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When did cars get so complicated?

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It used to be that you got in your car, started it up by turning a key in the ignition, put it in gear, and off you went. Not any more.

We got a call from the dealership that our license plates came in and we should schedule an appointment to pick them up and go through the onboarding process.

We did that this afternoon. Getting the plates put on the car was easy enough.

The onboarding, while easy, was complex.

Basically, one of the guys at the dealership is in charge of the onboarding experience. He sits with you at your car, and explains all the features available to you.

He was quite thorough and very pleasant, but it was almost information overload. He covered a lot of stuff in the forty minutes or so that we were with him.

There is the cruise control system. Before, you picked a speed, set the cruise control for that speed, pressed a button and the car moved at that speed. Now you do mostly the same thing, but the car adapts to cars in front of you. If you set the cruise control to 55 miles per hour (88.51 KPH for those of you using the metric system) and the car in front of you is going 48 MPH (77 KPH) then the car slows down and matches speed to the car in front. When it changes speed, your car changes speed. You can also set the time interval, which affects the distance between your car and the car in front, by how many seconds you want. Two seconds would have you closer to the car in front, bigger numbers put you farther away.

There is assistive braking. So, if you are in stop-and-go traffic, you can press on the brake and your car will stay in place, even if you take your foot off the brake.

There are systems to keep you driving in your lane.

There are multiple ways to open and close all the doors of the car.

There is the main console that is much more like having a tablet computer instead of a dashboard. You can get the radio, tie in your phone, get mileage and car updates, keep track of your trips. You can even set your birthday so the car can wish you a ‘happy birthday’ on your day. Our rep walked through all sorts of settings for the car that we entered on the main panel.

I’m a tech guy, and while I found all of it interesting and fun, I had to wonder if it really did anything to enhance the driving experience. I guess I have gotten used to the car unlocking itself when you approach instead of having to put a key in the lock or push a button on the key fob. I’ll probably adapt to all the other changes too.

Ultimately I’m guessing all the changes are to get people used to the car doing some of the driving tasks in preparation of the day that self-driving cars are dominant on the roads. I have often said that self-driving cars are the way to go, given the number of accidents that humans get into. There were three minor accidents on our home from the dealership. Later today I ran an errand and there was a major accident on the freeway at the next exit down the road from us. It’s a common occurrence on the roads around town. I have to wonder if they would have happened if the cars had been self-driving.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to see if I can adapt to assisted braking.

If you’d like to support my efforts, why not buy me a chocolate chip cookie through my Ko-Fi page?

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