Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

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Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Gary Lewis
Administrator
Yesterday I received an invitation from Ford to be part of what they call The Driver's Connection.  Apparently it is some form of user group/focus group that they'll bounce ideas off of.

In the questionnaire which was used to qualify there was a section on high tech in vehicles and one of the questions asked if I'd be willing to use a driverless vehicle.  I said "Yes", but had reservations.  And here are two reasons I have reservations:

My 2015 F150 has the adaptive cruise control that will slow you down behind another vehicle so you keep pace with them.  That sounds great, but there is a flaw in the system - it will some times shut down while passing a truck.  Imagine running along at 70 MPH with someone following you a few car lengths back and all of a sudden, with no warning, it hits the brakes!  Mine has been in for the recall and it still does it, so I've turned that feature OFF.

That truck also has a lane keeping feature where it can nudge the steering to bring you back into your lane.  It works by sensing the white or yellow lines of each lane.  I've had that turned off since literally Day 1 when it didn't like me moving into another lane to miss the proverbial dead skunk in the middle of the road.  But recently we drove the truck on a trip and I turned it on for grins.  Then, last Saturday I drove the truck when it was below freezing and misting.  The overpasses were starting to freeze and as I passed over one of them I felt the steering wheel nudge me back into the lane - and the rear end started to come around.    Needless to say, that feature is well and truly OFF as well.

So, I really do have apprehensions about high tech in vehicles.  It isn't that I don't like tech.  But apparently some of the systems don't have the smarts needed to do the job properly.  For instance, the cruise doesn't know if someone is following closely so can slam on the brakes and cause an accident.  And the lane-keeping system doesn't know if the road is slick, so can nudge the steering and cause an accident.

Perhaps the driverless vehicles have better inputs to the system, but......
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/soon-to-be ZF5/3.55's & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

grumpin
I don't like it myself. I would turn off what you have too. It cannot make human decisions, and yes, there are many humans who cannot make human decisions!

I've worked on aircraft with sensors and relays and all. And they fail. Autopilots are great, they give the crew a break and it's difficult to fly aircraft at 40,000 feet. But the crew has control and can switch it off.

I like tech also, and it has its place, just not controlling cars, IMHO.
1986 F250 XLT Lariat 4x4 460 C6
1992 Bronco XLT 4x4 351W E4OD
1998 Suburban LT K2500 454 4L80E
Oregon
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

The Human Wrench
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
I'm not a big fan of all that tech stuff. Mainly, how in the heck are we ever gonna have a demolition derby when these vehicles get old if they won't let us run into each other, back into anything etc.?Really, though the problem I see with auto driving cars is that someone could hack into it and take control. And sooner or later someone would.
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

NotEnoughTrucks
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
When I was working on the railroad, the concept of Positive Train Control, (PTC) came up. This was an enormously unpopular concept among the running trades as they feared job loss. Every time there is a wreck, the public is reminded of this technology and how it has the possibility of eliminating the human error factor, thus saving lives. I won't go into detail, but the logic is irrefutable. Every time a crew misses a signal, or enters a curve too fast, etc., a potentially dangerous situation develops. Driverless trains may be a frightening concept, but the reality is that there is little a human crew can do to effectively change the dynamics of a moving train in a manner timely enough to avoid disaster. All moves must be preplanned and followed exactly. There is no room for error and this is something PTC excells at.

In the automobile, such systems would also reduce risk, but there is a lot of risk incorporating driverless vehicles with human piloted vehicles in our current traffic flow. It would have to be all or nothing and such systems will dramatically change our way of life. Personally, I accept the risk and I am not looking forward to change.

I welcomed the changes we saw with the introduction of EFI in our 1985.5 and up bullnose trucks and I think 1986 was a milepost for Ford in adopting this technology. I am not so much of a fan of the same EECIV systems when used earlier with the feedback carburetor. I guess you could call it growing pains.

I also welcomed the move to OBDII diagnostics in 1996. I am familiar enough with electronics that I do not get intimidated by wiring and I see the logic of electronic control even to the extent of transmissions such as we currently have in our vehicles. My biggest concern here is the drift towards special protocols for each and every manufacturer, even down to individual models in some cases. Open sourced software would be welcomed.

I think it is possible to go too far with technology, particularly when you use proprietary systems to control simple tasks. For example, body control modules, (BCM at Ford) create frustrating problems with simple circuits like interior lighting resulting in costly fixes at dealership shop rates. Many of the technicians trained in the last 20 years simply are module switchers. This would be fine if guesses were inexpensive, but as a consumer, $500 modules and $100/hr. shop rates must be guaranteed right the first time. Sometimes, removing the light that will not go out becomes the most cost effective fix and I would be OK with that, except sometimes this thinking drifts into more safety sensitive systems. When all the simple problems line up in the right order, you end up with a train wreck.

I am already preaching and technobabbling, but I could go on. I'll apply the parking brake manually at this point!
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Gary Lewis
Administrator
Having spent 3 summers and 1 winter on the railroad, and having had a father and a brother who retired as "hog heads" (locomotive engineers), I do see the advantages of PTC.  But railways have a limited set of circumstances when compared to automobiles.  For the most part, trains stay on the rails so you know where they are at all times, and when they go on the ground they don't travel vary far.  And by the time that proximity sensors could detect things coming from the side, front, or rear it is too late given the distance it takes to stop them.

But automobiles live in a much wider set of circumstances.  The TSB on the adaptive cruise control problems referred to reflective trucks, like the stainless milk trucks, but even with that fix applied mine still catches glimpses of something when passing trucks.  And the programming on the lane assist didn't take into account black ice.  So how many other things did they overlook or improperly accommodate?

As for body control modules, within the first 24 hours of owning my 2011 Murano it decided to turn the headlights on and kill the battery.  The dealership put it in a dark section of the shop and caught it doing it several times, so replaced the BCM with the last one in North America.  It cost them $2000 in parts and who knows how much in labor.

So I'm not a fan of all the technology.  When it works properly it is great, but 30 years down the road how easy is it going to be to keep those things working?  

The exception, to me, is EFI and computer-controlled transmissions.  I've not read about the EECM's failing, and the rest of the system is fairly straight forward.  So my thinking is that an OBD-II equipped vehicle, meaning one that can easily tell you what the problems are, will be fairly easy to maintain.  So I'm happy to implement that tech into my trucks, but balk at the extensive and intrusive tech that makes life-threatening decisions for me.
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/soon-to-be ZF5/3.55's & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

NotEnoughTrucks
We're already seeing the 30 year down the road point. And yes, parts are becoming a little harder to find. I think we also are seeing a trend towards recycling vehicles quickly and completely instead of scrapping them and harvesting any useable parts. The aftermarket will not step up to provide replacement parts unless there is a sound business plan to do so. What is new and shiny on the dealer's lot today is a disposable vehicle and will be shredded 5 or 10 years later. Our bullnose trucks may be among the last of the old ways.

Another thought on the technology in the modern vehicle is the amount of data collected and possible privacy concerns. This really becomes a double edged sword. On one hand, data related to vehicle operating parameters can be invaluable in a crash investigation. You may not be so happy about it when your insurance company uses your data to determine your risk and calculate your premium. Same with location. OnStar, (yes, GM term, I know) was probably one of the first here and the notion of making that call to unlock your car, or track a stolen vehicle is great, but does the rest of the world really need to know where you are, where you've been and how fast you got there? I'm sure the marketing folks can and do use that data to target ads
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

85lebaront2
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
I feel much the same and one of the issues is politicians, most of whom are lawyers. Some one gives them a "great safety idea" and suddenly it becomes a mandated requirement in a few years. Collision avoidance sounds great on paper, but as has been pointed out has issues in the real world. One of my neighbors has a 2017 Subaru with their "eyesight" system to keep the car in the lane, he demonstrated it to me driving down US 13 here. Works pretty well, but does wander a bit if you take your hands off the wheel.

Some high tech items are great, like Bluetooth enabled radios or entertainment systems, EATC systems are nice particularly around here where you can start the day with ice on the windshield and wind up in a few hours needing the A/C on. Plain cruise control is fine for me, don't want or need adaptive cruise.

Story on fancy high tech entertainment systems, our 2011 Flex Limited has the headrest mounted video system for the center seats. Not long after we bought it, I ordered the navigation system (which I like) updates to the tune of $400 as it also includes the radio updates to display the name of the song and artist. When I went to install it I kept getting a "unreadable format" error on the touch screen. I contacted the company that provides the system for Ford and they replaced them with a another set. After a consult with the service manger at Kool Ford, he suggested the head unit might be bad and suggested first seeing if it would play a DVD or CD at all. No, would not work. I found a used head unit on eBay from an LKQ used part supplier and ordered it, USPS did a number on the box and one of the mounting ears was bent. I went ahead and disemboweled the center of the dash (I have the three volume "tome" for it) and switched it. Hooked up the controls and tried it, same result. I felt it might have been damaged in shipping and notified the seller who informed me he didn't have another one, keep it and refunded my money. I found another one and order it, but in the mean time decided to try some old fashioned diagnostic methods. First I found when I went into the menu for the entertainment system, it showed the drivers side headrest DVD player as "on", ok turn it off, hmm, won't stay off. I removed the unit and unplugged the power leads. Tried the navigation updates and they installed perfectly. Unit still has the power lead unplugged.

When I purchased it used I only received one key, the expensive beast with the built in remote. Ok, bite the bullet and buy one from the dealer as it takes 2 in order to add an additional key. 2 hours later after Kool Ford cutting a new $50 (my cost) key, they could not program it to the vehicle. He cut a "service" key with no remote and was able to program it with no problem, gave me the key, and said "no charge". I opened a problem with Ford, which gave him some extra support, no help. Mary found a key on eBay, a 64 bit Stratec key, the ones Kool has from Ford are 128 bit Stratec keys and are supposed to be backwards compatible, sure, if you erase the BCM and start from scratch with the new keys. Found out the hard way, do not leave one in the ignition inside the garage (old habit from shop owner days). I left it in the garage during and after one of our blizzards and when it was clear, found the battery was dead. Putting the key in the ignition "wakes up" the electronics.

Enough on this, I do like my older, less complex automatic headlights, even though the Taurus sensor is sometimes a temperature sensor and in cold weather will turn on the headlights in broad daylight.
"Getting old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
Darth Vader 1986 F-350 460 converted to MAF/SEFI, E4OD 12X3 1/2 rear brakes, traction loc 3:55 gear, 160 amp 3G alternator
Wife's 2011 Flex Limited
Daily Driver 1994 Taurus LX
Project car 1986 Chrysler LeBaron convertible 2.2L Turbo II, modified A413
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Rembrant
In reply to this post by NotEnoughTrucks
NotEnoughTrucks wrote
Another thought on the technology in the modern vehicle is the amount of data collected and possible privacy concerns. This really becomes a double edged sword. On one hand, data related to vehicle operating parameters can be invaluable in a crash investigation. You may not be so happy about it when your insurance company uses your data to determine your risk and calculate your premium. Same with location.
I really dislike all this data collection and tracking stuff that is so common these days. We have to just get used to some of it and learn to live with it unfortunately. Even if your vehicle isn't tracking everything, your mobile phone is already doing it...even more than we care to admit or think about. I've listened to and read some interesting discussions on our devices (potentially) listening to our conversations...and not just when on the phone either. Some people say it is already happening, some argue that it is not.

I do however really enjoy and appreciate the capability of today's car stereos...or whatever they're called now...entertainment centers?>..lol. I'm still driving an old VW diesel (2006 model, sold new in 2007) and I plan to keep driving it for years to come. Eventually I'll have to buy something newer with all of the modern tricks and trinkets, but for now I'll keep pretending it's decades away...lol.

How about a trade off? I'd be more accepting of the newer technology if they'd at least give me the option of having a vehicle with a manual transmission;).
In rehab: 1984 F150 2wd Flareside pickup. Original 302 with GT40 heads, Comp Cam XE256H, Holley 4bbl, and BBK shorty headers. M5OD-R2 5spd trans swap. Plain Jane with no A/C and no radio.
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Gary Lewis
Administrator
Yes, we are being tracked.  Both my wife and I've had experiences where we've looked at something in a store, like Walmart, and then gotten home and have adverts on Facebook for that thing.  We didn't Google it, we didn't email about it, and we didn't take a pic of it.  But it showed up.

So, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think we are being tracked more than we think.
Dad's: '81 F150 Ranger XLT 4x4: Down for restomod: Full-roller "stroked 351M" w/Trick Flow heads & intake, EEC-V SEFI/E4OD/3.50 gears w/Kevlar clutches
Blue: 2015 F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew wearing Blue Jeans & sporting a 3.5L EB & Max Tow
Big Blue: 1985 F250HD 4x4: 460/soon-to-be ZF5/3.55's & EEC-V MAF/SEFI
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Rembrant
Gary Lewis wrote
Yes, we are being tracked.  Both my wife and I've had experiences where we've looked at something in a store, like Walmart, and then gotten home and have adverts on Facebook for that thing.  We didn't Google it, we didn't email about it, and we didn't take a pic of it.  But it showed up.

So, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think we are being tracked more than we think.
Went through it a few months ago at Best Buy. We were discussing a product with one of the techs in the store (Office 365) and 15 minutes after leaving the store, I received an email with an offer of Office 365 touting all of the benefits, etc. It creeped me out because I know the phone tracks our location(s), and it obviously tracked that I was in a Best Buy and that I had left, but how did it know what we were talking about in the store?...lol. It may very well have been a coincidence, but you never know, right?...Call ME a conspiracy theorist, but we are being tracked more than we think we are.

Anyway, my overall point was, if you don't want your vehicle having the ability to track and/or monitor your every move, that's fine, but you better be leaving your mobile at home when you go driving...lol.

It won't be long before your phone and your car's OBDII system communicate automatically anyway. Maybe that's a reach, but that's the way everything is going...whether it is to track emissions or your speeds, rolling stops, etc, the communication will become easier. Who has access to it will be the real question.

A coworker of mine voluntarily installed one of those OBDII plugs that the insurance company gave him, supposedly to reduce his premiums, etc. It's not something I would do personally, but my point was, eventually you won't need that little plug/module, and eventually the communication will be enabled by default like everything else in the world;).

I hope it doesn't seem like I'm a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist....I'm not, really...I'd just prefer to leave some things alone in the world.


In rehab: 1984 F150 2wd Flareside pickup. Original 302 with GT40 heads, Comp Cam XE256H, Holley 4bbl, and BBK shorty headers. M5OD-R2 5spd trans swap. Plain Jane with no A/C and no radio.
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Ray Cecil
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
self driving vehicles in my opinion are a product of our lazy consumer society. Who the heck is so lazy they can't drive themselves somewhere? Okay okay...what if you can't drive? Well, call a taxi, or your mom. What is the point with all this self driving stuff? I don't want Chin Su Li in China being able to hack into my vehicle via satellite and run me into a lake for fun. Okay...that is probably unrealistic, however, what happens when AI gets so smart it can control everything? I'd rather have an old car running on gas and points, and have a faraday box around the coil.  AINT NOBODY GUNNA GET ME THEN!!!





Ray Cecil
1969 Impala Custom Coupe
1999 Silverado
2008 Tahoe

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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

1985 Bronco
This data tracking really scares me. I've been seriously considering going low-tech with everything again. This is a very interesting article about data tracking

http://thechive.com/2018/03/28/shocking-amount-of-data-google-and-facebook-have/
1985 Ford Bronco

1995 Ford C150 Four Door Bronco: Converted to a Bullnose, 351W, 4x4

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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

Ray Cecil
In reply to this post by Ray Cecil
Ray Cecil wrote
self driving vehicles in my opinion are a product of our lazy consumer society. Who the heck is so lazy they can't drive themselves somewhere? Okay okay...what if you can't drive? Well, call a taxi, or your mom. What is the point with all this self driving stuff? I don't want Chin Su Li in China being able to hack into my vehicle via satellite and run me into a lake for fun. Okay...that is probably unrealistic, however, what happens when AI gets so smart it can control everything? I'd rather have an old car running on gas and points, and have a faraday box around the coil.  AINT NOBODY GUNNA GET ME THEN!!!

Oh I forgot, DRONES....If they can't shut down my car....they'll blow me up....oh well may as well get a Tesla then...
Ray Cecil
1969 Impala Custom Coupe
1999 Silverado
2008 Tahoe

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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

neoniacin
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
You ARE being tracked in some stores. There are devices that will track you through the store to know what you are looking at using your wifi/bluetooth on your phone.

Typically this data is used to improve store layouts but not impossible that some stores would sell this info.
1981 F100 Custom - 4.9L 300CID I6, C4
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Re: Thoughts About High Tech In Vehicles

mp470
In reply to this post by Gary Lewis
I do have a newer vehicle as a daily driver - a 2013 Toyota Matrix.  It doesn't have any big fancy features in it, but of course it uses drive-by-wire, electronic power steering etc.  I find I prefer the driving experience of these great trucks to any modern vehicle with a million buttons, TPMS, etc.
1985 F-150 XLT Lariat, 5.0 EFI, RWD, 8.8 Axle