back to article Honk if the car in front is connected

Connecting cars to the internet and to each other seems to be inevitable, whether or not you approve - and plenty don’t. Let’s face it, though, everything else is connecting to the internet, so why not your favourite drive? By 2017, according to ABI Research, a market watcher, some 50 million connected cars will be sold every …

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  1. LesC
    FAIL

    This is all going to end in tears...

    Just wait until the mission creep sets in and everyone and their dogs can gain access to your personal motoring data under crime, terrorism or kiddie protection legislation. Reminding you that your MOT / tax is due is fine, as is letting you know there's something wrong with your engine or you've got a nail in your tyre is fine. AutoPhorm, location tracking, letting SonyBMG know you've been playing Susan Boyle content leeched of l33torrentz and driver profiling is not.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: This is all going to end in tears...

      I noticed a stroy in Information Age about a big American insurer in the UK gettign together with a telco to monitor cars and feedback the second-by-second info for insurance purposes. Presumably if you prove, second-by-second, that you are an uber-safe driver, you won't get hammered at renewal time. Or otherwise. I am not sure I want my car so hooked in that financial decisions are made for me by people who do not have my interests at heart (which would be everyone except me).

    2. Richard Cartledge

      Re: This is all going to end in tears...

      We use Audi Connect which is an online account which syncs to the car's systems via it's 3G connection. It works very well for syncing contacts, finding google POIs and adding media to the MMI, internet radio. e.g. when in google maps on a computer, one can hover over the drop pin and choose other>send to>car - but I would like to do more, such as add new features, and have a better insight into telematics such as mpg history, telematic status of systems from a computer. It would be good to change settings of things in the car from inside the house and upload them rather than sitting on the drive using clickwheels and buttons..

      Maybe someone is missing a trick about an incar OS with it's own app store and online ecosystem. Are motor manufacturer's own second-rate offerings enough?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is all going to end in tears...

        Audi connect is precisely one of the reasons why I want to avoid in car connectivity like the plague. It is far too easy now to hook up a car to a WAN infrastructure via cellular means or even local WiFi, and this opens up another tracking gateway. I don't care what the benefits are, rule one is that the OWNER must be in control, not the data collectors who are getting fat on collecting and reselling personal information by ignoring privacy laws as if they don't exist.

        Audi connect uses Google for a number of services, and its privacy policy very elegantly avoids cleartext about the fact that you are handing off data to Google which enables them to track you. Translated: all those nice services are only available contingent on you permitting tracking, or you're buying a facility which you cannot actually use. If that sounds familiar, yes, it is probably even *based* on Android.

        I'm going to have a word with Audi in the next couple of days, and possibly involve my local Data Protection regulator in the discussion because it's time that the idiots who come up with this stuff start thinking about the implications of what they do and take responsibility. It's bad enough Google seems to think EU Data Protection laws are merely suggestions, the last thing we need is car designers help them to more information by misinforming customers about how their fancy interfaces really get that data.

        When you pay for a service with personal information, it is NOT free or companies like Google would not be trying to game EU privacy laws by filling up Brussels with lobbyists right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Update on Audi Connect..

          I've sent the questions directly to Audi AG in Germany after I dug out the person responsible for Data Protection (and copied in the local Data Protection office for good measure, for Audi that is the LBA in Bayern). Audi don't provide the email address of the Data Protection registrar online, but it's not hard to guess with a naming structure of first.last@audi.de :).

          I know the email has been received and opened (delivery and read receipt have both returned), let's see what happens..

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Ask and you shall receive...

        > Maybe someone is missing a trick about an incar OS with it's own app store and online ecosystem

        From New Scientist in January:

        Ford's Open-Source Kit Brings Era of Smart Car Apps

        Ford Motor Co. recently released OpenXC, an open source hardware and software toolkit that will allow the hacker community to experiment with the computer systems that run its cars. The open nature of the system could eventually lead to custom applications that give drivers more control over their car's performance. A driver will be able to download approved apps from a Ford store onto their smartphone that can communicate with a car's computer system. Such apps may tap some underused components of a car. Although manufacturers try to balance their cars between economy and performance, software could push it to one extreme or the other, giving the car owner a more efficient or faster vehicle than the one they bought, notes Ford researcher K. Venkatesh Prasad. Most microcontrollers in cars use the CAN bus protocol to communicate. Since this protocol is well understood, encryption can be bypassed with off-the-shelf tools. In theory, OpenXC will work with any make of car that supports the standards, and Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have already expressed interest in the system.

        http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729015.700-fords-opensource-kit-brings-era-of-smart-car-apps.html

  2. EddieD

    Can't wait

    For the first crashes because folk overtake on blind corners because they haven't been told not to.

    I can see the value of this, but I think it will need a little tweaking to be really useful

    1. Franklin
      Mushroom

      Re: Can't wait

      Personally, I can't wait for the first person to set their passcode to 16309, enabling James Kirk to control their car from his car and lower their shields.

  3. Evil Auditor

    I see some potential in this...

    But, will speed cameras, police cars and such also be connected and talk to my car sufficiently early? Or will it just be my car talking to the rozzers to tell them that I'm speeding?

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: I see some potential in this...

      "will speed cameras ... also be connected "

      I wonder. If they're really there to force people to slow down and be more alert in accident blackspots, I can't see why they wouldn't be. But of course that isn't what many people think they're for...

    2. S4qFBxkFFg
      Joke

      Re: I see some potential in this...

      Why bother? It can just ignore the accelerator pedal position and make the speedometer give an overestimated reading to the driver, perhaps simulating an increased engine volume and road noise through the speakers.

      No-one gets fined, the driver thinks they're going fast, everyone's happy.

    3. welshie

      Re: I see some potential in this...

      Surely it would be best if the road could tell your car what the speed limit was and the car tried its best to prevent you from getting pulled over by the rozzers for speeding / getting flashed by a gatso, with all the insurance hikes that will incur.

      Hell, why not make it a standard fit, and you could only temporarily disable it by parking, turning the engine off, and tapping out morse code on the reverse lights, or by engaging your blue flashing lights.

      If you want faster ground transportation than is legal on the roads, take the train, or go and drive on a racing track.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I see some potential in this...

        « Surely it would be best if the road could tell your car what the speed limit was »

        That would be automatic sign recognition, coupled with a good navigation database that already contains speed limits. Both exist already and are actually handy.

        The magnificent know-it-alls in here will tell you they can just look out the windscreen and read the signs (which is exactly what the car itself does), and yes, you can. If you can also keep in memory whether the speed limit on this particular stretch of road was X or Y or maybe Z while also busy driving the car, spotting conflicting traffic, navigating, looking out for and anticipating hazards, then you do not need this. On the other hand those of us who are merely human do appreciate the extra help.

        As for keeping within the speed limit, cruise control helps lots. If it is adaptive cruise control it will also make you far less likely to tailgate the slightly slower moving vehicle in front of you, and it also reacts quicker than a human in an emergency breaking situation.

        Again, the above is just my own experience, but at least it IS experience, rather than trying to be a smartarse making armchair comments as to why hundreds of experienced engineers are just "idiots".

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: I see some potential in this...

      You've missed the more obvious issue, the rozzers will be talking to your car, not the other way round.

      No need for flashing lights, just the the ping of "MAIN ENGINE SWITCH OFF", and your now parked on the hard shoulder.

      Will make police chases slightly less interesting.

      1. Steve 13
        Thumb Up

        Re: I see some potential in this...

        Main engine switch off whilst you're traveling in traffic and you're likely to be parked in the barrier, facing the wrong way, maybe upside down.

        Stopping high speed chases safely by going into 'limp home' mode, and then progressively reducing throttle response is surely a good thing though.

      2. Onid
        Thumb Up

        Re: I see some potential in this...

        "MAIN ENGINE SWITCH OFF" - no problem switch to auxiliary!! how far can a starter motor get me ??

        1. Graham Marsden
          Pirate

          Re: I see some potential in this...

          And what happens when some miscreant figures out how to hack into the system and shut down your car whilst you're driving along a deserted country road...?

    5. Jtom

      Re: I see some potential in this...

      My thoughts, too. Since governments are much more interested in revenue than anything else (like public service or safety), I can see the day when you'll receive a ticket in the mail for every instance you exceed a speed limit, courtesy of your car 'reporting' you via interconnectivity with the infrastructure.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    Like Marvin

    I'm feeling very very depressed.

    If you want to drive coupled to the car in front, take the bloody train. I for one don't want my drive controlled my Mr 40mph in the middle lane. I don't want to read my emails or download entertainment from teh intarwebs or be thrown adverts or routed onto a different road.

    The very most I want to know is 'this road is subject to delays because xxx'. That's it.

    The scenarios illustrated in the article are fanciful at best: the amount of processing power required to uniquely and unambiguously identify every other vehicle in sight, in all conditions of temperature, visibility, and weather; to identify road conditions and braking distances and 'that bloke never had a driving lesson in his life' and that ball that just rolled onto the road is likely to have a kid following it and ooh, an ice cream van... nah. We've got a computer that can do that, and it's made with great delight and unskilled labour.

    We don't need mechanisms to stop us having to think; we need educating *to* think.

    meh.

    1. David Hicks
      Pint

      Re: Like Marvin

      Perhaps there can be a system to tell Mr 40mph to get the %$^£ out of the middle lane because he's not overtaking anyone at that speed and is causing tailbacks halfway across the country....

      1. M Gale

        Re: Like Marvin

        Yep.

        It's called "a horn". And if he carries on, there is the inevitable and rather foolproof method of educating someone about the error of their ways, called the "multiple vehicle pile-up".

        That said, motorways have three lanes. You could always just overtake.

        1. dotdavid
          Thumb Down

          Re: Like Marvin

          "That said, motorways have three lanes"

          Not all of them.

          I've also noticed that Mr Middle Lane Driver doesn't often tend to notice much of what's happening behind them, including but not limited to large queues, beeping horns, flashing lights and whatnot.

          1. M Gale

            Re: Like Marvin

            "Not all of them."

            The vast majority of them, though there are some dual-carriageway A roads with motorway rules. Usually the ones marked as "A000(M)" on the map.

          2. keith_w Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Like Marvin

            all the ones that have middle lanes have at least 3 lanes.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Like Marvin

        Don't tease me like this.

        1. M Gale
          Coat

          Re: Like Marvin

          Don't tease me, bro?

          Okay, I'm going.

    2. Alfred

      Re: Like Marvin

      "I for one don't want my drive controlled my Mr 40mph in the middle lane"

      Well then you'd better hope that he gets his car networked and automated quickly so that the vehicle chooses not to do this, but instead drives at a good speed in a sensible lane.

    3. JimC

      Re: Like Marvin

      But wouldn't it be nice if instead of 40mph middle lane hogs all the cars on the Motorway were driving at a consistent safe speed?

    4. Code Monkey
      Angel

      Re: Like Marvin

      Assuming Facebook hasn't gone titsup by then, you could poke Mr 40mph to let him know how you feel about his delaying your journey.

  5. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    For the driver to actually...

    respond this needs to flash up in a HUD else any other distractions could just cause more issues. This is why marketing should not be allowed here. What would be nice is a minimap style radar view of your surroundings. That way you can always tell where everyone else is.

    It has potential but yeah privacy implications are there as well.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I knew it, the CAN (Car Area Network) is coming.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Car Area Network

      It's already here, my 3-year-old Ford has all the electronics on the CANbus.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Today you watch the dashboard

    Tomorrow it watches you.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Today you watch the dashboard

      Exactly.

      I like my privacy. In fact, I demand it.

  8. Wize

    And when it all gets hacked...

    ...people will start turning it off.

    The question is, what hack will be first?

    Will it be someone trying to track individuals (jealous spouse, nosey boss)

    Trying to track peoples movements to determine the best place to advertise (60% of our drive through customers passed a particular billboard etc)

    Clearing your route to work (false signals saying a road is blocked so you can use it relatively unhindered.)

    Or someone just being a cock and sending out random events to annoy people, just because they can.

    And if that system is on the same network as other car management items, you could be even more screwed. Air con set to full heat in summer, ice cold in winter, engine management forced on to 'limp-home-mode'. Radio forcing you to listen to Chris Evans and any other form of torture someone can think of.

    1. The Mole

      Re: And when it all gets hacked...

      Billboards telling cars there is congestion ahead so they have to slow down and read the message?

      I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure, and even if there are new laws it it is going to be hard to prove who brought the motorway to a standstill by sending the fake message that they have just done an emergency stop.

      1. M Gale

        Re: And when it all gets hacked...

        "I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure, and even if there are new laws it it is going to be hard to prove who brought the motorway to a standstill by sending the fake message that they have just done an emergency stop."

        Especially if it's some naughty sod who's buried a smartphone in the motorway embankment along with a 24v truck battery powerful enough to last for weeks.

      2. dotdavid

        Re: And when it all gets hacked...

        "I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure"

        Presumably it'll be some kind of public/private key thing, like SSL, so I'd expect the hacks will be similar ones used to that - i.e. attacking the certificate authorities and having spoof certificates issued.

        1. PyLETS
          Boffin

          Re: And when it all gets hacked...

          As evident from some of the above posts, there are many different kinds of security and hacking to consider:

          a. The cars' and other nodes' firewalls to prevent these being hacked into by outsiders.

          b. Ability using crypto signatures and registers (maintained by whom and accessible to whom?) securely to identify originators of malicious messages without leaking confidential data to unauthorised parties or for unintended purposes.

          c. Ability to check whether client X is authorised to perform action Y on server Z.

          d. Denial of service, through jamming, overloading etc.

          e. Issues to do with differences of interpretation of standards by foreign vehicles on local roads.

          That's just for starters - list by no means complete.

          Very nice set of features suggested in the article, but the security engineering and architecture of this all is going to be very far from trivial, even if it ever gets a coherent security architecture. If it doesn't we'll see much more of this as the threat landscape evolves and engineers spend years trying to patch something up for issues which should have been foreseen by system and standards designers but weren't.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: And when it all gets hacked...

            Yeah, cause those always stop hackers.

          2. Jtom
            Facepalm

            Re: And when it all gets hacked...

            But hasn't government shown us it is completely competent to overcome these issues? Look at how well it manages all of their existing programmes and functions.

    2. Captain Hogwash
      Big Brother

      Re: ...people will start turning it off.

      Really? You think that will be possible?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. ukgnome
    Joke

    How long before cars have their own social network? And what would it be called?

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      GrilleBook?

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Logbook?

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      ...robots in disguise!

      What, Autobots, of course!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God I hope not

    More technology in cars? more accidents and hacks more like.

    Did they not learn anything from the BMW key clone hack?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just my experience

    I have to say I'm quite impressed at the quality of the automation we already have. With adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention, side assist, TMC, automatic lights (deflects rather than turns off high beam when there are other cars around, so you can still see the edge of the road--important if you live in a forest), pedestrian detection, and can't remember what else, I find myself having much more spare mental capacity to *manage* the driving (and also have better situational awareness), rather than merely operating the controls. It might not be as much fun but it's a hell of a lot safer and more considerate towards everyone else--if I want to do the shifting gears thing I just hire the nearby F1 racetrack for half an hour and do it without inconveniencing others.

    P.S.: I am also a commercial pilot and it's interesting how much of the approach to "managing" the flight is being adapted to the ground transportation arena.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Just my experience

      "P.S.: I am also a commercial pilot and it's interesting how much of the approach to "managing" the flight is being adapted to the ground transportation arena."

      I have to wonder what your opinion is of the fly-by-wire systems that can, have and will absolutely deny control to the pilot even when the computer is obviously sending you up the creek without a paddle? I think everyone and their dog has seen the Air France flight disappearing into the trees at the end of the runway because the dipshit onboard computer thought "oh.. I'm at a low altitude, I WILL LAND NOW." That's just the most prominent example, though I'm sure you know of enough others.

      These things need a damned off switch.

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: Just my experience

        That was in 1988! There a pilots flying right now born after that event

        The last thing these systems need is an off switch, it's the lack of an off switch that will overall make the roads safer and protect you from Mr Dickhead BMW driver deciding to switch his off and go flying through automated traffic at 10mph

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Just my experience

          are

          and

          150mph

          I think I need a new keyboard (or typing lessons)

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Just my experience

            Actually the BMW driver at 10MPH is probably more dangerous than the one doing 150MPH. At least the one doing 150 is probably paying attention to his driving, and not tweeting on his iPhone while shaving...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just my experience

        «I have to wonder what your opinion is of the fly-by-wire systems»

        I do not have any current or past rating on any fly by wire aircraft so I cannot speak from first hand experience. With that big caveat, it is not quite true that those systems will "deny" control to the pilot. Worst case all triple redundant systems will malfunction and you're left with some throttle and rudder control (on the FBW types I know, again not from first hand experience, the rudder is mechanically linked to the pedals), which in theory should be enough to maintain sufficient control that you can stand a good chance of landing the thing. Then again, you would have stayed in bed if you suspected that your day was going to go so wrong, so anything is a bonus.

        The Habsheim demonstration flight that you seem to refer to ended up in a smoking hole precisely because some of the FBW technology had been disabled to make for a more spectacular low pass. It was caused by a multiplicity of factors, all of them with a human component, not by any fundamental flaw in the technology being used, regardless of what headlines the press might have wanted to have.

        Those colleagues of mine who fly Airbuses are generally very happy with the beasts. They do say that it is a very different approach to flying a "normal" aircraft though, so it takes some getting used to.

        With that said, FBW and automation are two completely different things. Modern cockpits have an awful lot of automation and technologies intended to ease the workload and improve the situational awareness of the pilots (and others involved in the flight, notably ATC, other traffic, and often your own company). This is regardless of the control design philosophy.

        Again, there are thousands and thousands of man-hours put on by some *very* clever people behind all this technology, so hand-wave comments trying to rubbish it just look silly, with all respect. Things can and are improved, incrementally, all the time, but not because the base is not solid--it's in part because, amongst other considerations, you need to build on previous experience.

        To get back to the subject, the same applies to cars. I happen to drive a car from a certain big German manufacturer that has pretty much every safety option I could find, and generally I am very impressed with the design and how unobtrusive it all is. Here I can talk from my own experience (unlike all the "I'll never drive a car that tells me what to do" brigade one finds in these forums, who clearly have never actually used any of this), and it really does make the driving safer, more relaxed, and less tiring.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just my experience

          "Modern cockpits have an awful lot of automation and technologies intended to ease the workload and improve the situational awareness of the pilots "

          AF447.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just my experience

            > AF447.

            Yes, Mr. Coward, what about it? Please contact the BEA (+33.1.49.92.72.00) with any useful insights you might have.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Just my experience

      "I have to say I'm quite impressed at the quality of the automation we already have... I am also a commercial pilot "

      No, you're quite impressed with the quality of automation you already have. I suspect the rest of us not on commercial air line pilot salaries have a rather more meagre experience of car automation.

      Throwing complex technology into cars to benefit forest dwellers may seem good to you - for me it's simply something extra to pay for and to go wrong. And in my experience, ordinary headlights have a perfectly functional kick-up on the kerb side even on dipped beam that doesn't require a soddin' pooter, optical sensors, servo motors, and projector headlights. Likewise, lane departure prevention, more optics, sensors and buttock prodding actuators, when the intentionally raised cats eyes do a perfectly functional job.

      The connected car is like the smart home: There's a tiny handful of good things in prospect, but 95% of the claimed benefits and opportunities are solutions in desparate search of a problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just my experience

        " No, you're quite impressed with the quality of automation you already have. I suspect the rest of us not on commercial air line pilot salaries have a rather more meagre experience of car automation. "

        Ok, fair point, but someone has to pay and be the early adopters / guinea pigs so that the technology can be improved, costs lowered, and eventually be fitted into lower end models (not that what I drive is what I would consider flashy--on the contrary I prioritise functionality over looks and I prefer inconspicuous vehicles).

        In any case, my point was that people should not be talking about stuff they have zero experience with in such dismissive terms as you find here.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Ignoring lessons

    Doesn't sound as if they've learnt much from the experience of the aircraft industry. Airliners have already tried automating the easy stuff, relying on the principle that the meatware takes over if it all goes wrong; now they're finding that the pilots do so little actual flying that they've de-skilled to the point where they can't take over effectively. The same's going to happen with all these "safety aids" like lane control, road trains, removing the need for the driver to maintain situational awareness, etc.

    I doubt the hard stuff like making cars fully autonomous is realistically anywhere close; not much sign of quadruplex redundant safety-critical systems being designed in, is there?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ignoring lessons

      Oh, they've learnt all that very well. Once every vehicle has these systems on board, it's only a short step to saying "well, people just can't drive safely by themselves any more. Let's ban cars, and just have state-run transport". All these car-hating councils will love the chance to replace all the roads by bus lanes and trams. Except for the councillors/MPs in their ZILs of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ignoring lessons

      «now they're finding that the pilots do so little actual flying that they've de-skilled to the point where they can't take over effectively»

      No they're not finding that. With due respect, that's just utter bullshit from the sensationalist press. Please try not to talk about things you know absolutely nothing about.

      P.S.: What is it with these car articles and the knuckle-dragging mucho macho IT brigade? Gentlemen, why are you pretending to be Michael-Ayrton Fucking Schumacherpaldi Mäkinen on a fucking web forum?

  13. Buzzword

    "check the status"?

    "You’ll be able to check the status of your car long before you slip in behind the wheel."

    What's a car's "status"? I can't think of anything that I want to ask my car before I get in. No doubt the car will just reply: "It's complicated".

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: "check the status"?

      "It's complicated and therefore expensive", in my experience.

    2. L05ER
      Stop

      Re: "check the status"?

      fail to treat your car as a cheap appliance.

      how about... tire pressure, engine and transmission oil levels, coolant levels, belt life remaining, etc... it would be nice to know my tires are outside optimal inflation range when i'm making my daily plan, so i can alot time to fix the issue and maybe diagnose why the status changed.

      1. M Gale

        Re: "check the status"?

        "how about... tire pressure, engine and transmission oil levels, coolant levels, belt life remaining, etc... it would be nice to know my tires are outside optimal inflation range when i'm making my daily plan, so i can alot time to fix the issue and maybe diagnose why the status changed."

        I'm sure that kind of tech could be hacked into a car right now with a bit of engineering skill and an Arduino or something. I don't know how it requires a complete drive-by-wire system to work properly though.

        Bunch of sensors and a transmitter, surely?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "check the status"?

          > I'm sure that kind of tech could be hacked into a car right now

          That technology already *is* on any relatively high-end car you can buy today. All of it, including tyre pressure readings.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "check the status"?

      "What's a car's "status"? I can't think of anything that I want to ask my car before I get in."

      Totally guessing, but maybe someone is thinking that you could say, plan a trip on Google Maps / Via Michelin and upload that to the car over the internet / Wifi, and the car will check whether there is sufficient fuel, correct tyre types and pressure, next service is not overdue, etc., etc.? Or it may simply be a new incarnation of pre-heat systems, or something like that.

      As I say, totally guessing at possibilities. Yes, it probably is a bit of a silly gimmick--then again, it will either find a market (e.g., like Park Assist with some elder people / unconfident drivers) or it will disappear after a year or two.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    CAR-2-CAR finally implements one of Mad magazines finest inventions.

    The directional PA insult horn.

    In the future.....

    "Hey stupid in the Red Nissan. Put your f**king foot down or we'll be here all f**king night."

    Without anyone else hearing it.....

    Exciting times!

  15. Sporkinum

    I'm cheap, so I won't have the whizbang tech until I can get it for cheap in a 10 year old car.

    1. NullReference Exception
      Childcatcher

      Which raises another question - how long will manufacturers keep supporting, patching, and updating these systems? Any sort of interconnected system like this is going to have its share of bugs and security holes that will need to be fixed. There are laws on the books (at least in the US) regarding repair parts availability that could concievably be extended to include patch support, but those generally only run for ten years. I'm not really looking forward to the prospect of having to junk a perfectly-mechanically-sound 11 year old car due to an unpatched security bug in some safety-critical telematics system.

      Hopefully there will be an (offical or unofficial) way to disable all this stuff once it becomes unsupported so we can avoid this situation.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Oh dear god! I forgot about the patches!

        We're screwed.

      2. dotdavid
        Joke

        Patching will be handled like most Android OEMs handle patching; "buy a new car"

  16. Jas 1

    +1 for the driverless car

    Speaking as someone who's face orbs are not to the required standard, A driverless car is something that can't come soon enough. I'm unable to obtain the required written (printed) permission slip to be in control of one, yet I can write the code that will do exactly that :)

  17. Vortigern
    Thumb Up

    Although it will have some downsides it's going to be mostly good.

    There are always neighsayers of new tech which are often right before it's been developed.

    eg. When satnav came out it was worse than what was before (a map) and so quite pointless.

    But then introducing detailed traffic info into it and suddenly it's much better.

    What interests me most about this is the feature that a car can take information from one car, store it and then pass on to one further up the road.

    That's now invented a decentralised communications network - When they add the ability to short text over it it would could help stop any ISP censorship they have planned for the internet as people could hop their data from car to car.

    Would it may be easier on motorways if the streetlights communicated with the cars though?

  18. Steve 13
    WTF?

    Pass a message to cars going the other way

    I don't understand this bit of the article.

    Surely a broadcast at the speed of light (in air, not vacuum), which is rebroadcast by a suitable car 500 metres back and so on (for a given TTL on the message), is more efficient than passing the message to a car going the other way at 100 kph and it rebroadcasting it in 30 seconds...

    I can't see any reason that the direction of a cars travel would matter in the case of motorway traffic and congestion building up, any message can propagate through the network millions of times faster than a vehicle can move.

    Re: the general idea, my commute isn't very interesting, I'd be more than happy to hand most of it over to a computer and have a snooze, or set off later, and start work in the car...

    That doesn't mean that on some days I wouldn't want to drive myself, it's probably <75% of the time though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pass a message to cars going the other way

      «I don't understand this bit of the article.»

      The problem: short comms range.

      The solution: store and forward.

      If you understand that you should be able to figure out the rest.

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Anyone recall this idea of a group of cars "following the leader" with fixed spacing and braking

    They called it (VW if memory serves) a road train

    Of course if you pick had a decent and reliable train service at a reasonable price, and 1 person vehicles you could rent at the destination for the day you might not need a car at all.

    But then no turkey votes for Christmas.

  20. keith_w Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I dont want internet access in my car

    My frigging internet bills are big enough. download music from the cloud? whats wrong with listening to the radio or even a usb stick, or other suitable in car systems? Watch movies? Let the kids count edsels (1 ice cream for each you spot) and back seat movies are only a distraction to drivers behind them - what the heck are those kids watching? Speed control? Excuse me, but there are already enough decisions taken out of my hands for me to be happy to lose this one as well. If the cops want to catch me, let 'em get in their cars and chase me.

  21. All names Taken
    Happy

    Personal preference:

    www.zeromotorcycles.com

    I can appreciate the market potential of in-car connectivities and the potentials these bring - perhaps even silent and unobtrusive interventions to assist the driver.

    On the other hand, creative chaos certainly has attractions?

  22. ecofeco Silver badge
    FAIL

    Gone in Nano Seconds

    Just I what I need. A car that can be stolen by remote control.

    Idiots.

  23. Charles Manning

    Who needs a cell phone?

    When NZ introduced its cell phone laws, I wrote a submission saying that it was stupid to explicitly ban cell phone use while driving. I said that in a few years we could expect wireless hotspots in cars and people could use VOIP handsets that were not cell phones and thus not impacted by the law.

    In this fast-changing world you should legislate against behaviour, not specific technologies.

    Now as for safety... Bah! There is one and only one major contributor to safety in a car: the meat-sack behind the wheel. As soon as technology starts to take over safety, the driver abdicates resposibility to the technology and bad shit happens.

    When bad shit happens, the motorist will obviously try to duck the blame. That invariably means a bunch of well paid lawyers starts dragging engineers through the courts.

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So update policy like a computer mfg or update policy like a mobile phone mfg?

    That said so far embedded software for control on cars seems to be built to a higher standard that that of either the average PC or phone in the first place.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just went with the Toyota Highlander 2013 here

    Backup camera. I find that is quite useful. Wish it had forward camera as well (but you know the idiots in California will watch the camera not the road.) We can get radar and all kinds of crazy cool stuff.

    The only thing I don't like is that my old 70's vw only had eight wires. No computers, no spying. I still don't understand how people with mobile phones can't drive and deal with their phone, I had CB/HAM radio and never had a problem, even with a stick, cigarettes, gum, and a DR Pepper between the legs and a M1 Carbine out the window hunting for DEER. Maybe it's the TEXTING that's the problem?!

    Anyway nanny state crap. The Toyota HL 2013 is just great. I had a Toyota Landcruiser 70's era last time I bought Toyota. That car (er jeep) kicked ass too. Had the top off and drove to Reno once after 4WD in desert wilderness deerhunting D4-D5 fun! I wouldn't take the Highlander into all that Manzanita bush though.. scratch city, I was better prepared back in the 70's to just deal with the jeep scratches/ rock dents Mostly though the SKID PLATES, and ultimately avoiding hitting a 50MPH axle snapper is what matters most ;o)

    Oh yeah, almost forgot, I have a GEIGER COUNTER and no the Toyota Highlander 2013 I got is not hot. The radiation spike after 311 in California was hotter than this car is. Just the facts. It's background level.

    The only complaint I am having is I have had to clear out some crap in the garage to make room for it. It's just bigger than you think for some reason. Even the hanging crap had to come down just to park it in there, I'll be shoveling the MFM drives and 286 circuit card boxes out of the way soon.

    I still ain't got to go nowhere in it cause I been cleaning the Garage. lol

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe fix the ****ing roads first ?

    none of this technology would mean a bean in (say) Birmingham, where the "roads" are more an assault course through open cast mines.

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