Some nannies are young, pretty, glorified babysitters, irresistible apparently to half of Hollywood husbands. Others have nasal voices that drive most of you insane. Still others are reliable and practical like the HBIC Mary Poppins. But this post isn’t about them. This post is about the bane of a gearhead’s existence: the automotive nannies that car makers insist on shoving into their offerings in ever-increasing numbers year after year. If, like me, you read the interwebz for your daily auto news fix, you’ve likely noticed the proliferation of articles dedicated to reminding us the Apocalypse is surely nigh, because how else can one explain the need for half of these devices?
I expect this kind of crap from Volvo but now I get the feeling that Benz, BMW and their brethren are just having a laugh at us these days. As in, “Let’s see how many enthusiasts we can piss off today by announcing another utterly ridiculous device which is useless to anyone with an inkling of driving skill.” Surely it has to be a big joke to which we weren’t privy, right?
Allow me to share some of my “favorites”:
• BMW is working on a left-turn “assistant” which uses sensors to help someone make a left turn safely. It’s activated by the turn signal, or in the more overwhelming case of when one isn’t used, the car can predict the turn by scanning for road signage and gauging oncoming traffic. It’s activated up to 6mph and therefore is defeated when the driver peals through the intersection at 15 in an attempt to beat the oncoming semi.
• Several makes already employ a form of lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. I don’t know, maybe I’m old-school but I think properly-aligned mirrors and the hacked-off motorist I’m about to hit, blaring his horn at my idiocy (were I to ever commit such an egregious sin) is warning enough, but that’s just me. The idea of my car gently applying the brakes to nudge me back in line just makes me shudder at all the implications of it.
• Ford now wants to use its SYNC system to check on the health of their drivers who might have chronic ailments. Really? We can’t even get the elderly to admit that their skills may be slipping with age and therefore get off the road, yet you’re expecting people to willingly admit they have a health issue and allow their cars to call the shots in case of an emergency? Let’s not even get into the likely HIPPA-related litigation this is sure to cause.
• Last but not least is Google’s recent push to have us all in self-driven cars (Prii, no doubt) in the near future. I can’t even contemplate this without getting the vapors and needing to be revived with smelling salts at the idea of not being allowed to drive myself around anymore.
Yes, I think I see the Four Horsemen off in the distance. Perhaps I’ll hitch a ride with one of them, as long as there’s no black box on board for the purposes of determining our insurance rate when we come to an abrupt stop due to a Google Prius on auto-pilot meandering into our lane.