeding into an accident (as they chose not to set the limiter), but it would allow you to accelerate out of trouble, or to ignore it if you feel you are good enough at driving
    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
    [ Parent ]

    In the UK... (2.50 / 2) (#43)
    by jd on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:16:23 AM EST

    A law was passed a year or so ago, making automatic speed regulators mandatory in all motorized road vehicles. I forget exactly when the law is to come into effect.

    If marriage was banned, only outlaws would have inlaws.

    [ Parent ]

    Any references? (none / 0) (#46)
    by simon farnz on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:28:31 AM EST

    Do you have any references available? I would be interested in seeing how the law addresses the liability issue, and how they intend to implement it. (It certainly isn't going to come into effect any time soon, as no cars in the local showroom are fitted with them).
    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
    [ Parent ]
    Previous posting just wrong (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by jo95017 on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 09:12:50 AM EST

    No such law was passed, nor would it be likely given the Europeanisation of most transport law. It has occasionally been suggested in the press, but no further action taken.
    -- and I would rather be anywhere else than here today
    [ Parent ]
    Uh ... (none / 0) (#60)
    by aphrael on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 04:26:17 PM EST

    what do you think cruise control is except an automagic speed regulator where the regulatory speed is set by the driver? *puzzled look* While the politics behind its use might be different, the technology involved is *identical*.

    [ Parent ]
    My previous subject was confusing (none / 0) (#68)
    by simon farnz on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 05:48:49 AM EST

    I meant automatic speed limiter of course :-)

    In general, I am against any remote control of my vehicle that cannot be overridden from the driver's seat; I don't mind incurring increased liability if I do override the controls, as the only good reason to do so is to avoid an accident. I do object to becoming involved in an accident because (for example) the car would not let me accelerate hard to avoid being hit in the side by someone who has jumped the lights.
    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
    [ Parent ]

    Lotus had a sound-themeable car (none / 0) (#66)
    by odaiwai on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 03:18:31 AM EST

    It was some beat up old citroen and they were using it to test damping and sound generating technology. One of the things they had in it was the ability to sound like different engines. An article about it said that it always got driven harder when it was sounding like a Porsche V8 (928?).

    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]
    Gadgets (3.33 / 6) (#36)
    by Verminator on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 10:34:02 PM EST

    As many gadgets as you can possibly wire in. I want my car's interior to look like the cockpit of a 747. I want to be nearly blinded by blinking lights and guages at night.

    • GPS. Tied into a central traffic computer somewhere that tells me of potential slow spots and gives me several alternate routes to choose from. I want it to talk.
    • HUD. I know they allready have these, but I don't just want to see my speed and fuel level. I want a tachometer, full engine readout, ETA and directional arrows from my GPS, speed readouts for the surrounding cars, temperature (interior and exterior), the current music selection, and anything else that might possibly be usefull.
    • Afterburner of some type. I don't care how it's implemented, I just want an increase in horsepower when I throw a lever or flip a switch. You've seen Mad Max
    • Everything Speed Racer has. The cutters, the off-road wheel wraps, the homing pigeon, the submersible capabilities. Everything. You never know when it might come in handy. And I want it to be controlled from buttons on the steering wheel like his.
    • Defensive counter measures. Oil slicks, ejection seats, retractable machine guns, armor plating. I want my car to put the Batmobile and everything James Bond has ever driven put to shame.
    • Luxury. I want large leather seats that adjust in any way imaginable, I want two sunroofs, a climate control zone for every occupant, doors that open with a touch of my hand (no handles), attractive styling, a back seat the size of a twin bed, and most importantly, trunk space. If I could cram all these gadgets into my Lincoln Town Car I'd be set.
    That's a pretty good start, I'm sure I can think of some more, but if I could just get this stuff I'll be happy.

    Actually, it looks like what a really want is an F-16 fighter jet incorporated into a Cadillac.

    Who are the madmen who built cars so long they cannot be parked, and are hard to turn at corners. Vehicles with hideous tailfins, full of gadgets and cov

    Afterburner (4.50 / 2) (#50)
    by jabber on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 09:46:09 AM EST

    These are already out there, and have been for quite some time. They're Nitrous Oxide kits that pump NOx into the engine providing a very intense burst of power. These kits tend to put very severe stress on your engine, causing it to heat hard and wear very fast, but they will put you deep into your backrest. They are illegal on the street, but if you know of a shop that is staffed by 'enthusiasts', odds are you can have one installed. Then, all you have to do is turn a knob to open the gas, and when you're ready, push the red button - and hold on.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    Nitrous Oxide... (none / 0) (#56)
    by DangerGrrl on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 02:09:55 PM EST

    As in the same stuff they use to propell whipcream out of cans?
    As in the same thing Dentists give you to breathe before drilling?

    I could see why this would be illegal on the streets... but not because of the speed boost.

    [ Parent ]
    Nitrous.. so many uses (none / 0) (#62)
    by Verminator on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 05:19:08 PM EST

    It slowed me down last time I took it.

    Who are the madmen who built cars so long they cannot be parked, and are hard to turn at corners. Vehicles with hideous tailfins, full of gadgets and cov
    [ Parent ]

    Nitrous (none / 0) (#61)
    by Verminator on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 05:13:10 PM EST

    I prefer the stuff recreationally

    It's a possiblity, I was leaning more towards the Mad Max supercharger with a switch idea though. I'd like something that was good for more than a limited number of uses. Nitrous tends to empty pretty quickly.

    Who are the madmen who built cars so long they cannot be parked, and are hard to turn at corners. Vehicles with hideous tailfins, full of gadgets and cov
    [ Parent ]

    I'll take everything from the Uncle Albert's #1 (3.33 / 3) (#39)
    by thunderbee on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 02:19:40 AM EST

    and then some pieces from the #2.
    The vulcan MG is an all-time favorite of mine :-)

    Someone remembers Car Wars (none / 0) (#52)
    by georgeha on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 11:10:19 AM EST

    I wasted so many hours of my teens playing that.

    [ Parent ]
    My number one item (4.33 / 3) (#44)
    by nobbystyles on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:18:38 AM EST

    Is a car that drives me home when I am too drunk or drugged to drive...

    I want (2.00 / 3) (#51)
    by mrgoat on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 09:58:56 AM EST

    Land based nuclear road torpedoes. I want a cannon to easily eliminate other vehicles. I want a flamethrower to easily eliminate enemy infantry.... err... I mean "pedestrians".

    Barring that, how about a device that makes the other people around me smarter? Then maybe I wouldn't need 6 inches of armored plating, a 5 point harness, and warning lights up the wazoo to warn me and keep me safe from the woman to my left in the SUV talking on the cell phone, yelling at her kids, eating a healthy yet still delicious vegetarian roll-up on wheat bread, while trying to fire off a fax, finish her big report, and drive all at the same time.

    Or maybe I should just hit her with the road torpedo.

    "I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
    --Top Hat--

    My demands are simple! (3.00 / 1) (#54)
    by DrEvil on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 01:33:14 PM EST

    I want an MP3/OGG player with it's own onboard storage with lots of space. It shall also have CD/DVD* audio capabilities and it can rip those mediums on the fly onto the onboard storage. It shall also have high speed internet access so I can play on-line radio station at no less than CD quality. I should also be able to download songs off the net, Napster style. The system should also sync audio collections with nearby cars who also have a similar system. When I pull into my driveway I want the system to also connect to my home computer and sync up thier audio collections.

    It is unsafe having to change CD's while driving, it makes it even harder if you have to swap out a CD in your changer, in your trunk (good thing for cruse control)! Because of this, such a system would be great to have, while making your car just a bit safer to boot

    All of this (well except maybe the high-speed wireless internet) is all very possible as of right now and is nothing new, it is just mearly extending what the car radio can do today.

    * if DVD audio ever makes it to market that is.

    I want a basic car (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by wiredog on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 01:59:03 PM EST

    Something like a 1966 VW Bug.

    The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.

    Slightly off-topic, but only partly... (4.50 / 2) (#57)
    by sab39 on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 02:11:28 PM EST

    I've often wondered, because I don't know much about the technology: is MagLev something that could ever be used in a car?

    My thought was to have an appropriately surfaced road and put the bulk of the MagLev equipment (whatever that entails) on the bottom of the car. The car itself could then lift and propel itself along any appropriately-surfaced road. Steering would be an issue, of course, as would braking, but I'm just curious about whether it could *ever* feasibly be done.

    Is there something about MagLev that prohibits a free-floating, independently maneuvered vehicle operating on a "normal" (but, obviously, with a special surface) road?

    And when will I be able to buy a MagLev toy train set?

    Okay, it's probably a stupid suggestion. But I'd like to know *why* it is.

    "Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
    "Quinze" -- Amélie

    maglev train set (none / 0) (#67)
    by odaiwai on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 03:22:36 AM EST

    Go find an old refrigerator. Look at the door sealing mechism. Chances are it's a long plastic strip with a sort of flexibe magnet inside. Remove this. Buy some lego. Make a little train with a short strip of magnet on the bottom and make a track with a long strip of magnet. If you orient the train in the right way, it'll hover above the track (you'll probably need siderails on the track. Play.

    I remember doing that when I was a young'un.

    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]
    Ooo ooo oo oo I know! (4.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Kasreyn on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 07:25:46 PM EST

    I have an idea!

    As standard equipment on all SUV's: a powerful explosive device in the engine with a detonator tuned to a common (and publicized) frequency. As standard equipment on all OTHER cars, a button which transmits a signal on this frequency. So when some big dumb fat fuck in a Ford Expedition prevents you from seeing anything in the entire 180 degrees in front of you, you can remove him and coincidentally make the road safer for everyone.

    Or better yet, as standard equipment in SUV's: an automatic tire-deflator, which is activated by turning a key in the ignition.



    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    back off a little bit (none / 0) (#95)
    by encoded on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 08:28:46 AM EST

    As a driver of a full-size pickup, I can only retaliate with one thing... Back off big trucks' rear-ends a little bit. Half the time I can't even see the headlights of the person in my rear-view mirror, and that is TOO close. Hence why you can't see $hit. Back off a bit, I guarantee you'll see more (or at least you won't have me flipping you the bird). e.

    [ Parent ]
    Real Bumpers, Gas Milage Please (4.00 / 1) (#64)
    by AArthur on Wed Sep 05, 2001 at 10:10:54 PM EST

    Car bumpers are extermely lame nowdays. Most of them are made out of plastic (at least plastic casing). Those plastic bumpers all to easily get bent out of shape (or at least scratched up and dented) at the lowest speeds. They can't take an accidental backing up into a tree or any other object, or even worst, a low speed parking lot collision. External metal bumpers don't look cool, and create some drag, but they work well.

    I think congress should create laws that require car makers to make bumpers that sustain no damage at low speed (less then 10 MPH), but still maintain high speed safety standards. Yes corprates will bitch about the new standards, and how much it will raise prices, and change car designs, but in the long run it will be good.

    The other thing is require far better fuel efficency. If we require 40 MPG average for cars in 5 years and 30 MPG average for Pickups and SUVs in 5 years, it should be attainable. Maybe a $1 fine for every MPG below for every vechicle would work to make automakers go for the neccessary changes. Of course these numbers would probably get modified to something more sensible like a 30 MPG average for cars and 25 MPG for trucks.

    Personally I want this in a truck:

    - Good Gas Milage. It's possible, if we push engine design technology to it's limits. I'm talking around 30 MPG.
    - All Wheel Drive. So it's working all of the time. ;)
    - Power. Both towing power, and good passing/merging acceleration.
    - 6 Speed Automatic with ShiftTronic.
    - Comfort for somebody 6'6" and 290 lbs.
    - Bumpers that can stand a slow collision.
    - and some other nicities....

    Of course I'll never be able to all those things, and I'd never be able to afford all that shit, so I'd be happy with a compact pickup like one of the Toyotas manuals that get good gas milege.

    Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264

    Few things (none / 0) (#80)
    by strlen on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 08:04:57 PM EST

    30 mpg on one of the heavier trucks would be rather hard to accomplish. And people NEED heavy-tow trucks with large engines, and there's no point in punishing them with heavier car prices. The only possible way of getting 30 mpg and having upwards of 180 hp on an automobile is by forced induction, which will also require premium gas and reduce reliability, especially with gasoline engines. Plus turbo-chargers which deliever the most power are impractical for truck, which need constant power: a turbo charger spools up and puts the engine under boost only when you're revving the engine, while it's good for spirited driving in a sports car, it's bad for hauling large weights. Sometimes it's needed to have something like a Ford F-150 for one type of job or another. And that same person, if not penalized by higher prices, can also own a Civic or a Corolla,so they can get their 34 MPG when they don't need to use the pickup.

    Automatics have one inherent problem with them: drive train loss, caused by the torque converted (a.k.a. the slushbox). Thus if you want better performance, and better fuel economy, stick is still the way to go. BMW however, has a rather neat system, called traffic jam mode. When stop-and-go traffic is detected by the ECU, transmission enters a state where you won't stall in first or second gear. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it's a possible alternative to the automatics and conventional stick. There'sa also other alternatives like CVT transmissions and air-clutches that I haven't read up on, possibly a good replacement for both conventional sticks and slushbox autos.

    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    Bumpers (none / 0) (#82)
    by Merk00 on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 08:23:05 PM EST

    As far as the bumper issue goes, I doubt you can make a bumper that is stiff enough to withstand a 10 mph impact and still be safe in high speed crashes. The reason for this is that the bumper is an important part of the crumple zones. This helps to slow the car down in case of impact. If the bumper is hard, it could do a lot of nasty things to the passengers.

    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    Mid 1980's bumpers (4.00 / 1) (#89)
    by epepke on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 01:58:54 PM EST

    Back in the mid 1980's, there was a period where all cars had to have 5 mph bumpers, which were typically good for much more. They stuck out a bit, but they were great. Then people griped about how they added $350 or so to the purchase price, and they went back to 3.5 mph bumpers. Current passengar car bumpers are also required by law to fall off when struck.

    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

    [ Parent ]
    What I want standard in cars (none / 0) (#79)
    by strlen on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 07:54:43 PM EST

    Here's the basic safety equipment, I'd like to see more off, especially in entry-level sports cars and econoboxes:

    * Rear fog light. It's a single light, that can be found in the tail lights, as a part of them, which is particularly usefull when driving in fog. It's a standard feature on many cars in Europe.
    * Side airbag protection. Pretty much self explanatory.

    Here's, some of the performance equipment I'd like to see more off:

    * A compromise between displacement and efficiency, between high-revving capabilities and low-end power, between a smooth torque curve and a great peak HP rating. One example of such are Toyota's Inline-Six engines, used in cars like Lexus IS300, Supra (both naturally aspirated and turbo versions), BMW Inline-Six engines (The 3.0 in m3, making 333 hp, though much less torque, but still plenty of it -- which won the engine of the year award).
    * Other engines worth mentioning are Volkswagen Audi Gruppe's 1.8L single-turbo, 20-valve 4-cylinder DOHC, the 1.8T found on Golfs, Jettas, Beetles, Passat's, A4's and the TT. The engine is simply amazing. For 17k, you can buy the basic low-end Golf or a Jetta, which delivers 150 or 180 hp (depending on the year of manufacture), and is combined with 2800 curb weight. The neat thing is the after market for the 1.8T: you can use an after market ecu software ("chip tune"), to easily get 200+ hp's(not sure the exact number) and 245 lb/ft of torque. With a five-speed or a six-speed (available for 2002 models), that gives you a 0-60 time of about 6.0. And the chip upgrade costs about $400, add to that a stronger divert valve, and you still won't top $1000. So for under 20 thousands, you have rather quick car. Forced induction is the way of the future. The WRX for instance uses a 2.0L super charged engine to go 0-60 in 5.8 seconds.
    * Rotary engines. Mazda's RX-7 and RX-8 are an example. 1.3L, two-chamber, some trims included a twin-turbo. Combined with a light RWD car, gets a 50/50 weight distribution and 1.02 G's on the skidpad. You can pick up a earlier generation N/A RX-7 for about $5,000 and use after market tuning to exceed 300 hp.
    * Turbo Diesels as a substitute of 1.5L four-bangers, for economy cars. VW's 1.9 turbo-diesel (TDI) delievers you a 49 mpg rating. 90 hp, and 150 lb/ft of torque on the US spec version, and 110 hp on the European version (the HP rating is up there with current Civics/Proteges, but there's much more torque and a better mile per gallon rating, as well as ability to use cheap diesel.

    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    Automatic Slow Down (none / 0) (#83)
    by Merk00 on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 08:34:07 PM EST

    I want a radar system in cars that will slow you down when you get too close to another car. This would prevent tail gating as you just couldn't get that close. It'd also help to reduce rear end collisions because if the car ahead of you isn't moving, you should be moving very slowly at most.

    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission

    Horrible idea (4.00 / 1) (#93)
    by trhurler on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 04:34:34 PM EST

    Any computer based system that simple that "decides" for you is a bad system. Human judgement, flawed though it can be, is superior to any such trivial rule based system; there are cases where the alternative to rear ending someone is worse than the collision itself.

    That's the problem with do-gooders - they always seize on some simple-sounding "solution" to a problem that is not simple and which they do not usually themselves understand very well, and insist that these "solutions" be mandatory.

    In addition, what if it malfunctions? Do you really want to be slammed to a stop all of a sudden on the highway? Will you accept that? Of course not; you would want to sue someone. Machines should not make decisions for people; this is a foolish idea. When you've got a machine that's at least as smart as your average person, let me know, but til then, keep your grubby do-gooder hands off my damned car.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Cars (3.00 / 2) (#87)
    by DGolden on Sat Sep 08, 2001 at 05:15:44 AM EST

    What I want from cars is for the damned internal combustion piston engine to go away. Car and oil companies are simply sitting on patents that could remove some of our society's dependence on oil. Patents do eventually expire, but there's evidence they've paid off even more people so that their inventions never, ever see the light of day. (there are allegations they've had people "disappeared" too, but that's not proven...)

    Of course they do this - it's sound business sense. But it's crap for society.

    Don't eat yellow snow
    Perhaps you're on dope? (3.00 / 3) (#92)
    by trhurler on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 04:30:39 PM EST

    First of all, what patents? They're publicly accessible, you know - a patent is there for all to read. There's no point in "disappearing" anyone or paying him off once you patent something. You apparently are too ignorant to know that. So, if all these patents are being "sat upon," go to IBM's web accessible patent database with search engine, look them up, and show me.

    Second, the internal combustion engine is one of the most efficient engines in its power class that we have. What do you suggest we replace it with, and powered by what? I could see running hydrogen as fuel in an engine, which would burn cleaner and whatnot, but that's still an engine.

    Also, hiding new technologies is not sound business sense, despite the claims made in order to create plots for bad spy movies. You'd make a shitty businessman.

    You obviously have seen too many X Files episodes. Lay off the Nutjob Weekly conspiracy rag, man.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Actually (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by DGolden on Wed Sep 12, 2001 at 06:02:26 AM EST

    Actually, I have a masters in mechancial engineering (from UMIST, Manchester, U.K.) . I could design and build an engine for your car. But if I made it significantly better than current engines (which I could, just by using some of the publically availble, but patented, details), and I wasn't already working for a car or oil company, I'd be in court in a flash, of course. If I *was* working for such a company, at best, they'd schedule the engine for gradual introduction many years in the future, after they've milked previous ones for all they're worth.

    Just as people outside the software industry have little idea just how corrupt it is, people outside the engineering industry don't always realise the sheer scale of the corruption in the automotive manufacturing arena. You know the way microsoft repeatedly invent cool stuff in their research labs, then it very seldom materialises in any of their products? Same thing, but companies producing tangibles are much better at it - they've had much more practice than MS, and there's worldwide protection for physical patents, rather than the only USA-wide protection software patents currently provide.

    The I.C. engine is reasonably efficient when run at constant speed. The way it's used in most cars is horrendously inefficient. It's actually more energy-efficient to use an I.C. piston engine running at constant speed, to drive a generator, to then drive electric motors (which themselves aren't all that great at changing speed, it has to be said). Replacing the I.C. engine with a small constant-speed gas turbine yields much better efficiency.

    Also, you appear to have mis-read my post. Admittedly, I wasn't clear enough. The patented inventions are only the tip of the iceberg. They're the ones the oil companies are WILLING to phase in, gradually, provided they control their introduction - e.g. amorphous polymer batteries, more efficient catalyst matrices for fuel cells, key bits and pieces required for implementing aforementioned micro-gas-turbines, yada, yada, yada. I'd provide links to the IBM patent server, but it's down right now - the amount of cool stuff that Shell alone has patented is scary. Most of the patented technologies that are useful will eventually be introduced - but very slowly, so as not to rock the boat.

    The ownership of the patents means that the oil companies can be sure that THEY are the ones who will control the introduction and, to a large degree, the future directions, of such technologies. Since patents last approx. 20 years, give or take, it is only around now that we are seeing (at least here in europe, dunno about the states), the introduction of petrol-electric hybrid cars, despite the fact all the requisite technological issues were worked out by the mid-80s, so much so that they are standard material in undergrad engineering thermodynamics courses. It's pretty soul-destroying, actually - you spend a few years learning about all these wonderful things humanity could be doing, then get into industry and it's "no, that's not going to happen, we'd make less profits that way.". It's enough to turn you communist, except that people seem to be intrinsically too selfish and corrupt for communism to work on a large scale.

    There are possibly many more inventions, which, often with the support of various governments, have been unceremoniously squashed, never even getting as far as a patent server (you do know the U.S. government has extra-ordinary powers to seal a patent until an arbitrary date at the future, in the interests of "national security", don't you?). These rumoured inventions are ones with the potential to collapse the current oil-based world economy.

    My advice if you ever come up with something like that - DON'T try to profit from it, release the details far and wide on the internet and as many other channels as possible.
    Don't eat yellow snow
    [ Parent ]

    So as a mechanic and a bodyman i'd like (none / 0) (#88)
    by j zeet on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 01:07:38 AM EST

    engine and drive units i could get out in a half an hr- Bodys and brackets that were'nt designed to rot in 5 yrs- standardized fittings and bolts- drive units that would have ten year compatibility- i vote for ballard feul cells-

    I want two simple things (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by djkimmel on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 02:26:46 PM EST

    One, sensors on the rear bumper to detect objects and warn me that I'm about to hit something. I want this standard. Or, at least, standard on cars that have poor rearward visibility. Like SUVs and almost any Chrysler product (I own one, I know how bad they are for this).

    Two, I want a stereo that has an auxilary input. Some Aiwa decks have this, but I want it in the factory stereo. Then I could plug my MD walkman/CD player/laptop/Nomad Jukebox/whatever comes next into it without using a horrible cassette tape adapter. I used to do this with a CD player and one day it pissed me off so much that I impulse bought a better car stereo. With stereos becoming more and more integrated with the car, and harder to replace as a result, I would like to see this standard too.
    -- Dave
    What techology for Automobiles? | 95 comments (95 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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