I led off my Mazda CX-90 first drive with an anecdote about GPS misadventures. This annoyed some of you in the comments, but I thought it was a nice setup to preview my conclusion.
The wild goose chase that Google Maps sent me wasn't the first time I experienced -- or heard of -- a reroute to nowhere.
Over the last few weeks, there has been an influx of news articles linking Apple’s AirTag tracking devices to car theft. Apple released the coin-sized device in April as a way to help people keep tabs on their keys, luggage, any number of other personal possessions. But reports have emerged claiming that thieves are now using them to mark and track vehicles they later want to steal.
The scenario usually begins with a person who has parked their automobile in a public lot when a thief spots a model worth taking. The device is then affixed to the vehicle in an inconspicuous spot and the criminal waits until the owner is fast asleep. However, some version of the story also involves crooks targeting high-end automobiles in the hopes that it resides at a home with similarly high-end goods worth robbing. Since there are similar devices on the market, it’s odd that Apple would be singled out. But the AirTag was updated by the company to reduce the length of time the trackers would need to be away from its owner before it began to alert iPhone users who have been traveling in close proximity to the device as a way to prevent stalking attempts. This resulted in a number of them being found out before cars were stolen.
The wonders of modern technology allow us to enjoy an endless list of conveniences and pleasures. It’s amazing we’re so miserable.
Our cars can brake on their own to avoid the nearsighted neighbor boy; lane-hold systems can keep us on the straight and narrow, while in-dash navigation systems and even our phones can offer verbal directions to the destination of our choice. No longer does man have to suffer with paper maps and dead reckoning. The stars adorning the heavens are there just for decoration these days.
And yet technology still has the annoying tendency to fail at its job.
It’s Elon Musk’s birthday today, so we’ve decided to wish him well and say congratulations on Tesla Motors convincing the U.S. Commerce Department to waive the 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum so it can build more battery cells at the company’s Nevada Gigafactory. However, what would birthday well-wishing be without the all-important pinch to grow an inch?
Another Model 3 has been hacked, this time without the manufacturer’s blessing. We’re equating it to a mild goosing. Regulus Cyber, a company specializing in digital security, decided to give the Tesla (and a Model S) a shakedown by seeing if they could fool the car’s navigational equipment and upset/confuse Autopilot to the point of failure.
Let’s see how they did.
The next time you use Google Maps to plan a road trip, you might notice some changes. Maps is now providing live updates on posted speed limits across the United States. Previously, this feature was only available in San Francisco. However, other parts of the country started seeing the feature crop up late last week as Google updated local servers.
This author saw changes on the app as early as January 18th. Travelling a bit too far from major metropolitan hubs or major highways has proven coverage has not yet gone nationwide. Google says it hopes to soon remedy that by implementing the service across the United States, United Kingdom, and select parts of mainland Europe. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, Waze (also owned by Google) has had this feature available for years, and remains the more robust navigation platform.
Our personal biases frequently lead us to condemn any number of advanced automotive technologies. That’s partly because we’re dinosaurs who fetishize vintage automobiles that, in reality, are actually far worse than we like to pretend. But it’s also because most modern-day tech sucks harder than a jet-powered Dyson. A large portion of that problem stems from automakers implementing technology solely to appease regulators or line their pockets with cash.
Fortunately, this isn’t always the case. You sometimes end up with things like power windows, torque vectoring, the dual clutch transmission, and satellite navigation. And while it’s still handy to know how to read a map, GPS has made car-based voyages a breeze, and it’s only getting better.
Waze, a preferred navigation app for many, offers community-confirmed accident information, fuel pricing, and speed traps. Since its purchase by Google in 2013, the system now finds itself baked into Android Auto. Things are progressing rather nicely, as a new partnership with Volkswagen implements features that cater specifically to driving enthusiasts.
Apple Maps has been a lackluster tool for navigation since its launch. Of course, you probably don’t know this because you’re statistically more likely to back out of the driveway using Google Maps or Waze. That’s because the latter programs seem to work as intended. The same cannot be said of the former.
While Apple can get you down a major highway without incident, it frequently falls apart when you start asking it to make sense of a complex, overlapping network of roads or sparsely traveled rural area. Meanwhile, Google has already mapped the same areas twice and taken photos of every blade of grass within 100 square miles.
Upon launch, Apple Maps was plagued with issues. Areas were left blank, locations were misnamed, landmarks were misplaced. Had it come out a decade earlier, it’d have been a technological marvel. But with competent competition readily available, the iOS-based navigation system was (and remains) unacceptable. So Apple is giving it a complete overhaul.
GPS tracking devices are a common sight in cars sold by “Buy Here Pay Here” dealers, and some are even showing up at franchise dealers. A lot of speculation exists about how the devices work and what they can actually track, but most of it comes from third-party reports.
Working as a tracking device installer for a brief period of time gave me an inside view of that market, allowing me to share what actually goes on behind the scenes.
A new study suggests drivers who follow GPS directions regularly do not engage their hippocampus, highly limiting the development of an internal map and making them more dependent on navigation devices. We’ve all heard accounts of London cabbies with juicy, swollen central lobes, stemming from the requisite training and memorization of city streets and landmarks. It turns out the inverse may also be true. This may be another classic case of if you don’t use it, you lose it.
The University College London discovered the hippocampus (used for direction and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (used for decision-making) both saw elevated levels of activity whenever drivers turned down unfamiliar streets or had free-choice to follow along their route. However, those making use of navigational systems produced no additional activity in those areas whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada.
TTAC Commentator Waftabletorque writes:
I’m having an issue diagnosing a navigation system problem on my 2002 LS430. I’ve gone a few years with the GPS link not working, which means it no longer receives a satellite signal and defaults to dead-reckoning mode (the GPS symbol disappears on the touchscreen). It’s a nuisance issue but it’s low on my priorities.
It also happens that I’ve been using a dashcam for the last four years. I never linked the two together until I had a couple of dashcams go bad in 2016, and spent the whole summer without one. Well, my GPS started working again, and I chalked it up to a warm summer fixing some sort of electrical wiring fault in the antenna.
Once I got my fourth dashcam in September, I noticed my GPS stopped working again. It was getting cold in the mornings and I thought my good luck spell had ended. Then, it occurred to me that maybe the GPS gets disabled when the 12V was in use. I’ve since found that it’s true for all three of my 12-volt ports (cigarette lighter, arm rest, rear seat cigarette lighter).
None of my other electrical loads (seat heaters, defrosters, seat massagers, headlights, fridge, etc) seem to trigger this issue, and I replaced the car battery in 2013.
So, what’s my next step? Is this a grounding issue? Voltage issue? A conspiracy of aftermarket electronics deliberately disabling automotive functionality?
Everyone loves a good mystery, and in Russia it seems there are many. Read up on the Dyatlov Pass incident if you’re looking for a reason not to go camping.
In the country where a bearded charlatan once inspired a great disco song, something odd has cropped up in recent months. Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.
The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.
Apparently, it’s Technology Tuesday here at TTAC, so we can bring you news of a device that will kick your deeply held fears to the curb.
Vehicle hacking has been an issue ever since a Jeep Cherokee had its steering, transmission and brakes commandeered last summer, and an Israeli firm is now offering protection against keyboard warriors, according to CNBC (via Business Insider).
An alert from one of the local news stations popped up on my screen last week asking readers to be on the lookout for a stolen unmarked police cruiser. My first instinct was to warn family and friends that an impersonator was out on the loose. Once I got the word out, I started analyzing the situation and thinking about vehicle tracking. I wondered why the local police department did not equip their cruisers with some sort of GPS tracking device which could have allowed them to locate the vehicle quickly without putting the public at risk. I have some experience with GPS tracking in a couple of different fields and decided to do some research on patrol car GPS devices.
In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon.
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- Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
- Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
- Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
- Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.