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Hi-tech a backward step for this car owner

by Greg Klein | June 13, 2017

There was a time when lost car keys didn’t pose such a problem. If a driver couldn’t wait to order replacements, a clothes hanger would suffice to open the door while a bit of old school skill could hotwire the engine. That was before the computerization of everything.

Now a suburban Vancouver family has had to abandon their Toyota minivan in Victoria because the age-old inconvenience of mislaid keys became an unsolvable quandary. Replacements aren’t available for the import. Computerization has so far ruled out other options, John Higgins told the Victoria Times Colonist.

Well-meaning people have offered to hack the car, “which has a complicated computerized system on top of a hybrid internal-combustion engine with electric propulsion,” the paper stated.

“The problem with having someone hack it is, if they damage it irreparably, we may end up with a worse problem,” Higgins said.

If it was just a gas engine, this would be a different story.—John Higgins

As the paper reported, “in the hybrid system, the engine may work but the wheels are connected to an electric motor that charges the battery. If the wheels spin but the computer isn’t properly configured to recognize that, he said, the batteries could charge until they explode.”

But “if it was just a gas engine, this would be a different story,” the owner pointed out.

The following day the Times Colonist reported he and his family returned home sans minivan.

Meanwhile people struggling with increasingly buggy, unstable and downright erratic electronic devices might look askance at the advent of driverless cars. But skepticism might prove safer than complacency. The Globe and Mail suggests that autonomous autos could ironically become more dangerous as their technology improves. “Drivers will become more complacent, letting the cars drive themselves and not staying alert to that one rare instance when a driver suddenly has to take control. The technology has to become far better than humans for it to work.”

As for Higgins’ keys, anyone who finds them is asked to call him at 604 616-8384. If necessary, recharge and/or reboot your phone first.

See a Visual Capitalist interactive infographic (ironically not functioning on Google Chrome): What futuristic transport will you see in your lifetime?

Learn how an earlier vehicle innovation frustrated a previous generation:


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