Sunday, February 27, 2011

New car, part 2

In my last post I wrote about Consumer Reports, partly as it related to buying my new car.  While I wrote that I was struck by two related testing issues.

My latest car, a Ford Escape Hybrid, has Sync in it.  Although I've identified several bugs with it, and the voice recognition needs to be improved (especially when there's lots of road noise), I have to give them credit: it's a very slick piece of software with plenty of nifty features.

Back in 2004 I realized that, at least in America, cars were not going away anytime soon, although they would certainly need to change.  Gas prices would have to go up as emerging markets like China and India increased their energy requirements.  So I bought a Prius in February 2005 and have loved it ever since.  But it now has close to 200k miles on it - I'll probably need a new car soon.  So I've been considering an all-electric car like the Volt.  In my preliminary research I found a great article that pointed out the huge amount of electronics and software in this vehicle.

I guess the point of this post is that software in vehicles is going nowhere but up.  The integration of phone/MP3/bluetooth that Sync offers, management of electrical power generation and consumption in hybrid and electric cars, onboard navigation, or even future features such as automatic driving: this will all require huge amounts of electronics and coding, and therefore LOTS of testing.

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