When most of us aging folks were young, we had to learn many new skills in order to operate automobiles, boats, aircraft and other mobile equipment. Who can forget the first few times we drove a clutch-equipped car or truck? Getting the quick coordination of releasing the brake, applying power and releasing the clutch on a steep incline seemed unnaturally awkward. But we mastered it!
We faced other challenges, like backing a trailer, driving large vehicles, docking a boat, flying an aircraft by instruments and much more. Each of these required the honing of a skilled coordinated touch.
Today the skills we once learned are becoming obsolete, replaced by computerized intelligent software. The danger of rolling backward on a steep grade with a clutch-equipped vehicle is gone. Instead, in many of today’s vehicles, the automotive brain applies the brakes to prevent this event totally. Far faster automatic-like double clutch transmissions are controlled by small paddle switches and now rule the roost. So, scratch that skill!
The docking of your 28-foot power boat that used twin engines, or skillful rudder and power management, is slowly being replaced by a single computer joystick. Your 10 year old child will probably be able to dock this better than you.
Flying an aircraft in I.F.R. (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions has been, and is, a daunting task requiring the skilled interpretation and coordination of many factors and functions. Today, the Garmin G-2000 Glass Dash coupled to the auto-pilot can manage it all. The “Fly-By-Wire” is controlled by a touch screen with a “Flight Simulator” look and feel. Oh well, might as well let the kids do the flying now. Just never admit that they can do it better than you.
The driving of large vehicles like a Class A motor coach may have been too much for some in the past. But innovations like collision warning, lane-departure monitoring, auto vehicle braking, and much more, may change all that.
In the past, RVs like Class A coaches did not offer these high-tech options as they represented too small of a market. However, innovative products designed for the over-the-road trucker are being employed in the RV industry. The Bendix anti-collision and adaptive cruise control are already in some motorhomes, and these include automatic Jake Brake deployment. Side blind-spot radar warning systems are now featured on some units. Enhanced electronic steering that maintains a straight line, even in crosswinds or road crown sloop, has been available as Comfort Drive since 2007. Lane departure monitoring and even self-lane guidance is also being developed and may soon be on the market.
So, with all these high-tech features, the need for well-honed skills is being replaced, or at least reduced. This, however, may open the field for those that have been just a little intimidated by such large vehicles as the class A coach.
Driving just got a whole lot smarter.
Peter Mercer—Keeping You Just Ahead of the Curve