Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Technology Delivers Safer, Smarter Vehicle

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Technology Delivers Safer, Smarter Vehicle

Article excerpt

BOSTON (NYT) -- The automotive future is hurtling at us. Technology is advancing as fast as new products can be put into production. And, as soon as they are introduced, the new and improved versions are coming off the drawing boards.

Coming up, we're sure to see more electric-internal combustion hybrids such as the Honda Insight or Toyota Prius.

The fuel cell someday will magically turn hydrogen or other gases into power, with only a little water coming out the exhaust pipe.

Navigation systems will evolve from direction-finding aides to autopilot systems connected to smart highways, leaving the actual driving to Big Brother.

While that's clearly a long way off, existing systems already have improved greatly in the last year. Acura, for example, has updated its system so that it tells you -- well in advance -- of coming turns. That's a big improvement from the original units that alerted you to take a left just as you arrived at an intersection.

It's certain that our vehicles increasingly will be connected to the Internet as new generations of systems such as GM's OnStar, which already provides wireless roadside assistance and limited Internet access, evolve. Indeed, Ford and Visteon are developing competing systems.

Can you see where this is heading?

The notion of a mobile office isn't far off. Already, we see cars with phones, copiers, fax machines, television screens, and computer connections. Is it farfetched to envision a minivan set up as office cubicles with folks wired-in and working en route to their sales calls or offices?

What about satellite radio? It promises that someday you'll be able to pick your stations as you drive across the country without having to reconfigure your radio every hour or so.

To many of us, the novelty of having steering wheel buttons to adjust the radio and CD player, activate a telephone, or change the interior temperature is amazing.

But we haven't seen anything yet.

The furor over cell-phone usage will become moot as voice- activated systems come into vogue. …

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