Computers tracking what happens in your car?

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Updated Thursday, May 22 at 6:22 AM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

Experts say your car has now become so high tech it is virtually a computer on wheels.

"You have enough computers in a late model GM car to fly a 747 around the world," said Banner Chevrolet Service Director Tom Giroir.

"It controls almost every aspect of the vehicle, comfort, performance, safety," added American Automobile Association Regional Service Manager Jon Klisart.

"A lot of it is very good, very positive," explained AAA's Don Redman. "I mean, if you're locked out, they can unlock your vehicle, if your car is lost, they can help you find your car. If you're stranded, it can call for help for you."

You'll find a lot more than one computer in the average vehicle, you just don't see them.

"This is the computer, the main computer, it's basically the brain of this vehicle," said Kev's Kars Manager Keith Barrette.

"When you turn the wheel, it turns a servo, which sends a signal to the computer that controls the steering on the car," explained Kev's Kars Owner Kevin Goitia.

Some have sonar under the bumpers to watch the road around you.

"It hits off the other car, and it rebounds back, and it tells you on a little light on the mirror, says there's another car next to you, don't change lanes," said Kevin.

Even the tires can have tiny computers.

"It's a tire pressure sensor, these are inside the wheels of the vehicle," said Keith.

Think twice about driving down a flooded street. It could destroy expensive computers mounted on the floor boards.

"The computers range in the price of the computer range from $400 all the way up th $1000 on different makes," warned Keith.

"A car can easily be totalled out," cautioned Tom Giroir.

But as the number of computers in cars multiplies, and they grow more and more sophisticated, there are increasing concerns about the data they're collecting.

"They all save their data, those computers are constantly feeding information," said Klisart. "That data is streamed by wi-fi to manufacturers, and different companies out there that pay to receive that data."

"Right now I get emails on my desktop once a month from Onstar that tells me the condition of my wife's car, which she's driving," said Giroir.

"I mean they got control over you, they know what you do in your car, how fast you go, how slow you are, when you get in an accident, everything else," cautioned Randy Galliano.

"And the idea that there is data being kept, possibly being sold to you don't know who, you don't know why, it's terrifying," said ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman.

AAA recently surveyed members, asking whether 'Consumers should always be able to decide if information generated by their car can be shared and with whom.' 61% strongly agreed, 13% agreed somewhat.

"You're talking about three out of four saying 'wait a minute, first of all, I didn't know its communicating, but I do want to know who is it talking to, and what are they doing with my information, and I want to be able to have some control over that information,' said Redman.

"There ought to be a way that the public is required to opt-in, and not opt-out," added Esman.

AAA lobbyists in Washington are working with Congress to make sure consumers are protected.

"Right now we're seeing on the West Coast pilot programs where you're taxed on how many miles you drive," said Redman.

"But the bigger fear really is Big Brother," said Esman. "Really is govermnent surveillance, the government having the ability to track you."

"State Trooper pulls up, you're in an accident, you can't tell him 'oh I was getting ready to make a left hand turn, I was on the brakes, I was doing this, because he can plug a scanner into your automobile, a late model car, and find all that information," said Giroir.

The abilities of computers in cars will keep expanding in the future.

"It's gonna get to the point where we're not going to drive a car anymore," concluded Giroir. "The car will drive you."
 

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