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Best improvements in automotive-related technology?

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ZLoth:
I was listening to Dallas's lone Classical music station on the radio (having jsut canceled my SiriusXM subscription), but the over-the-air FM reception was glitchy due to some nearby power lines, so I switched over to the streaming feed through the Radio Garden, and the audio quality was much better. This lead me to thinking what technical improvements in automotive technology have made driving easier or more enjoyable. I realize this is a subjective list, and some of this is more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but good food for thought.

My picks:

* Automotive Headlights - Sealed headlights were first introduced in 1939, and used a parabolic reflector. Halogen lights were introduced in 1962. Now High-intensity discharge (HID), LED, and even laser headlights make it easier to see the road and be seen at night.
* Anti-Lock Brakes - When I was much younger, we were told to "pump" our brakes to avoid our tires locking up and losing control on a wet road. ABS was introduced in the late 1970s on the extremely high-end cars to help retain control and pump much faster than us humans can.
* RFID (radio frequency identification) Toll Tags - Anyone who has driven a tolled road or bridge a decade or so ago knows of the challenge of coming to a full stop, fishing around the car for loose change, and paying the toll, adding minutes to their long travel. RFID toll tags have improved traffic flow by having the drivers drive through a toll gantry at speed, improving traffic flow and traffic safety especially in the toll booth area.
* Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) - Anyone who has had uttered the saying "We're lost!!!" and "Where the heck are we?" can appreciate the GPS technology to show us exactly where we are on earth. Bonus feature includes the calculation of speed based uon position.
* Dashboard Cameras - If you want a example of the combination of both miniaturization of technology and technological improvement, just look at dashcams. The dashcams can fit in the palm of your hand, but with a large microSD memory card, can store many hours of footage. There are YouTube channels which post the questionable behavior of other drivers, plus GPS shows your speed and position in case of a questionable ticket or insurance claim,
* Car audio... now with Bluetooth - The evolution of car radios has been a subject of many an article. Up until the early 1980s, an AM radio was "standard equipment" with only a single speaker on top of the dashboard, and anything beyond that was a "expensive option". At that point, there were aftermarket options for eight-track, cassette tape, and CDs that, for some vehicles, became standard equipment before being discontinued, with only Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Ford being the vehicle manufacturers that still offer CD players on certain models. Nowadays, you have a very good sound system in your vehicle, and Bluetooth has gone from just "answering calls" to part of your audio options.
* Smartphones - You knew I was going to bring this up... but smartphones have to included (in my opinion). These multi-functional devices in a small package replaces multiple devices. GPS Navigation? Yup, replacing dedicated units, and especially helpful when moving to a unfamiliar city. Guide books and restaurant recommendations? There are apps for that. Audio player? There are apps for that to play back music files replacing cassette tapes and CDs. Steaming music services and listening to your favorite hometown station while traveling in another state? You bet. Unabridged audiobook player replacing a stack of CDs or tapes? You got it.
What are your thoughts?

Max Rockatansky:
-  Traction control has improved to such a point in the last couple decades that rear wheel drive cars have become viable in all climates again.

-  Electronic fuel managment in the last couple decades has allowed internal combustion engines to far surpass the performance (and by far fuel economy) of pre-Malaise era cars by a significant margin.

-  Standardization of airbags since the turn of the 1990s have made all automobiles far safer during crash impact.

GaryV:
Electric starter has to be on the list. Getting rid of that crank was a major improvement.

Also, elimination of the gravity-flow fuel system. Some cars had to go backwards up a steep hill so that the gas would still flow to the engine.

I realize both of these are from a long time ago, but they are major improvements.

skluth:
The catalytic converter. For those too young to have seen it, the smog around many major cities in the 60s was unbelievable. The smog around Beijing today isn't much different than the LA smog of fifty years ago. The improved health of city children after removing lead from gasoline is also one of the best improvements.

Road Hog:

--- Quote from: skluth on November 26, 2022, 11:37:30 AM ---The catalytic converter. For those too young to have seen it, the smog around many major cities in the 60s was unbelievable. The smog around Beijing today isn't much different than the LA smog of fifty years ago. The improved health of city children after removing lead from gasoline is also one of the best improvements.

--- End quote ---
The next great invention will be an anti-theft device of some sort that keeps thieves from cutting off and stealing these catalytic converters. They cost thousands of dollars to replace on some models.

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