You know what people breathe? Oxygen. You know what they exhale? Carbon dioxide. You actually inhale and exhale everything in the air, but these are the important parts. You and trees, working together to keep each other alive.
Speaking of breathing in things you shouldn't, you know what cars exhale? Carbon monoxide and nitric oxide -- two very dangerous things. Breathing these gases will not keep you alive. Cars are not trees.
But cars are not, as we've discovered, evil robot overlords, either. They want you to live! Thus the sensors found in the interior of the Acura RLX that detect the presence of exhaust gases and alert you to the danger. Open all the windows and get thee to a dealership pronto.
Author's Note: 10 Problems Cars Can Diagnose By Themselves
You may wonder how we writers decide who to interview for our articles. The first criteria is that they do the thing I'm writing about, in this case, build self-diagnosing technology into their cars. The second criteria is that they call me back.
In this case, I picked BMW as one of the manufacturers to interview because I had a 7-series test car a couple of years ago that was so sophisticated it made me feel like an extra on "Jersey Shore." Not even one of the stars. It gave me more information than I could ever use about the state of the vehicle, which I promptly ignored. There was information in the dashboard, on the LCD screen -- everywhere. The car was smart.
Turns out it was also trying to tell me I had a flat tire. Like, really flat. It was making it pretty plain, with pictures and yellow and red warning lights and everything. I finally took the car in to a dealership, where they fixed everything right up.
- Environmental Protection Agency. "Tools and Resources, Regulator Standards." EPA.gov. (Feb. 14, 2013) http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/reg-prog.htm
- Honda media room. "Acura Debuts Next-Generation AcuraLink Connected Car System at Los Angeles Auto Show." HondaNews.com. Nov, 28, 2012. (Feb. 11, 2013) http://www.hondanews.com/channels/corporate/releases/96912463-d01d-4d7f-9a1d-9cf5d0567133
- Labrie, Paul. Technical service, electric systems, body and interior manager for BMW. Phone interview conducted on Feb. 14, 2013.
- Shepard, Tom. Manager, automotive technical operations for Acura. Phone interview conducted on Feb. 14, 2013.
- Unger, Don. Acura RLX staff engineer for Acura. Phone interview conducted on Feb. 14, 2013.
- Volkswagen. "Dashboard Indicator Lights." Begoodtoyourvw.com. (Feb. 7, 2013) http://www.begoodtoyourvw.com/service/dashboard-indicator-lights/
HowStuffWorks looks at how scientists are using new technology, along with GPS and LIDAR, to map country roads so self-driving cars can use them too.