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Smart Cars: Too Distracting?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the yes-it-keeps-beeping-at-me-when-i-try-to-catch-a-quick-nap dept.

Transportation 180

Taco Cowboy writes "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them. But as those devices creep into the driving experience, they offer the driver an increasing number of displays to monitor. Thus, drivers are more distracted than ever. At the recent 'Connected Car Expo,' which was held in Los Angeles, panelists discussed how these smart car features can impair driving ability. For example, researchers led by Bruce Mehler at MIT revealed that drivers using voice command interfaces to control in-car navigation systems or USB-connected music devices can end up spending longer with their eyes off the road than those using conventional systems. You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems. (Tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system."

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180 comments

Better you look the road (4, Interesting)

Ateocinico (32734) | about 4 months ago | (#45659445)

I dreamed of a custom computer system for my car. After just installing the video screen and audio system, I realized exactly that: you either drive or you manipulate the gadgetry. Let's put the intelligence where it belongs in a car: under the hood. Or go for a self driving car Google style.

Re:Better you look the road (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659499)

Self driving car like Google's?

No. See, when I was testing one, it kept taking me to places where it thought I would be interested in - places that paid Google for ads.

So, instead to my destination, the Google car took me to McDonald's, then to Penny's and lastly to HomeDepot for their big sale.

The really scary part was when it got on the Interstate to take me to Amazon because they have some online Christmas thing going on. That would have been a long drive since I'm on the East Coast.

There were also these black SUVs that always seemed to know where I was going, too.

Re:Better you look the road (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659547)

Yeah, adding the ``I'm feeling lucky'' button perhaps wasn't the best idea - we'll fix it in the next release of our car!

Regards,
Automotive Engineering Team
Google Inc.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660521)

LOL.

That is all.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659549)

You do realize you have a license plate at this very moment that can be used to track you right? And you're probably holding a cell phone.

I would gladly take a one stop detour a day along my known interest areas if it meant that my chances of dying in an accident were reduced significantly. Hell they could even lower the cost of the vehicle by running advertisements in the car via screen or custom radio.

Anyone who gives a shit will find you regardless of the technology you use.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659917)

"You shouldn't worry about your lack of privacy because you already have none" has always been a /great argument/...
Why do people accept this false premise in the first place?

Re:Better you look the road (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659531)

I dreamed of a custom computer system for my car. After just installing the video screen and audio system, I realized exactly that: you either drive or you manipulate the gadgetry. Let's put the intelligence where it belongs in a car: under the hood. Or go for a self driving car Google style.

I'm glad you identified where the true intelligence is, because it's certainly not contained within the average driver.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 4 months ago | (#45659591)

Thing is, it doesn't take an enormous amount of intelligence to drive. Otherwise we'd have PhD grads driving trucks.

Re:Better you look the road (4, Insightful)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 4 months ago | (#45659643)

Thing is, it doesn't take an enormous amount of intelligence to drive. Otherwise we'd have PhD grads driving trucks.

Your PhD grad probably couldn't drive a truck.

Re:Better you look the road (2)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45659695)

Your PhD grad probably couldn't drive a truck.

Your average truck driver would also be unable to drive a truck, if not being taught how to.

Given the same level of truck driving education, i daresay the PhD grad would likely do better, because of more likeliness that he better understands driving physics.

Re:Better you look the road (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#45659769)

Given the same level of truck driving education, i daresay the PhD grad would likely do better, because of more likeliness that he better understands driving physics.

Except we've all seen evidence of PhDs having an awesome theoretical grasp of something, and absolutely zero practical grasp of something.

I'm betting you can find people who can write you the equations, but not actually perform the task because they don't have the coordination or motor skills.

I'm not convinced what you say is true, because I've seen a fair few people with a PhD who could barely operate a revolving door. Because, in some cases, the more you understand the underlying physics, the less you've ever done anything involving them and live in your own little bubble.

My guess, take 10 high school students who enrolled in shop, and 10 PhD grads, give them each a month of training -- and you'll find a bias towards the high school students being pretty good, and the PhD grads being terrifying. I'm not saying ALL PhD grads, but I'm saying enough to be statistically significant.

Re:Better you look the road (2)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#45660053)

I am personally acquainted with several MIT graduates that know how to operate heavy machinery, know how to go rock-crawling in old Jeeps, know how to quarter-mile drag-race in the eleven-second range, and my wife, also an MIT graduate, was a competitive ballroom dancer for a time.

I have five friends with PhDs, and all of them have had hands-on experience with equipment in getting their doctorates.

You're dreaming if you think that smart people are inept at interacting with the physical world in any way different than the regular population. If they were so terrible at it, their insurance rates would be higher than average, not lower than average.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660203)

I am personally acquainted with several MIT graduates that know how to operate heavy machinery, know how to go rock-crawling in old Jeeps, know how to quarter-mile drag-race in the eleven-second range, and my wife, also an MIT graduate, was a competitive ballroom dancer for a time.

Yeah, and I can cherry pick anecdotes as well. Short version: I'm sure you know these people.. and I'm sure they're not typical.

I work at a tier-1 research school with over a thousand doctorates, and being the masters degreed Philistine in the room I'd put my money on the grandparent's assertion. Having been in the military, worked as both a computer scientist and electronics technician, and having remodeled houses for a time, I'll put the average blue collar guy up against the majority of PhD wielding "inch wide and a mile deep" grads any day.

Or as I like to say: drop me and them in behind enemy lines with 20 meters of paracord, a multitool, and a poncho, and we'll see who survives. "Real life" skills > formal education in nearly all but the most rarified environments.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

ranton (36917) | about 4 months ago | (#45660427)

"Real life" skills > formal education in nearly all but the most rarified environments.

The thing is, in the modern world those rare situations and environments are the ones that actually matter. A hundred years ago your ability to feed your family, maintain your home, etc. were difficult things that took significant effort. Today these tasks can be accomplished by almost anyone. And even if you cannot do some of these tasks yourself, these abilities are so common that you can pay for them to be done on the cheap.

Your usefulness in the modern world is primarily determined by how many rare abilities and how much rare knowledge / experience you have.

You are correct IMHO that most PhDs are not going to have as many blue collar skills as most of the general population. But it isn't a lack of ability; it is a matter of prioritization. Every engineer, scientists, lawyer, etc. that I know who has ever needed mechanical skills for work or play has picked up those skills quite quickly. The largest hindrance I have seen in learning these skills is a general belief that this type of work is beneath them (and while it is an arrogant opinion, it is mostly right).

Re:Better you look the road (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#45660437)

You're dreaming if you think that smart people are inept at interacting with the physical world in any way different than the regular population.

And, I see you fail at reading the entire comment:

I'm not saying ALL PhD grads, but I'm saying enough to be statistically significant.

I've known many PhD holders who can do all sorts of cool things. But I've also know my fair share who were effectively idiots outside of the realm of the theoretical.

And, no, I wasn't kidding about the one who couldn't successfully operate a revolving door. I've actually seen this, and every time he tried he'd get stuck in it. It was mind boggling.

Do I believe that understanding the physics of how to drive a truck corresponds to actually being able to do so? Not at all. Do I believe there are plenty of who people who can? Absolutely.

I've know a few PhDs who could barely dress and groom themselves, and while they were brilliant in their field -- were little above the moron level when it came to some day to day tasks.

It's like that old Far Side cartoon about the school for the gifted [mlkshk.com].

Seriously, I've known people who supposedly have a Masters in CS who have never coded (how that is possible I don't know), and seen university professors with PhDs who hadn't coded in 20 years and had a purely theoretical understanding of it.

At MIT people actually build stuff, so I'd expect better results. But in a lot of other places, a PhD doesn't always translate into any real world knowledge. And, in some fields, a PhD just means you stuck it out with the full knowledge that you'd only ever be employable in academia.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45660719)

Do I believe that understanding the physics of how to drive a truck corresponds to actually being able to do so? Not at all.

First of all, the 'physics of how to drive a truck' aren't the same as 'truck driving physics'. And someone understanding the latter is damn sure able to better, and especially more safely, drive his truck.

Seconds, I'm selling those nice bridges. It's a real bargain. Interested?

Re:Better you look the road (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45660259)

PhDs having an awesome theoretical grasp of something, and absolutely zero practical grasp of something.

It probably makes you feel better to think this, I get it. Much like people who like to believe Einstein failed his math classes in school.

I'm betting you can find people who can write you the equations, but not actually perform the task because they don't have the coordination or motor skills.

You can find disabled people basically everywhere.

I'm not convinced what you say is true, because I've seen a fair few people with a PhD.

FTFY

Because, in some cases, the more you understand the underlying physics, the less you've ever done anything involving them and live in your own little bubble.

Did you learn all this from The Big Bang Theory?

My guess, take 10 high school students who enrolled in shop, and 10 PhD grads, give them each a month of training -- and you'll find a bias towards the high school students being pretty good, and the PhD grads being terrifying. I'm not saying ALL PhD grads, but I'm saying enough to be statistically significant.

Wow. Just.. Wow.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659793)

i daresay the PhD grad would likely do better
You must have had different profs than I did in college. I would not trust them to run a lawnmower.

Differential equations? yes
Advanced particle physics? yes
Applied statistics? yes
Advanced parallel theory with cpus? yes
Modeling macro economic behaviors of small businesses? yes

Drive a car? no

They were out there thinking about their other job. Many had their wives drive them in and dress them and pack them a lunch (so they wouldnt forget to eat).

Re:Better you look the road (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 4 months ago | (#45659879)

Your PhD grad probably couldn't drive a truck.

Your average truck driver would also be unable to drive a truck, if not being taught how to. Given the same level of truck driving education, i daresay the PhD grad would likely do better, because of more likeliness that he better understands driving physics.

Perhaps, initially. But I know how boring a long drive can be. Can you imagine if that's all you did all day long, everyday? I think most PhD grads would be too bored and either couldn't stand the boredom and have to quite for their sanity, or would end up in more accidents due to their mind wondering or trying to keep themselves entertained.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659925)

But I know how boring a long drive can be. Can you imagine if that's all you did all day long, everyday?

Yeah it might be as boring as being a patent examiner. Good thing boring jobs like that don't gve PhD's time to spend on thought experiments...

Re:Better you look the road (1)

Silverhammer (13644) | about 4 months ago | (#45659927)

Given the same level of truck driving education, i daresay the PhD grad would likely do better, because of more likeliness that he better understands driving physics.

Like a real-life Sheldon Cooper, huh?

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660211)

I had an old Chinese math prof who advised his class not to try to solve calculus problems while driving. "While you are integrating, your car could be disintegrating."

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659703)

Big difference between intelligence and common sense. There are many intelligent people who lack common sense or even basic life skills.

Re:Better you look the road (2)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 4 months ago | (#45659711)

Not really, no. There are, however, many people of average intelligence who like to believe that.

Re:Better you look the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659885)

"Not really, no. There are, however, many people of average intelligence who like to believe that."

I'll add a few platitudes of my own here.

50% of the population have an IQ under 100.

Also, common sense is not very common.

Re:Better you look the road (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#45659829)

Thing is, it doesn't take an enormous amount of intelligence to drive.

Well, that explains the abysmally low accident rate...

Oh, wait.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 4 months ago | (#45660613)

Thing is, it doesn't take an enormous amount of intelligence to drive.

Well, that explains the abysmally low accident rate...

Oh, wait.

Driver distraction is the number one cause of accidents. In your experience, would you positively or negatively correlate intelligence and distractability?

Flippant, joking question aside, it turns out that IQ actually does correlate with lower accident rates [nih.gov] at a national level. It seems that the social conditions that promote greater intelligence in the populace (higher standard of living, income equality, a more polite society, greater individual liberty) are good for better driving.

On an individual level, it's more of a wash. Individual income and academic education level do not correlate to accident rates [krepublishers.com], and both are good proxies for IQ. The study found that it's more "emotional intelligence" (aka conscientiousness) and level of driver training that mattered.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 4 months ago | (#45660385)

Driving does not require the same type of "intelligence" as desk work does... people with things like non-verbal learning disorders can have a PhD in physics and describe the physics of driving in exhaustive details but still be lost causes when you put them behind the wheel because they lack the spatial awareness to put the theory in practice while other people have no clue how the physics work... they simply look where they want to go, follow safe driving common sense and safely get there.

Re:Better you look the road (3, Insightful)

jimbobborg (128330) | about 4 months ago | (#45659803)

I dream of a truly smart car that prevents the drivers from doing stupid shit while driving, like making that left turn in front of me while I'm riding my motorcycle.

Out revenue the page view scale? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#45659891)

I don't know how you think we're going to get a good thread going when you've injected common sense right into the first post. ~Clumsy Segue~ But, how about that Google route selection process if it works out? Surely the advertisers will pay more than $.0005 for a drive by.

Re:Better you look the road (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 4 months ago | (#45660391)

Or go for a self driving car Google style.

You mean a self driving car that leaves a trail of bread crumbs for the NSA and stops at every drive-through on the way home?

Buttons vs Touch screens (5, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 4 months ago | (#45659459)

One thing auto makers can do is bring back old-school dashboards with tactile buttons laid out in a distinct, logical way. My last two cars (a Peugeot and a Toyota) had this. Once you knew the layout of the dashboard, you could operate anything by feeling your way around, without ever taking your eyes off the road. My current car (a Volvo) has tactile buttons, but they are laid out in a grid, so it's harder to figure out what function it's for. The rental car I had the other day had a touch screen with the crappiest menu structure ever, operating anything on that required close attention and taking your eyes off the road. Not good.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 months ago | (#45659507)

user interfaces have gotton very shitty since a lot of it is outsourced and foreign designers have a 'grid' mentality (to save cost as the ONLY thing they care about).

look at most guis, also. grids of buttons. they don't often stray from a matrix style of rows and columns. blech! there's no navigation ability (to find the button you want, quickly) when its all just anonymous style rows and cols.

I always vary my gui designs and try to make each screen very unique and easy to quickly ID.

when I build hardware, I vary the layout and use diff size and shape buttons and the more important ones are bigger and never near the dangerous ones (how many times have you seen a quit button next to a very important button, with a small mouse slip its easy to make a BIG mistake).

gui layout is an art form but we give it to 'mechanical' style people (ie, robot thinking) and for manuf costs, we mostly go with grid layouts; which is really working against us, for human factors usability.

finally, programmers won't commit to a set of features and they are also lazy. look at android. so many apps keep changing their layout. they dont' CARE if the user just learned the previous layout, they want change for change sake; and also because they were in such a rush to get something out, they have not taken enough time to think about what long-term buttons should be there and how to keep them stable from release to release (same location, color, shape and away from other 'dangerous' buttons that you don't want to hit by accident).

on the side, I design and build hardware (audio gear and test equip gear) and all of my designs use hardware buttons and I think long and hard before I pick a layout. once I do, I stick with it and the goal is to have the gear still be around and useful 20 or more years later. almost no one has that goal anymore - what a shame.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659571)

Software GUI designs change because as soon as we created a good, standardized ways of creating them, we ran out of useful features to add to their programs and instead had to mess around with the GUIs to make people believe the next version was different enough to be worth paying for.

The other reason they change is because designers need to justify their existence. Sure a lot of coders are bad a UI design, but all the self-claimed UI designers I've come across are just as bad. Some are even worse since animations with things flying about make everything slower and take longer to load.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659573)

user interfaces have gotton very shitty since a lot of it is outsourced and foreign designers have a 'grid' mentality (to save cost as the ONLY thing they care about).

I would say that I hate to burst your bubble but I actually like to do that.

It is not the foreign designers that have a 'grid' mentality and they care about a lot more than cost. The thing is that they also do what they are paid for and the one who outsources the work only ask for one thing, keep the cost down.
There are plenty of foreign designers that does things better, even better than the local designers. They are also more expensive and since they know what they are doing and take pride in their work they have a tendency to talk back and delay the development process by questioning how things are done.

The problem isn't really outsourcing or foreign developers. It is that the buyer doesn't have the competence needed to actually outsource anything. You need a pretty good idea on how to do something yourself before you start paying someone else to do it for you, otherwise you will never be able to specify what you want done.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45659553)

One thing auto makers can do is bring back old-school dashboards with tactile buttons laid out in a distinct, logical way.

That's the kind of thing aircraft manufacturer's understood a long time ago. When they switched to "glass cockpits" they actually did serious ergonomic design and testing. That's why many key controls are still of the sort you mention, and some critical functions still use old-fashioned "analog" (really electro-mechanical) displays and whatnot. Even before they went to glass cockpits aircraft designs involved serious ergonomic design/testing. Part of it is that the greater complexity of aircraft, and the more advanced instrumentation compared to cars, forced them to confront this problem a long time ago. Part of it though is the aircraft industry has these eccentric ideas about making things functional and useful. With cars it's "look at the pretty lights - marketing will love this".

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 months ago | (#45660393)

That's why my standard example for ergonomic design is a cockpit: Even with that overwhelming number of buttons, leversand displays and whatnots, there is one simple rule: 1 button = 1 function

In theory, you can control everything with three buttons: select, confirm, back/up/exit (like most computer monitors do; select up/down is a bonus) and many designers tell us that cleaner interfaces are simpler to use. But compare changing the picture brightness on an old fashioned CRT knob to finding your way through seven layers of settings menues you need to FIND that setting.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 4 months ago | (#45659623)

Exactly this. With a touch screen you MUST look at the device to command it. There's no alternative. With voice commands, they get triggered by conversation. (This happened to my in-laws when they were on the phone with my wife.) Or they could get triggered by audio coming over your radio. Imagine what happens when an ad for Burger King comes on the radio and they direct everybody to the nearest restaurant!

This needs to become part of law and driving instructions. Fiddling with any kind of touch screen when in a driving lane needs to be against the law.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 4 months ago | (#45660145)

With voice commands, the trigger command just needs to be unique enough (see Google's "OK Google"), but the larger problem is people either have to memorize the command or the car needs to read all the possible commands which could take a while.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (2)

PowerBook2k (312576) | about 4 months ago | (#45660185)

Most voice command systems I've ever seen (with the exception of Kinect and "OK Google") use some sort of button trigger before it will accept a command. Also, in cars, voice command systems will mute the radio when in "voice command mode".

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (3, Interesting)

doom (14564) | about 4 months ago | (#45660545)

This needs to become part of law and driving instructions. Fiddling with any kind of touch screen when in a driving lane needs to be against the law.

I have a suggestion, instead of creating a new law to cover each new gadget that someone invents, why don't we invent a single category, like say, "distracted driving" and actually enforce it?

And if you don't want people using the features the manufacturer is putting in the car, maybe we could have some laws targeting the manufacturer... or how about we reduce corporate liability shields to the point where the manufacturer begins to worry that their products are killing people?

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 4 months ago | (#45660749)

Or how about the touch screen disables itself until the vehicle is at a full stop. My friends father had a Lexus hybrid crossover which did just that. When the vehicle was moving a message displayed that the screen was disabled. You had to stop to enter an address into the nav system or make a change.

Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660807)

One thing auto makers can do is bring back old-school dashboards with tactile buttons laid out in a distinct, logical way.

My wife and I have been looking to buy a new car, and we've tested a couple of Hondas, Toyotas, and Subarus. The Honda Civic and the Subaru Crosstrek are on the short list, and while the Civic trounces the Subaru for mileage, we ended up liking the 'nuts and bolts' controls on the Crosstrek (the one without the in-dash entertainment/gps system) better, for the exact reasons you've specified. Even the low end Honda is like sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise.

In addition, the AWD (this will be our second Subaru) clinches it.

News for Luddites? Stuff That Fears? (2, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 4 months ago | (#45659481)

What's with all the anti-tech posts lately? We're supposed to be technology for technologies sake! Drive me to distraction, I want radar, a HUD, ten different kinds of TV, wireless internet, porn, inflatable sexbots

Let the mundanes worry about the safety crap.

Re:News for Luddites? Stuff That Fears? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 4 months ago | (#45659555)

I have all that stuff in my mothers basement, but she's been trying to explain that building it into a 1200 pound 100 mph machine and sharing the road with others while driven to distraction might be viewed as "anti-social" or even "sociopathic", and I'm like whatever mom. Maybe you could have a word with her?

Re:News for Luddites? Stuff That Fears? (4, Interesting)

captbob2002 (411323) | about 4 months ago | (#45659567)

My current car (2005 Pontiac Bonneville GXP) and prior car (1999 Bonneville SSE) both have/had HUDs - Love 'em. My mom's 2011 Camaro also has a HUD. Speed (and engine RPM in the Camaro) are shown constantly. High beam and turn indicators illuminated when active. A "Check gauges" Warning when idiot light on or gauge amiss. The two newer cars also show limited radio/song information but only when user is changing settings.

I have really grown use to being able to seeing my speed without having to drop my eyes from the road. Shame these devices are not available in more cars. My 78 year old mom is so used to having a HUD in the car that she didn't want to buy a new car without one.

Re:News for Luddites? Stuff That Fears? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 4 months ago | (#45659747)

HUD's realy need to be standard, love mine in 2000 grand prix gtp. Even a GPS near the A pillar is pretty good at not changing my focus to much but the hud is near perfect.

Re:News for Luddites? Stuff That Fears? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659893)

I'm not sure you know what a Luddite is.
Just because you are addicted to instant gratification, it does not mean that you are the most pro-technology. You have been tricked by corporations trying to sell you gadgets to fund their wasteful activities when real technological progress could be made with those resources.
Being pro-tech does not mean I have to be a bluetooth wearing douchebag.

smart tech = intelligence test (1)

doom (14564) | about 4 months ago | (#45660689)

I was just thinking that this "smart technology" acts like a useful intelligence test: anyone who actually tries to use it while driving is clearly too stupid to be driving (or do anything else). We could improve the state of humanity quite a bit if we executed people who think they can drive while texting. The trouble is you can only use that trick once, after that they'd probably modify their behavior, and you'd have to think of some other way of identifying them in the next generation.

Design a better User Interface? (4, Insightful)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 4 months ago | (#45659489)

If the system needs clarification and this requires the driver to inspect the screen, isn't that a problem with the implementation?

Clarification should be requested and should be given in voice alone.

Anything else defeats the purpose of the voice interface, doesn't it?

Re:Design a better User Interface? (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 4 months ago | (#45659593)

Yes, it does defeat the purpose, but sometimes we need to know the current state of something in order to issue a new command. So you might not know what radio station your tuner is currently set to so you'd have to look down at the radio. Or you want to adjust the temperature/fan/defogger settings so you'd have to look down to see what the current settings are. I suppose you could have something like, "Car, what is the current vent setting?", reply, "The current vent setting is open for the driver side foot and torso.", "Car, open foot and windshield vents", "Acknowledged, opening driver side door.", "What? No don't do that.", "Acknowledged, unlatching safty restraint.", "Are you trying to kill me?", "Acknowledged, killing driver."

Ok, I got a little carried away, but something I'd like to see is the use of smart glass to display interfaces on the users windshield in a sort of out of the way place, but where the driver doesn't have to take their eyes off the road. The top left or bottom left corner for countries where the driver sits on the left of the car as an example. Something like this [blogspot.ca], but it would have to be well designed and less cluttered. Maybe even not applied to the whole windshield just the part where a HUD is required so crap isn't popping up in front of you all the time.

Re:Design a better User Interface? (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 4 months ago | (#45659649)

You are joking, but that is pretty much what I'd expect from a working voice command interface (minus the misunderstandings!):
To be able to make conversation about the narrow field of $device_purpose.

So yes, a voice operated radio should be able to tell me what radio station I am listening to.
And it should understand common keywords that have to do with music, news, sound and such things.

Re:Design a better User Interface? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 4 months ago | (#45660073)

You want system status? Just press both flippers for 5 seconds.

Re:Design a better User Interface? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 4 months ago | (#45660339)

And what, listen to the car read off the current status for dozens of different systems in the car?

Have you ever called a company (maybe a bank) and gotten that "Press 1 for .... Press 2 for ... Press 9 for ..." or "Say the name of the person or department you're trying to reach?" and three menus in forgotten what you were calling for in the first place? That's kind of how I picture that kind of a system working.

Sounds more distracting that just having it posted as a visual interface near where you're suppose to be looking anyway.

So I guess (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 4 months ago | (#45660477)

So I guess a HUD pinball game is out?

Re:So I guess (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 4 months ago | (#45660715)

No, the only thing that should be displayed on the HUD are system status. It should not have the ability to load apps from third party sources, and manufactures that make use of it should not have app stores, this is ONLY for car systems. It's not a toy, and hacking the HUD to do other things should be the equivalent to illegally modifying your vehicle, like removing the brakes or taking out the speedometer. I don't know about other places, but in Nova Scotia we have regulations that govern how a person can modify a vehicle.

User Interfaces Need Maturity (2)

Webcommando (755831) | about 4 months ago | (#45659523)

Some of the distraction I find in my "smart car" features are due to poor user experience--location of hard buttons, layouts on screen of information or touch buttons ,and quality of speech recognition. From the article:

Voice activated systems in newer radio systems would seem to offer an advantage over older car radios of keeping the drivers eyes on the road. (Indeed, tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants

It's the clarification that is the problem, not that it is voice activated (i.e. user experience). I find this with Siri when I'm driving (using built-in blue tooth to integrate it like a "smart" car function) when trying to listen to or respond to a text using voice. Approximately 1 out of 5 times Siri misunderstands a word and I have to change the message. This pulls my attention from driving and I usually give up and wait for a light to try again.

This is just one example. In dash systems need more work on user experience.

Re:User Interfaces Need Maturity (4, Informative)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about 4 months ago | (#45659615)

Voice activated systems in newer radio systems would seem to offer an advantage over older car radios of keeping the drivers eyes on the road. (Indeed, tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants

It's the clarification that is the problem, not that it is voice activated (i.e. user experience).

I think it's also important to compare apples to apples. Before navigation systems, what did I use to get someplace I don't know where to get to? A map and/or written directions. Sure, I went over it before I ever got in a car to drive, but as I progress in the route, you often have to double check stuff. Then you find yourself glancing over the map and the piece of paper, grabbing everything when you come to a stop sign or red light, etc. Basically, you're just as distracted.

Navigation is distracting. Navigation now is less distracting. Both in the past and now, if you have a passenger you should let them navigate / be in charge of messing with the gps.

Re:User Interfaces Need Maturity (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#45660489)

Both in the past and now, if you have a passenger you should let them navigate / be in charge of messing with the gps.

"Turn left here! Left!"

"No! Other left!"

Thanks, I'll navigate for myself.

Only while stationary (2)

grahamm (8844) | about 4 months ago | (#45659539)

Many of these smart systems - such as entering a destination into the navigation system should be made to only work while the vehicle is stationary so as not to distract the driver. It makes sense to input the destination before starting the journey rather than 'on the go'.

Re:Only while stationary (2)

vrt3 (62368) | about 4 months ago | (#45659691)

But the system should make an exception when it senses that there is someone in the passenger seat.

My previous car dissallowed control of the navigation system while driving, even when there was someone in the passenger seat who was perfectly able to safely control the navigation system. Very frustrating at times.

Re:Only while stationary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659873)

Passanger controls should be out of reach of the driver. Period. I currently drive a car with a nav that does disable input while driving excep the Emergency button, which pulls up LAT/Lon on the display, great if you don't have a mile marker for the accident you just passed. Setting destination to nearest hospital/police is optional too while driving. Not common nav destinations.

My Motorhome has a 21 inch monitor installed. It displays a map in drive and the backup camera in reverse. The map is large enough to require very little squinting to identify if you want the next exit or not. As a PC based map, destination must be entered while parked as there is no touchscreen interface. Bluetooth mouse and keyboard only. Works well and easily warns of the sharp hairpin turn hidden past the hill.

If you can do this, Back Roads Explorer TOPO maps are nice for camping beyond the local RV park.

Crappy voice software (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 4 months ago | (#45659581)

Or how about just install a decent intelligent voice system/menu. Every car system I've ever used has been crap-tastic. "Call Dave", you said "Call Carl, calling carl...ring.. ring. ", Crap (press cancel), "Main menu, what would you like to do". (press cancel). "Calling Carl.. ring ring."..

Re:Crappy voice software (1)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 4 months ago | (#45659719)

Siri only seems to work when I'm using my bluetooth headset, possibly because it has better noise cancellation. She still gets it wrong though, so for numbers I call often I've created "fake" entries in my contacts list. I often call my wife on my way home from a job, so I tell Siri to call "ICE" which happens to be an acronym - In Case of Emergency.

Re:Crappy voice software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660147)

Or how about just install a decent intelligent voice system/menu. Every car system I've ever used has been crap-tastic. "Call Dave", you said "Call Carl, calling carl...ring.. ring. ", Crap (press cancel), "Main menu, what would you like to do". (press cancel). "Calling Carl.. ring ring."..

How about entering town/street names into the voice-nav? You've got to guess how the makers of the system think you might pronounce the name. I've yet to figure out how to pronounce "Olathe" so that the VW can take me there.

Wrong category (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 4 months ago | (#45659585)

This story should have been filed under "Duh!" or "Obviously" or "Didn't anyone stop and think about this first?"

Navigation issues (1)

dbarron (286) | about 4 months ago | (#45659597)

Yes, I know how that is...you try to get it to plot a course to nearest Best-Buy while you're out in an unfamiliar neighborhood, but you have to check or it'll route you to the Best Buy headquarters 4 states away (or something innane). I wouldn't want the navigational system to start giving me directions without confirming that it had locked on to the address that I REALLY wanted to go to.

Smart cars are like smart chicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659607)

Best avoided.

Smart is too distracting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659621)

Now that Larabee is a straight-laced by-the-book young go-getter. Promote him!

User interface design (4, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 4 months ago | (#45659627)

It all comes down to user interface design. A good interface will grab you attention only when it has something important to say. And it will avoid false warnings. A lousy interface *is* distracting. So is an interface that screws up, by grabbing your attention with incorrect or irrelevant information.

Just as an example: my current car has a very distracting audible and visual warning when it detects ice on the road. The problem is: this warning delivers 99% false positives (in fact, it seems to be triggered simply by the thermometer crossing a temperature threshold (3C), in either direction). So - yes - it is a dangerous distraction. However, if the manufacturer had actually gotten it right, it would have been very valuable.

As far as issuing commands, it is really the same thing: poor design. Is the interface reliable enough that you can trust it to do what you say? Does it give positive confirmation, or leave you wondering?

Re:User interface design (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 4 months ago | (#45660131)

Mine does that as well. You get to hear a chime and something is flashing on the dash and when you look it it telling you that it is cold and thus there might be ice on the road . On my car it happens any time it is at or below 37F so at this point it has become something I completely ignore. My thought with that stupid warning is of course it is cold out I just got in my car from being in that same weather. Had they been smart about it they could have had the parameters such that if after 10 minutes of driving the temp falls below some threshold (not starts there or falls there immediately after leaving the garage) then give a little warning but now is the 6 months of the year when every time I start my car it will chime and flash the temp at me. I know it is cold and that there might be ice on the road, I can see the ice on the road and just froze my ass off brushing the snow off of you.

Re:User interface design (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 months ago | (#45660449)

Just as an example: my current car has a very distracting audible and visual warning when it detects ice on the road. The problem is: this warning delivers 99% false positives (in fact, it seems to be triggered simply by the thermometer crossing a temperature threshold (3C), in either direction). So - yes - it is a dangerous distraction. However, if the manufacturer had actually gotten it right, it would have been very valuable.

Opel/Vauxhall or other GM brand?

I alweays had the feeling the engineers only included this because they could add another feature to the ads without adding any new hardware. There is no use in a warning light if it becomes NORMAL between November and Febuary. THANK YOU, I KNOW IT'S WINTER!

Is anybody surprised? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#45659629)

I've been looking at some of these in-car infotainment systems for the last couple of years thinking they'd be as bad as a smartphone.

I've always thought the push to the connected car would be more of a distraction, and not something I'd personally want to be operating while driving the car.

Cadillac recently was running a commercial saying essentially "our car has more buttons than yours" because of the digital console. And my first thoughts were "great, I'd never find anything".

I'm on the wrong side of 40, but for me I still like physical buttons in well known places that I don't need to look away from the road to operate. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you actually tested people, even the ones who believe they can operate this while driving would be proven wrong.

Humans are terrible at doing more than one thing at a time, despite what they like to believe. Adding more crap like this into a car is likely just going to make that worse.

Self driving cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659631)

If the driver doesn't have to drive the distractions are all you do.

we should understand why we have these (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 months ago | (#45659693)

smart cars, connected cars that is, are regular cars with more gadgets and gizmos. cars that check email, report weather, play pandora and such are a recent development of course, and not one i may add that many drivers care for. Some argue they exist as a marketing effort to spur millenials to purchase automobiles. As a millenial myself, and one with an automobile that gladly interfaces with my phone to play pandora radio, I can confirm the marketing effort is misplaced.
what executives and marketing C-levels dont understand is that boomers drove because it was still fun. gas was inexpensive, income was plentiful to afford a car and its upkeep, and the novelty of road trips was still something most americans found fascinating and entertaining. Gen Xers piled their kids into SUV's for the ego stroke and gas, while not expensive, was still relatively affordable but something else changed. Traffic was becoming universally abhorrent. the much adored culdesac street planning mandate from the sixties had snarled it for miles and government budgets began to resemble holocaust victims to such a degree that potholes capable of puncturing a tire became commonplace on most commutes. the Xers responded by buying larger SUV's like the H2 and turning up the 20 speaker stereo to drown out the din of the crumbling pavement on their way to the cube farm.

fast forward to the millenials of today. the economic collapse of 2008 has caused most governments to send their highway planning divisions packing as their budgets turn tits up. highways and byways now look more like Reuters photos of bombed out occupied zones. Gasoline is so expensive as to make a road trip a punchline, and traffic congestion models the zombie apocalypse flicks we've glued ourselves to for the last 5 years. whats worse is most of the millenials you see today are falling apart under the weight of their college loans and an average wage thats declined precipitously for 30 years under the guise of free market capitalism. "a new car" for most millenials is a used SUV from a gen-Xer who just had to sell it to make the mortgage gestapo leave them alone for another week. factoring its voraceous appetite for gas, its high mileage, and its mad-max driver, all we've scored is a time-bomb with eddie bauer seats. So lets address the C-levels now...you want to sell us a new, tiny car with lots of gizmos and great gas mileage for less than 20k and while we applaud the offering we still can barely afford, the roads still suck and the insurance is only slightly less expensive than our education loans. Thank you no, the idea smacks of stupidity.

I can take the bus for a fraction of the cost of owning a car. I dont care if it takes 45 minutes because I have a smart phone, or tablet. im connected to all my friends, including the one im going to meet up with for drinks and dinner. my phone will warn me about making my stop, and let me recharge the fare on my card while i leave the driving to a competent, qualified and much more seasoned bus driver. i dont have to pay insurance, worry about parking, fret about the cost of gas, or earn a ticket for speeding

to put it quite simply: stop trying to sell me a $30,000 iphone case with wheels.

Re:we should understand why we have these (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 4 months ago | (#45660043)

I can take the bus for a fraction of the cost of owning a car. I dont care if it takes 45 minutes because I have a smart phone, or tablet. im connected to all my friends, including the one im going to meet up with for drinks and dinner. my phone will warn me about making my stop, and let me recharge the fare on my card while i leave the driving to a competent, qualified and much more seasoned bus driver. i dont have to pay insurance, worry about parking, fret about the cost of gas, or earn a ticket for speeding

to put it quite simply: stop trying to sell me a $30,000 iphone case with wheels.

They obviously aren't trying to sell a "$30,000 iphone case with wheels" to you because you, obviously, are not their target market. Either you are not interested in owning a car, based on your post, or you do want to own a car but are just annoyed that you haven't reached the point where you can afford a moderately priced new car (i.e. $30K).

As for the rest of your screed, all of these things are just part of owning a car, much like house taxes are part of owning a house. You do realize that you can get used cars for well under $20K (you don't HAVE to buy new), that you don't need an SUV but there are some people who do (i.e. towing, large number of kids, live in an area with a lot of snow, etc.), that you usually only get speeding tickets if you speed, that insurance is necessary because people make mistakes but it can be kept relatively low by not speeding, that large cities do have traffic congestion but that the tradeoff is that they usually have better public transportation (which you are taking advantage of), and most bus drivers are indeed competent drivers but not much more than that (bus driving doesn't exactly attract the best and the brightest).

I'm happy that you've been able to make public transportation to work for you. It just doesn't work for me and, as a result, I accept all of the expenses, annoyances, and, yes, fun that comes with owning a car.

Re:we should understand why we have these (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660077)

You should have just put that last sentence. You really don't speak for everyone no matter what you think.

Use the map first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659701)

I guess folks drive differently. Back in the 80s, when we wanted to find an address, we studied a map, memorized directions, thought about the route. We didn't try to read a map while driving. If people used GPS devices the same way then we wouldn't have any problems.

I do like to be able to start a trip with: "OK Google. Directions to Walt Disney World Epcot Center." This gives turn by turn guidance, but at the loss of really knowing which way you're heading. I.e., before you knew to head in northerly direction for a couple hundred miles. The turn by turn often doesn't add this sense of where you're going. Many folks don't know that a stadium is 4K to the east, just that they need to turn at 57th and drive until the GPS says turn right. Heck, we used to know which way streets, avenues, roads, boulevards and ways ran and what each meant. Some delineate cities, so one could be driving on NE 42nd Ave, cross a boulevard, and be on SW 16 Ave.

Too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659707)

I have an Alfa Romeo 159 with a very "basic" (IMHO) blue & me system. Never used it as it requires you to memorize button combinations (or watch the screen, which is a no-no while driving), and with my English (with a ~strong Finnish accent) I've yet to get a single voice command to do what I want.

Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45659827)

They concluded it's more distracting to give voice directions to a GPS system than it is to tune a radio by knob. Absolutely brilliant.

Bad conclusion in the OP. Drivers aren't necessarily more distracted by using new tech instead of old tech. The old tech example of a GPS navigation system should have been a fold-out map. I suspect that's a hell of a lot more distracting than a good turn-by-turn voice GPS. Or even a crappy one.

Smart Cars Can Be Annoying (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 4 months ago | (#45659861)

I recently drove a family member's "smart car" and tried to change the GPS destination in mid trip. The voice control kept misinterpreting the address, requiring me to choose from an onscreen menu full of wrong choices. Eventually I gave up on the voice control and tried to have a passenger enter it in manually while I continued to drive in the general direction of our destination. However, the car refused to take manual input while it was in motion despite the fact that the input was coming from a passenger. Even worse, once the car started moving, it erased all of the information that had been entered up until that point! That meant pulling over on a busy road or frantically typing it in at a red light while trying to get the address in before the light turned green. What should have been a simple process that could be done while the car was in motion turned out to a be a very frustrating and distracting experience because the car thought it was smart.

Re:Smart Cars Can Be Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660303)

I recently drove a family member's "smart car" and tried to change the GPS destination in mid trip. The voice control kept misinterpreting the address, requiring me to choose from an onscreen menu full of wrong choices. Eventually I gave up on the voice control and tried to have a passenger enter it in manually while I continued to drive in the general direction of our destination. However, the car refused to take manual input while it was in motion despite the fact that the input was coming from a passenger. Even worse, once the car started moving, it erased all of the information that had been entered up until that point! That meant pulling over on a busy road or frantically typing it in at a red light while trying to get the address in before the light turned green. What should have been a simple process that could be done while the car was in motion turned out to a be a very frustrating and distracting experience because the car thought it was smart.

It's a "feature" meant to prevent the driver from driving distracted. But it actually does the opposite. Fortunately, for most systems, there are work-arounds to re-enable text input.

Re:Smart Cars Can Be Annoying (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#45660409)

I recently drove a family member's "smart car" and tried to change the GPS destination in mid trip. The voice control kept misinterpreting the address, requiring me to choose from an onscreen menu full of wrong choices. Eventually I gave up on the voice control and tried to have a passenger enter it in manually while I continued to drive in the general direction of our destination. However, the car refused to take manual input while it was in motion despite the fact that the input was coming from a passenger. Even worse, once the car started moving, it erased all of the information that had been entered up until that point! That meant pulling over on a busy road or frantically typing it in at a red light while trying to get the address in before the light turned green. What should have been a simple process that could be done while the car was in motion turned out to a be a very frustrating and distracting experience because the car thought it was smart.

Hey, wanna scare the crap out of yourself?

Imagine this guy is a commercial airline pilot.

"Well, I've never flown one of these kinds of planes before, but no biggie, I'll figure out the controls as we go along."

Re:Smart Cars Can Be Annoying (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 4 months ago | (#45660785)

Are you suggesting mandatory training simulators for operating car navigation systems? Or are you insinuating that I'm somehow incompetent because I attempted to use a GPS in mid trip? If that's the case, then you're a fool who jumps to conclusions because I already knew how to get to my destination and the GPS was just a failsafe in the event that I took a wrong turn since it had been a while since I made the trip. Either way, chill out on the internet insults. They may be easy since they're semi-anonymous and it can be fun to pretend you're smarter than your target, but since you don't know your target, you run the risk of insulting someone much smarter than yourself and you could end up being the one looking foolish.

Of course they don't work (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#45660055)

You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems.

No I wouldn't. Voice control is somewhat like a command line interface. Potentially powerful if you are already proficient at it but inscrutable if you aren't already well trained. Furthermore there is no standardization between vehicles. Unlike buttons and steering wheels which are well standardized, voice interfaces have no such commonality between automakers. Each vendor rolls their own. This makes it basically impossible for me to just hop in any random car and do useful tasks. Furthermore few people are practiced in dictating to a computer. This requires you to compose your sentences before opening your mouth and not putting a lot of "ummm" and other pauses in the instruction. Additionally most voice interfaces require rather specific sequences of words to work which people are demonstrably bad at remembering to do.

I am of course ignoring the problems with accents, road noise, passenger noise, faulty software, bad interpretations of commands, and much more. Most voice interfaces are just bolt on additions to existing interfaces and they aren't well thought out, standardized and generally don't work very well.

They didn't use this baseline for distraction? (1)

Jon_S (15368) | about 4 months ago | (#45660061)

In-car record Player [uaw-chrysler.com]

From there:

There were a few problems with the idea of a car player that needed to be solved - besides simply keeping the needle on the record. One of them was safely operating the unit while driving.

The player had to be small, so the 7-inch size of the 45-rpm record was ideal; but using 45s would have meant changing the record every few minutes, a little risky at highway speeds. To solve that problem, 7-inch records for the player were produced in the new 16 2/3-rpm format (ultra-microgroove) offering up to an hour of playing time per side and the added benefit of a slower speed that was less likely to kick up the needle. The records also were easy to load. Moving the tone arm over the record would start it spinning and, in a few seconds, the needle would automatically lower into the starting groove. Then the turntable could be pushed back in and the front cover closed.

Driving without tech, is a skill (1)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about 4 months ago | (#45660177)

--> "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them."
The people who drive those vehicles, are becoming more reliant on gadgets and gizmos, to do the actual driving for them. Efficiently, reducing the drivers skill at driving.

Driving should take your whole attention, not some of it, or a little bit now and then.
If you want everyone else on the road to feel safe, you need to pull your finger out of your ass, and do the simple task of Driving.

Driving is a skill, a skill which you qualified for. Not some glorified peice of paper that allows you to forget everything you learnt in a few days, and then rely on tech to do the job for you.

Truck got dumber (1)

ClayDowling (629804) | about 4 months ago | (#45660275)

My most recent vehicle purchase was a Toyota Tacoma. Because I needed a truck, and I wanted a stick shift. The truck has no optional features at all. The nice thing is, there is almost nothing that needs fiddling with. Simple gauges. A nice but easy to control radio. No funny collections of buttons. Not even electric door locks or window controls.

Also no cruise control, but it seems like a small price to pay for having a truck that is otherwise simple, reliable and doesn't suck fuel like a three year old with a big gulp.

Think outside the box (1)

Fluffy the Destroyer (3459643) | about 4 months ago | (#45660291)

When I look at a smart car, the cube or any other freak'n weird shaped car, I look at that car...not the road. That could be scary when you think you could get an accident in a blink of an eye. Automobile makers should stick to standards. Seriously, if a cube or other messed up designed car comes beside me, its too ugly (or cute ??), I have too look... I can't stop it.

You know when someone is soo ugly and repulsive... YOU HAVE to look, you can't stop it

GPS and distraction. (1)

Jaywalk (94910) | about 4 months ago | (#45660319)

But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system.

Which is why every GPS system I've ever used starts off with a disclaimer that tells you not to program the thing while you're driving. I travel for a living so the choice isn't whether I want a screen or not. It's whether the GPS is telling me directions out loud or I'm trying to read them off a piece of paper when I'm driving. And the rental car companies seem to think that the proper place for a GPS is somewhere down at the passenger's feet, so I bring my own and stick it on the windshield where it's in my peripheral vision. And I don't answer the phone if I'm driving.

If it's "smart" it should be smart enough not to pester you when you're trying to drive. It's not that we need smarter cars, we need smarter people.

Lack of Tactile (2)

Ameryll (2390886) | about 4 months ago | (#45660371)

The worst is the lack of tactile inputs on the console because everyone wants to look 'futuristic!'. You can't just reach over and turn the radio off because you can't find the knob w/o looking. It's dangerous, and stupid. Put the physical dials back.

Ironically (1)

cnaumann (466328) | about 4 months ago | (#45660401)

My car navigation system and "infotainment" system locks out certain seemingly random features while the car is in motion. For example, you can change Bluetooth devices while the car is in motion but you cannot sync a new device to the system. I did not know this. I found it incredibly distracting to try to figure out what the hell was wrong with the system while driving, and I wasn't even the one trying to use the system.

They suck (2)

andyring (100627) | about 4 months ago | (#45660453)

I'm with most of the commenters here. We have a small fleet of company cars (5). We recently upgraded them as our existing vehicles, despite being 2008 models, were around 350k miles. Anyway, I evaluated a Ford Focus and hated it. The whole darn thing was a computer, or so it seemed. I want my employees focusing on the ROAD, not the vehicle gadgets. We ended up going with 2013 Honda Civics after my boss got involved because he's friends with the salesman. Even those are very sucky. The menu interfaces are total crap, make no sense, even to the point of feeling counterintuitive. The salesman I worked with kept touting "it's got Bluetooth, bluetooth, bluetooth" until he was practically blue in the face. I told him "Bluetooth whatever. How do I turn off all this shit?" He looked dumbfounded.

I don't need some distracting info graphic to tell me a door is open. If a car is smart enough to tell me a tire is low, tell me WHICH DAMN TIRE. And if I want to turn on the radio, let me turn a little dial in the middle of the front console area, not some generic plus-minus button on a steering wheel that does different things every time I touch it. Otherwise I end up being frustrated with the stupid thing and not focusing on driving safely.

LCD Screens - the hallmark of the cheap cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45660471)

Its obvious that well placed 'real' controls are better. They also now cost more than an LCD screen, since the round dials have to send data to a computer, and have to be designed 5 years in advance, priced, installed, etc. The 2023 Yugo or equivalent will have steering wheel, gas and brakes, and an LCD to everything else. It will run some crap version of Android.

Screens will be the mark of the cheap car.

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"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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