- The Washington Times - Friday, November 23, 2001

Surely you've heard how everything is going to hell these days, the air, the water, the land. There is no progress, only decline.
Happily, folks in the auto industry have been ignoring these dire predictions and have made terrific progress. The subtle refinements and improvements of today's autos are incredible.
For example, now you can:
Unlock the driver's door, or both front doors of your car, with your remote keyless entry system.
Roll down the windows of your overheated car as you unlock the car.
Detect the pressure in your tires as you drive down the highway.
Open the trunk by remote, by holding down a button on the keyless remote for more than a second (to prevent inadvertent release).
Tune your radio or change the volume without taking your hands off the wheel.
Navigate to a new location without asking anyone directions and calculate your estimated time of arrival automatically.
Fold your car key when you put it in your pocket.
Make a phone call or change gears without taking your hands off the wheel.
Today's cars can even do the following:
Automatically call the police for help if you are incapacitated in an accident that deploys the air bags.
Roll down the windows an inch when you close the door to let air escape, then roll them back up.
Fade the lights automatically when you enter or leave, by using "theater lighting."
Turn off the headlights when you park, should you forget to do so.
Clean the headlights at the touch of a button.
Automatically adjust your ride according to the road you are on.
Move the steering wheel out of the way automatically when you enter or leave.
Suggest when to pull over and take a break on a long drive.
Calculate your miles per gallon instantly as you drive down the highway.
Increase the radio volume as you increase speed.
Automatically brake or accelerate to regain control if you are losing it.
Wait, there's more.
Now, some cars have a chip on the ignition key that periodically changes the code necessary to start your car, in order to prevent theft.
Some car radios have a function that shuts them down if the power is disconnected, preventing theft. They can only be "restarted" with their unique code.
Speaking of radios, when you are traveling cross-country, some radios have a button that will retune your set to the most powerful stations in the area, substituting them for your memorized stations. When you get back home, the radio reverts to your originally memorized selections.
And how about heads-up display, which projects speed, tachometer readings, miles and other vital information on your windshield so that you don't have to look away from the road to read it?
If you think that's good, a few cars are introducing enhanced night vision to let you see distant objects sooner on an unlit highway.
Then there are heated or ventilated seats, to keep you warm or cool, depending on the weather, to say nothing of "massaging" seats that inflate and deflate a cushion imbedded in the lumbar support.
Some luxury cars even have sound equalization that adjusts based on the number of people in the vehicle.
One car manufacturer (try to guess which one) makes a serious nod to personal sensitivity with an interior air-quality system that purports to prevent unpleasant odors from entering by sensing impurities in the ambient air and instituting in-car air recirculation so the air is cleaned by an active carbon filter. (Hint for the question above: The name means "I roll" in Latin.)
Is this a great time to be driving, or what?


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