Is Tesla the symbol of modern car tech ?


  Software Technology has evolved a lot over the last 10 years.  But still there are some old school technology that we use in our day-to-day lives.  One among them is in-car dash technology.  Automotive sector have embraced technology for better engine throttling and Anti lock braking. But those never made into the dashboard and for the infotainment of passengers.  Lately we are seeing a change in this trend. More and more automakers are adopting modern technology inside their vehicles.

So am I talking about Google Self Driving car here. No !  I love driving and I am not willing to hand over the steering to an on board computer.  But that’s just me.  There are millions of people around the world who just waste their time in bumper to bumper traffic.  It would be great for them if they can use their time productively !

What do I expect from a Next Gen Car dashboard ?

  • Google Maps Navigation– Yes I want “Google Maps” with offline support to power the cars navigation – it is high time we need navigation built into the car directly, but powered from the cloud.  Google Maps gives you’re the power of Google Search, which means less typing and thank God no more fiddling with those old GPS systems.
  • A Google Now like system which can inform on proximity of business which are of my interest based on my previous usage pattern.
  • A highly stable voice assistant  which can control almost anything from climate control to changing the song and even change destination on the fly.  Based on legal requirement and individual preference this can even help replying calls and emails.
  • Better designed touchscreen for the dash. The current systems looks dated by at least five years. And to be frank, they are a visual disaster with poorly laid out icons and overly complicated menu systems.
  • A good operating system which can handle different parts of the car and also totally customizable. I am not advocating either of mobile platforms – iOS or Android but it would be great if these familiar systems make their way into the car.  Not surprisingly Apple just announced their iOS in the car  during this year’s WWDC. More on that in a later post.
  • Currently most modern cars come with Sirius World Radio or Pandora built-in.  I don’t want those multiple freaking smart phone apps to be  all around my dashboard screen, instead I just want a simple and harmonious interface. This can be achieved only by having one cloud radio being part of the base operating system.
  • Intelligent driver assist – Lane assist/blind spot alert with visual indication on the dash, proximity warning system, backup camera, driver warning based on road signs. Most of these technologies has become standard in luxury models.
  • We should be able to power the car’s internet using smart phone. Remote startup using smart phone would be bonus.

And the award for the best tech equipped car goes to

Enter Tesla Model S , yes the darling of Silicon Valley is the winner hands down.

This car has caught my imagination of a beautifully designed vehicle with loads of technology. See a detailed video here. Me being a fan of long distance driving, is not excited about electric vehicles yet; I emphasize on the “yet” because I reckon that it is the future.  Tesla Model S has a range of 200 miles after which it need to charge for half an hour.So what’s special about this car ?  You take a sneak peek inside and you will be astonished that it does not have knobs and dials, instead it has a large 17 inch touch screen which is similar to a tablet fitted on your dashboard. I have played with this touchscreen recently and must admit it is pretty cool. Tesla accomplishes most of the above in my wish list except that it has a built-in 3G connection which needs freaking AT and T connection.  It also lacks all driver assist except backup camera.

Audi S7 emerges as the runner-up.  This is a gas-powered car with lot of modern technology. Audi has equipped this car with adaptive cruise control which means your car can come to a complete stop and start again when the traffic moves. Like Tesla it has got built-in 3G connection, comes integrated with Google Maps and Street View. Audi’s driver assist is pretty impressive and to me it is the best of the lot.  But unlike Tesla this car ‘s software looks pretty outdated.

Some of the dashboard equipment providers are now moving fast. QNX announced their updated platform which will support Android apps.  Nvidia  is working towards an Android based Car dashboard.  It would be interesting to watch this space as multiple vendors and technologies wage war to take control over your car.

If you are like me and excited about all these developments, do let me know your thoughts by leaving your feedback or comments below.