In the world of Advanced Automotive Technology, the folks at GM are often referred to as trail blazers. Back in the 80’s the first version of cylinder deactivation was introduced on some Cadillac’s and while it may have been a dismal failure it’s hard to argue with The pioneering spirit that brought it about. Go back a few more years to the mid 60’s and we find the variable pitch torque converters on some Buick Riviera’s and Oldsmobile Toronado’s front wheel drive transmissions. The idea was to increase fuel economy by hydraulically increasing or decreasing torque converter stall speed and while the idea was great, it really didn’t work very well and shortly after the platform launched it was cancelled.
Well fast forward to current date, GM is once again blazing a trail and this time it’s their HUD development. ‘Heads Up Display’, has been around for years and the basic idea is to project important information onto the windshield directly in front of the driver. (The idea actually comes from Military Technology) It’s a great idea and here today the technology is as good as it’s ever been but as you can imagine there are lot’s of people lining up on both sides of the discussion.
There are those that argue that too much time is required to refocus your eyes. Here at Horsepower Broadcasting we wondered if that was true and accurate so we conducted our own unofficial experiment and we found it took a second or two to unfocus our eyes from the road in the distance and refocus on the display a few feet from our face. That transition, or the “clock speed” on eyeballs was just a bit too long.
Do the test yourself: Look 100 yards away for a few seconds, focusing on a sign or building in the distance. Then, without moving your eyes or head, place a sheet of paper in your line of sight, the shift is not instant.
Still others contend that giving bad drivers more things to look at isn’t a part of the solution. Here in the United States it seems like we’ve dumbed down our driver education system to the point that we really just let anyone with a pulse out on the road. We no longer offer drivers education in our high schools and once a young person turns 18 they are eligible for a drivers license even though they may have had no training whatsoever. Saddling poor drivers with more information seems counterintuitive to getting them to focus on what should be the most important task at hand and that’s piloting the car.
Lastly, there are those that think that the majority of us are too easily distracted. If a driver looks out on the windshield and sees a pink alert around a road sign, will they miss another car pulling out in front of them? We’re not color blind but we know how easily (and lamely) our brain makes decisions. Will this hurt our ability to prioritize what’s important on the road?
Here at Horsepower Broadcasting, we’re fans of the HUD technology. We’d like to hear from you…on which side do you weigh in?
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