As I write this, the 2018 North American International Auto Show is underway in nearby Detroit, the self-proclaimed center of automobile manufacturing worldwide. While science and technology is generally credited with shifting human potential into hyper mode, automotive technology puts all this accumulated know-how on the road and into the hands of everyday men and women.
A driver of older cars myself, I cruised the internet for views about must-have automotive technology for 2018.
1. Connected Mobile Apps - to remotely lock and unlock the doors, check fuel level and tire pressure, and start the car on cold mornings.
2. Teen Driver Technology - notify parents if the car is driven over a certain speed, disable the stereo if seatbelts aren't used, and even keep the stereo from being turned up past 7
3. Adaptive Cruise Control - automatically match the speed of the car in front of you, allow car to be brought to a complete halt and then resume automatically in stop-and-go traffic
4. LED/Xenon Headlights - LED bulbs that never need replacing, swivel to illuminate around corners and auto-high beams that prevent blinding other drivers while maximizing driver’s view
5. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - Plug in your smart phone and it replaces the often user-unfriendly do-it-all screens of the automaker with an interface more like the more familiar look your phone offers.
6. USB Ports - every new car comes with one or two, but the Chrysler Pacifica has nine. Some vehicles are even coming with the same 110-volt power outlets that you'll find in your home.
7. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - sensors alert to approaching vehicles, shopping carts, or pedestrians in low-speed places like parking lots where many accidents occur. Some cars can even automatically brake before a collision occurs.
8. Lane Departure Warning - cameras that determine if a car has drifted across a marked lane line. Some systems even help nudge you back into the proper lane, a life-saver if you were heading into opposing traffic.
9. Automatic Emergency Braking - sensors to determine if a forward collision crash is imminent and automatically applies the brakes to diminish the severity or avoid a crash entirely.
10. 360-degree Camera - that can show a virtual top-down view of your surroundings and avoid the mishaps that insurance claims indicate are the most likely to occur.
Against this technological dazzle, a recent adventure in our family revealed that even the latest and greatest innovations have their limitations. My wife drives our “newest” car, a 2006 SUV declared “pretty basic” by our son whose lease car is one of today’s “electronic-everything” varieties. However, I just helped him haul his all-of-a-sudden, non-running car to a repair shop due to a mysterious electrical issue triggered by the recent sub-zero cold snap. The car starts but cannot be put into gear. (Fortunately, the truck we borrowed to pull the car hauler trailer featured an older, “mechanical” shifter that performed reliably!)
Wrote the prophet Isaiah,
“All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever." (Isaiah 40: 6-8, ESV)
While we love to boast about our gadgetry and credit technology with taking humanity to new heights, all we are and ever will be pales before the majesty of God, like grass that withers and flowers that fade.
A good perspective to fall back on when our stuff lets us down, as it surely will.