Home » Why Pushing The Defrost Button And Adjusting Mirrors And Seats Is So Silly, And How I’d Automate These Tasks

Why Pushing The Defrost Button And Adjusting Mirrors And Seats Is So Silly, And How I’d Automate These Tasks

Automated Functions Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

Crank windows? Manual transmission? Climate control with just HOT and COLD on a lever? The simple, poverty-specification car is something that I truly respect. Our own Jason sings the praises of basic transportation devices, and he makes a strong, viable argument for them.  Still, I have to admit that I’ve never owned one, or even had any desire to. It’s sort of like granola cereal and going to bed by ten; I know it’s good for me but I can’t get my head around the idea. Typically, I gravitate toward vehicles that have, as one Australian acquaintance said, “everything that flaps and wiggles.” Indeed, my current car lacks the power adjustable headrests and electric cargo cover of my previous ride, and it’s a tragedy that I have to live with each day of my life now. Some Autopians want the manual-everything machine, but my belief is that there’s nothing wrong with labor saving devices in a car, and there’s actually technology sitting in vehicles right now that could be used to create ways to automate them.

Don’t Stare Into The Sun

I mean, why can’t sun visors lower when you, say, turn to drive west at 4PM on a sunny day in December? Actually, that one is already being worked on, and it doesn’t bother with physical flip down upholstered blocks hanging from the headliner. Bosch has developed a system that blocks off parts of the windshield or a visor screen when it senses sun.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom
Screenshot (809)
Bosch

“Developed” is the key word since the idea itself possibly came from a post on some other car website by our own Jason Torchinsky.

Screenshot (816)
Jalopnik/Jason Torchinsky

That wouldn’t be the first time that The Man stole from The People. Or an Edison stole from a Tesla. That sort of thing. Also, not sure why you want that beehive-looking shit when you could just have the entire upper section of windshield to just go darker; those moving hexagon blobs look distracting.

Blind To The Rear

Here’s another one. On any car, why is there manual rear defogger switch? Isn’t it possible for it to automatically turn on? I mean, the car should KNOW that the rear window is opaque with condensation or ice, right? Hell, even forty years ago Nissan offered such a device on the equipment-laden 280ZX (a car that talked to you and had two gas gauges). See the sensor in the red rectangle below (closeup inside view on the lower right)?  The dash switch had an AUTO setting in the middle.

ADVERTISEMENT
Z Rear
Gateway Classic Cars, ebay, craigslist

Reports on Z car sites claim that it didn’t work very well, but I have to believe that four decades worth of technological advancements could make this a functional reality today, don’t you?

Too Much Choice Is A Bad Thing?

The main thing I want to talk about right now is seat position, and how to automate that. Many new cars offer a myriad of settings and adjustments for your seats which, according to one of my teachers at College for Creative Studies years back, can actually cause more harm than good. Most people don’t have a clue how to properly set their seat; this list of recommendations from Geico I don’t often stick to; I’m either the “racer” or the “hunchback” and don’t even know it.

Geicomore Drivingposture Original 1 600x400
Geico

Too many choices in cars equates to too many ways to screw things up and turn your comfy chair into a torture device. The instructor even offered an example of a (then new) Pontiac he had taken from the GM motor pool. Look at this shit:

R4gj1djy Kuadsihrwg
Cars and Bids

I remember reading a review of the original Honda/Acura NSX when it was new, where the reviewer claimed the car had the most comfortable seats he’d ever experienced despite the fact that the only adjusted in four ways- sliding front to back and backrest angle. See the big Fisher Price toy-sized controls inside the red rectangle below? That’s all you get, son:

Nsx Seats
Marshall Goldman

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Likely this comfort level was achieved because the designers and engineers worked to get the position right for 80 to 90 percent of the population and then just locked it in so the owners couldn’t screw with it. I know they are on record as even having development assistance from some random driver guy of a Honda-powered race car. He appears to be able to drive stick real good:

Our Volvo 200 Series front seats were the same way- absurdly comfortable despite only being able to adjust for fore-and-aft slide, backrest rake, and a knob for lumbar adjustment (though you could adjust the height in those with tools, supposedly). Well, the jail bar headrests weren’t so comfy, but still.

Volvo
Cars and Bids

Let The Machine Decide

One solution is semi-automatic adjustment to pre-set ergonomically ideal positions. This involves an interface for you to enter your height into the touch screen and have the seat, wheel, and mirrors adjust to the correct setting, or at least close to a setting that should work for you. Mercedes offers that now.

Screenshot (810)z
YouTube

ADVERTISEMENT

Still, this requires menus and touch screens that many loathe; why can’t it be automatic? Does your car know how tall you are (and how much you weigh) the minute you sit down? I think it might, or at least some cars do. Several manufacturers place a tiny camera on the steering column or in the gauge cluster aimed at the driver’s eyes to be sure that they are paying attention to the road. It’s part of a drowsiness detection system, like these early ones from Panasonic and Bosch:

Panasonic Drowsiness Control System
Panasonic
Stage Fahrermuedigkeitserkennung
Bosch

If such a camera exists (and likely will soon on far more cars), then can’t the information the camera provides (combined with the current position of the seat) tell how tall you are? I mean, you should know this, but iPhones have the feature now:

So if the camera knows your height, then the car could easily adjust the seats, wheel, seat belt height, plus inside and outside mirrors to the ideal position.

H Point (rev)

ADVERTISEMENT

Note that I said “inside mirror” as well as outside, since I think more cars should copy the system Thomas mentioned which existed in the W129 Mercedes roadster (it was on the overbuilt and overengineered W140 S-Class sedans as well). On these cars, a three position mirror switch let you manipulate the rear view mirror without having to physically grab it. This seems like something designed for lazy people that say things like “I want to work out but the exercise ball is ALL THE WAY OVER THERE!” I assure you it isn’t. To reiterate what Thomas said: You can accurately adjust the mirror while your head is in the correct position instead of leaning forward to adjust, lean back to test, lean forward.

Also, why DO we have to adjust the rearview mirror manually if everything else is automatically set? If there’s another driver for your car, and the other driver of the car is half a foot shorter than you (as they might be), you will have to move it every time you get in after she/he returns the car.

Mirror
ebay and Mercedes via Netcarshow

If there’s a heads up display that would also adjust automatically for height since that’s easy enough to do. Unless you had a 2007 BMW with the feature, in which case you need to remove the i-Drive screen, get every extension out of your socket set, and work in the dark inside the dashboard to wrench it up. I never told Mercedes Streeter about that one.

There’s another strange phenomenon- we all shrink during the day. I’m not making this up. According to Todd Sinett, DC, a New Your City-based chiropractor and author of The Truth About Back Pain, the discs in your spine get compressed from being upright all day. You’re tallest when you wake up and you may be as much as one centimeter shorter by the day’s end. I have needed to adjust my mirror at night on certain days and I always wondered why, and this could be a possible reason.

Driver Shrink

ADVERTISEMENT

What about that weight sensor I mentioned earlier? Well, this one might be a bit more embarrassing, but also necessary. I mean, if you’re five feet tall and weigh above a certain amount, I am guessing you might not want the steering wheel that close to, you know, parts of your body that, uh, extend out more than they do on a “standard” sized figure. Besides, that’s dangerous to have an airbag that close to you. Again, you can fine tune the location, but at least this would get you within hailing distance and you aren’t sitting for five minutes in a Hertz lot trying to make the car fit you.

Weight sensors in the rear seat would do more than just tell you there’s objects (or kids) to not forget sitting there when you turn off the car. Based on the weight in the rear seat, the car would know to limit how far back to allow the automatically adjusting front seat to go before crushing a rear passenger’s legs.

Is this kind of automated seat moving possible with today’s technology? If it is, should we embrace it as a step forward or just one more move to making our lethargic asses even more lazy? You must decide.

Relatedbar

Quick Question: Where Should The Rear Defroster Button Go And What Should It Look Like? – The Autopian

ADVERTISEMENT

Why Windows Down In Modern Cars Suck And How To Possibly Fix It – The Autopian

The Passenger Seat Is The One That Should Be Powered: Prove Me Wrong – The Autopian

The New Tacoma Has Air Shocks In Its Complicated Seats. Let’s Look At Them – The Autopian

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
91 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vc-10
Vc-10
9 months ago

I’m fairly sure my car turns on the rear defroster by itself under certain conditions. It certain does the heated seat and heated steering wheel, and it’ll automatically demist the windscreen too. I basically only ever adjust the temperature, when when it comes to climate controls.

Goblin
Goblin
9 months ago

The car pushing buttons for me would really push my buttons.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
9 months ago

My new car has only fore-aft adjustment on the seats, and even that is only on the driver’s seat. It’s really comfortable too.

Rafael
Rafael
9 months ago

I’ll admit that more than once I read “Mercedes” was wondering if you meant our Mercedes or the car company.
I propose that from now on the Autopian always tell us when they mean the car company, and leave just “Mercedes” for our own 🙂

Subarado
Subarado
9 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

Even “Mercedes Benz” would help enormously

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
9 months ago

I suspect the Bishop to be on Bosch’s payroll. Pretty sure he gets a cut everytime a sensor goes bad and a four digit repair bills is printed.

P Hans
P Hans
9 months ago

I remember adjusting my rear view mirror TWICE daily: 6am going into work: 3pm gong home from work. It was pretty annoying.

Watching Senna is always super entertaining. He liked to keep the throttle all the way in for as long as possible, or just tickle it in the corners, I think this is something he learned from his carting days to keep his motor more ready than the next guy’s, and also make sure he finds the absolute edge of adhesion

Kody Dagley
Kody Dagley
9 months ago

No thanks. I’d rather do it myself.

“Why Pushing The Defrost Button And Adjusting Mirrors And Seats Is So Simple, Why Would We Ever Waste the Tech and Effort to Bother Automating These Tasks Is Beyond Me As People Are So Ridiculously Lazy These Days”
More tech we don’t need. Most people, if it’s their own car, adjust the mirrors and seats like…once. Even if they need to be adjusted again for a significant other, say, who shares that same car, it can be done by the driver in a matter of seconds.
Creating tech to automate this is completely pointless and just unneeded extra crap to go wrong.

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
9 months ago
Reply to  Kody Dagley

some of the higher end cars have the seat (common) and mirrors (not that common) memory programmed to the key. You get in the car toy get a setting, my wife gets in the car the car adjusts to her settings.

Kody Dagley
Kody Dagley
9 months ago

True, but as an example, I’ve never had a manual mirror break on all the cars I or our family have ever owned, but we have had power mirrors break 3 times that I can remember.

Also have never seen a manually adjusted seat break either, but a friend of the family had one motor (I think it was height adjustment) break in the power seat in her Toyota (I forget what model…Camry I think?) and that cost her like $1400….(she’s short so she and her husband who is taller have to adjust them each time they get in).

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
9 months ago
Reply to  Kody Dagley

i never had an electric mirror break on any of my cars, and they were power all the way back to the 91 loyale. The only time i had an issue with a mirror was when i smacked it on the garage door when backing in.

For electric seats i can’t think anyone of my acquittances that had issues with them either. Power seats are a feature that i can take it or leave it.

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
9 months ago

More tech we don’t need

Jblues
Jblues
9 months ago

Automatic seat positioning would need to know more than just your height and weight, though. It would need to know how long your arms are and how long your legs are.

I’m one of those long-torso, short-legs people and it’s very difficult to even be able to manually adjust a seat and steering wheel to fit me comfortably.

And while we’re at it, why not have an adjustable elbow rest located on the door?

Trouthawk
Trouthawk
9 months ago
Reply to  Jblues

Same here. Even with all of the adjustments available in my Audi, I’m either sitting too upright (with my hair brushing against the headliner) or having to extend my arms almost fully to reach the steering wheel.

Eric Woodward
Eric Woodward
9 months ago

Mercedes-Benz already implemented automatic seat adjustment (not just with manual height input from the driver):

Automatically adjusting driver’s seat and steering wheel position to body size.

If the vehicle has the Interior Assistant, the driver’s body size can be determined automatically using the 3D laser cameras in the overhead control panel.

page 112 of the 2022 EQS owners manual.

Last edited 9 months ago by Eric Woodward
Knowonelse
Knowonelse
9 months ago

When we were moving, mom got the 300ZX. I was in the vehicle behind and watched as immediately after starting to move, mom jumped out as the car was talking! “Left door is open, fuel supply is low” kept repeating! Mom was no technophobe, but it was startling.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

Some LeBarons had this obnoxious feature too.
“Passengers side door is ajar”
“Passengers side door is ajar”
“Passengers side door is ajar”
We thought it was really cool for about two days.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

That car’s computer and I often argued over semantics.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

Over or about?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

If you gut and seal off a door,
then use it for the primary purpose of pickling vegetables, is it still a door? Or has it become a….

Last edited 9 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

Who won or lost these arguments between the LeBaron and I is not important.

Parsko
Parsko
9 months ago

No it’s not, it’s a door.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
9 months ago

Auto them all! Our Rav4 Hybrid has two position seat memory, and when I forget to select 2 for my seat position I regret it immediatly as get crushed trying to sit down.
Defrost should be automatic front and back as it should be an easy detection.
Mirrors, all of them, should have a two position setting if not automatic. Such a hassle to adjust that I leave them at my spouse’s setting and just look/work around lack of easy visibility.
Sun shade absolutely should be automatic. When light comes in from the rear side and reflects off the inside my my glasses it is really distracting. I put a manila folder over the entire left visor tape into a giant tube so I could slide it back to shade that location.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
9 months ago

I’m a restless driver.

I gradually change the settings on pretty much everything in the car whenever I drive more than about 50 miles.

I love power accessories, but automating them wouldn’t help me a bit.

91
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x