Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Survive the Drive....part deux

There's nothing like 30 hours in your car to make you appreciate (or not) the finer points of automotive engineering. Lets be honest--for the most part, when you initially decide to purchase your car, you either buy it because it's a) affordable, b) you fell in love with it or c) both. I mean, it's rare that you just go out and buy a P.O.S. car because it seemed like the thing to do at the time or it's what you want to show off to your friends and drive your family around in. But when you've made that oh so fabulous decision to drive across country (either for pleasure or on a whim), this is when you learn just how sound your decision making abilities are. For your consideration, I submit the following observations: after the first 10 hours in your car, you determine if the seats really are as comfortable as you thought they were on those weekend jaunts to the grocery store. At about hour 15, you learn if your vehicle really can withstand the harsh driving conditions you're subjecting it to (like tailgating the slow driver in the left lane who hasn't figured out that's the PASSING lane, or driving through torrential rains in one state only to hit 100-stupid degree heat in the next). Right around hour 20 you ponder whether or not you could just scrap the idea of buying a house or renting an apartment and consider if this thing is comfortable enough to live in (since by now it's not just your car, but your bed, your dining room and makeshift kitchen). And finally, rolling into hours 25 through 30, the brink of insanity has you wondering if you're really going to want to even look at this stupid thing again after you finally get to where you're going, much less ever want to turn the engine over again, or if you're just gonna want to push it off the first cliff you find.

At least we have slightly more modern conveniences in vehicles now than our parents did...and you know what I'm talking about many of you remember driving to those summer vacation destinations in the back of a station wagon? Do you remember if there was air conditioning back there, much less a DVD player? What about satellite radio? ANY radio? Were there even seat belts back there? These days cars, trucks, mini vans, and SUVs have all these nifty little gadgets and conveniences that make not only day to day, but cross country travel much, much easier. But 35 hours into a 48 hour trip, I find myself thinking about a few things that automotive designers should consider when designing the next year's concept cars.

First and foremost...while I am HUGE fan of heated seats (and even those nifty little cooled seats in some models), we need a car company to come out with built in massage seats--ESPECIALLY in the driver's seat. How nice would that can get a little shiatsu with sitting in all that shiatsu traffic. Little lower back kneading action...little shoulder blade rub. Now there is the possibility that something like this could put you to sleep...but meh, but it's a risk I'm willing to take to show up at my destination all relaxed and zen like.

Next big award winning about a retractable floorboard that opens up to a nice relaxing hydro-foot-massager. Ahhhh....imagine soaking those little piggies after a long, hard day on your feet (or having suffered in high heels all day). Now this would really be designed for those of us who use cruise control to drive home with--it could get a little messy if you have to keep taking your feet out of water to hit the brakes while navigating that northbound I-5 traffic on the way home. But those soothing little bubble massagers may just make it worth the mess.

Now I remember watching The Jetsons as a child and that by now we were all supposed to have flying vehicles. By now I've decided that a flying car is overrated. What we need instead is auto-pilot. You know the're running late in the morning....still have to do your make-up, your hair, eat breakfast, whatever. Instead of having to fuss with the mascara, breakfast sandwich and hairdryer while trying to, oh, y' couldn't you just be able to jump in your car, press "Work" on your GPS device and have your car navigate the roads for you and GET you to work (instead of just telling you which way to turn)?? Imagine how much more productive we'd all be--or how many extra minutes of sleep we could get in the morning, since auto pilot could make your car become your own personal vanity area, kitchen, office, whatever.

And finally, for all you cross country travelers--if auto pilot wasn't available, how about a modern twist on hitchhiking? But this time, instead of standing on the side of the road with your thumb out waiting to climb in the cab of truck driver's'd use your CAR instead. Picture this--for a nominal fee, you could hitch your vehicle to the back of a semi that's already going your way. You could get to your destination hassle free--or, even just a portion of the way there. Why do the work if you could just mooch off of someone already doing it for you? Again, a few logistics to work out so as to make sure you don't go drifting into random lanes or plow into the back of the semi during sudden stops--but it could work.

Now again, it's possible that the 36 hours in this vehicle has started affecting what little sanity I had left....but I'm really thinking that someone at Ford, Honda, Nissan, or Kia could benefit from some of these nifty thoughts I had at around 3am.

Or maaaaaaybe I need to get outta this truck and push it off the nearest cliff.