/ Wringing Data from Your 3000lb Computer

I’m an auto enthusiast. There are few things in this world that I appreciate more than the sexy shape of an Aston Martin, or the ridiculous number of horsepower that Porsche can eek out of a six-cylinder engine.

I’m also (to a slightly healthier degree) obsessed with data and analytics, and for some time I’ve become increasingly disappointed in the amount of data that cars are capable of making available, and yet do not. We know that onboard computers are becoming more and more sophisticated; auto insurance companies are pulling data from vehicles to determine drivers’ premiums. But for the drivers themselves, analytics are being massively underutilized in our vehicles.

Here are the analytics that cars are fully capable of providing that I want now:

How Much Does Speeding Cost Me?

Based on the average fuel price in my area, it would be simple for our cars to calculate how much extra I’m paying for the privilege of driving my standard 9MPH over the speed limit. It could be costing me a few extra cents, or it could be whole dollars; I would be interested in finding out. Maybe if we all knew what our driving style is costing us, maybe we’d modify our driving behavior.

What Effect Does Tire Pressure Have on My Mileage?

My tires get low sometimes, and they’re often not exactly the same PSI. I know that affects my mileage, life of my tires, and possibly other internals adversely, but if I can’t easily observe all the variables, then I can’t fully understand the causes and effects of it.

The car’s computer can know, via sensors and steering inputs, how much of a drag under/over-inflated tires are placing on the car’s operating efficiency. If we all knew how much this simple maintenance is costing, we might be a little more incentivized to take the time to correct it.

How Much Does Hitting Red Lights or Rush Hour Cost Me?

I know that when I hit all the lights green on my way to work, I can get there in 8 minutes. I know when I hit red lights, it’s closer to 11. I would love it if my car would keep track of my commutes and other trips, giving me statistics.

I would love to know how much it costs me in both fuel efficiency and general wear and tear to hit a red light.

Or how about knowing how much money it costs me to sit in rush hour traffic, versus leaving slightly earlier or later.

I would push strongly for the ability to submit this feedback to local governments for the purpose of persuading them to implement better light-timing systems, allowing cars to have to stop less often. If governments knew that it was costing taxpayers more to sit in heavy traffic than it would be to open another lane or two, they could justify expenditures to improve commute quality.

How Much Is My Driving Style Costing Me?

With the use of sensors, a car could tell whether its driver has bad driving habits which hampers efficiency. For instance, a driver who brakes too late during a turn loses the momentum he should be carrying through a turn, which results in decreased fuel economy. Or another example would be the driver who constantly accelerates hard every time the light turns green. If we knew how much bad habits like this affected our wallets, we’d have a tangible incentive to be better drivers in the name of efficiency.

I would love for my car to provide me this data so I could make decisions about how to improve my transportation. Am I the only one? What data would you want from your car and what would you do with it?

Tags: data

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