Computers and cars are rapidly converging. Microprocessors are present in almost every car, and control anything from braking to locking the doors. For many people, this is disturbing especially when things like the throttle and steering are no longer mechanically linked to the driver. Some people fear glitches like those that afflict computers and others see the trend as unsettling but ultimately beneficial. What isn’t discussed much are the ways in which this could give unprecedented control of the vehicle to the driver.
Cars such as the Honda CR-Z take advantage of the flexibility provided by electronic modules to give the driver the option of three distinct driving modes (eco, normal, sport). The ability to reconfigure the car, without leaving the driver’s seat, is one of the great advances the computerization of the car makes possible. Drivers in the future will most likely control their cars through a completely electronic interface, more akin to playing a video game than anything else; and as in a video game they will be able to customize and recalibrate their car. Getting better gas mileage the future could be as easy as downloading a ‘green car’ program.