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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsMotoring  / Technology in cars: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Wacky

Technology in cars: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Wacky

Technology in cars: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Wacky

To paraphrase from a well-known song, cars and technology – they go together like love and marriage.

But, akin to some marriages, things don’t always work out…

Today we’re going to have a look into the wonderful world of union between technology and the car industry.

Highlighting some divine matchups, hellish pairings and couplings which make you question both your, and the engineers’, sanity.

The Good: technology in cars

1. Driver Assist Systems

It may seem a boring thing to start off with, but really, anything which can help reduce accidents has got to be up there as a great thing.

Cars today come with a virtual smorgasbord of technology which aids the driver when it comes to safety. From innovations such as lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, blind spot alerts, assisted parking and much more.

Tesla autopilot

(Image: By Ian Maddox - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67227170)

Vehicle manufacturers are continually pushing forward the realms of safety for both drivers and pedestrians – and this can only be a good thing as the technologies are finetuned.

2. 360-degree camera system

Rearview cameras have become quite commonplace and are very helpful when it comes to parking. A few manufacturers have taken it further by introducing 360-degree camera systems.

A 360-degree camera system is made up of several cameras located around the car – normally in or around the grille, side mirrors and the rear of the car.

360 parking camera

As the driver, they enable you to have a bird's eye view of the vehicle as you are reversing. Making parking in tight spaces a breeze - and allowing you to check for children and other dangers when reversing.

3. Tesla’s Dog Mode

I know what you’re thinking. ‘James is only including Tesla here so he can point out that Blackcircles.com sells tyres for EVs’.

Well, we do sell EV tyres as it goes, but that wasn’t the point of this - and you were the one that brought it up, not me.

Anyway, back to our last piece of this section – you’ve likely read a horror story or 2 in the past of dogs being left inside cars on hot days. With this often ending in disaster. Tesla have tried to overcome this issue by creating ‘Dog Mode’.

Tesla Dog Mode

With Dog Mode an owner can set the internal temperature of the car. The cars systems will then maintain this, until the driver returns.

To reassure people passing by – who may become concerned of a dog in a car - a message is displayed letting people know that your dog is safe.

Dog Mode is a standard feature available in:

The Bad: technology in cars

1. Fiat in-car espresso machine

In 2012 it was revealed to the world that the Fiat 500 L had the option (in some markets) to feature an espresso machine. Bafflement and serious questions were raised at the time regarding this rather odd decision.

A distraction? Maybe – although the machine only works when parked. Risky? Again, possibly – hot coffee and car safety are not a great mix, to be honest. Pointless? The majority seemed to think so.

Fiat coffee machine

Why sit in your driveway or parking lot when you could go inside a nice warm building to make/buy a coffee? It never really caught on. Quelle surprise.

2. Carbon Fibre Cars

Carbon fibre cars seemed like they may become more mainstream around ten years ago. Alfa Romeo and BMW both launched cars that made use of this lightweight material.

However, for now it remains a niche production method. To make a vehicle from carbon fibre is far too labour and time consuming to compete in the fast world of automotive manufacturing.

Plus, advancements in other areas of car manufacturing have left the idea of a carbon fibre car sitting at the side of the road, twiddling its thumbs.

3. Jet-powered Cars

Jet powered cars sound cool… but so far, practically there has never been a way to make them work.

In the 60s Chrysler attempted with the 1963 Turbine Car’s small, under-bonnet jet engine. However, it could not be used without the risk of incinerating drivers, pedestrians or… well, anything really.

Chrysler Turbine

(Image By Karrmann - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2567908)

In the more modern hybrid era of cars Jaguar presented their original CX-75 concept car – which hinted at the use of micro-turbine engines. But cost and noise were too much, with the idea being shelved not long after.

The Downright Wacky: technology in cars

1. The ‘Dog Sack’

What could be better than sticking your best friend in a sack, tying them to the side of your car and whizzing about town doing your errands… Yeah, seems a bit weird, doesn’t it.

Car dog sack

(Image: Popular Mechanics)

Perhaps this was the inspiration for Wallace and Gromit...

2. Car microwave

Microwave ovens are a common household appliance that can be used to cook food quickly and easily... they do not belong in cars. This seems a self evident truth. But, there was a time when it seemed like cars may come with microwave ovens, an optional extra, as part of the vehicle.

Chicago Town pizza on the go anyone? Nah, didn’t think so.

3. Flying cars

‘Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads’. How great would it be to say those famous lines in the real world? 

Flying cars have been a staple of science fiction for decades, but the reality is that they are a somewhat crazy idea. Not only would they be expensive and complicated to build, but they also rely on an infrastructure that doesn't exist.


But, who knows what the future holds. For now, I feel they belong in the wacky category.

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