Car Sensors

Why don’t modern cars have more external sensors?

Sure, some minvans have backup sensors so it beeps if you’re about to run over little Timmy, but it seems like sensor technology hasn’t gone anywhere in a long time.

Why not a series of like 8 sensors arranged on the outside of the car, with a range of like 4 feet or so? I’m not sure the best sensor for the job, perhaps a laser tape measure type device, it just needs to return a reasonable directional distance to large objects.

This would give you a rough sensor sweep of the car’s immediate surroundings.

You could sort of visualize it in a force-field style display.

If a car or other object triggered the sensor’s proximity radius, the indicator would change color.

On the dash it would be a simple display, much like the door-open indicator on some cars.

This would not be a replacement for mirrors or anything, you would not rely solely on this indicator, but it would be an added safety mechanism to alert you to pay attention to that area, in case you didn’t know there was a car there.

Another similar idea, but one that might be more distracting, would be a roof-mounted camera system that would provide a composite overhead view of your car and the immediate surroundings, so you could tell at a glance if there were a car in your blind spot.

80,000 miles!

80,000 miles

On the way to work today, I hit 80,000 miles on my 2004 Prius!

I snapped a couple pics as it changed over.

A little math…

80,000 miles at an average of, let’s say 46 MPG (it tends to be around that), that works out to about 1,739 gallons of gas. Damn, that’s a lot of gas! Not sure what the average price of gas has been over the past few years, let’s say $2, that works out to about $3,478 in gas.

If I’d had a lower MPG car, let’s say 25 MPG, the gas would have been $6,400.

So the Prius’ higher MPG has been a savings of $2,922 so far.
Plus the emissions are lower on the Prius, so there’s that, too.

I’ve had the car for 5 years, so that’s 16,000 miles a year, or 43.84 miles per day.
Which about matches my daily commute, so no surprise there.

I’ve already paid it off, so here’s hoping I can get another 5 years out of it!

2010 Pruis

Toyota unveiled the new 2010 Prius.

What’s new? A lot of little things, but nothing major.


* slightly (4 mpg) better gas mileage
* higher horsepower
* slightly redesigned exterior (a little more angular)
* redesigned dash
* slightly larger cargo area (0.4″ longer, 2.2″ wider)
* more airbags (one for the driver’s knees)
* different brakes (4 disc brakes vs. the old front disc, rear drum)
* 3 drive modes: electric-only, eco (better gas mileage), power (more horsepower)


* backup cam (has been available since 2007 I think, but not back in 2004)
* moonroof
* solar panel (can power A/C while the car is off, to keep it cool in the hot sun)
* “Safety Connect” (Toyota’s OnStar)
* LED headlights
* radar system (aids cruise control, hits brakes when crash is unavoidable)

So overall, some nice enhancements, but nothing as dramatic as the 2003-2004 redesign.
Seeing as I have my 2004 paid off, I think I’ll stick with that for a while.

I currently have almost 80,000 miles on my Prius and have had very few issues, I figure it’s good for quite a while longer.

Maybe one of these days I’ll install a backup cam kit. Marco had a cool option on his Toyota minivan, side cams that allowed him to see around corners. Europe gets all the cool options. =)

Here’s a breakdown of all the updates on Jalopnik:

Video cable for iPod Classic

My new iPod needed a special new cable to output video (par for Apple), so I ordered one. It arrived last night and I replaced the cable I was using in my car with the new cable.

So Prius + AV mod + iPod Classic + iPod AV cable = video on Prius.

Not that I will use it much (definitely not while driving) but still kinda cool.

The aspect ratio is funky on the Prius, it takes 4×3 video but shows it wider, since the screen isn’t 4×3. I suppose I could figure out what the aspect ratio is, and put video on my iPod that is appropriately squished, so when it get stretched on the Prius, it shows in the right aspect (though slightly cropped on top and bottom)…

(my aspect ratio math here)

The Price of Ignorance

I brought my car in for service today…

60,000 mile service is $420. Plus I get synthetic oil, which costs like $50 more.

They just called me, saying the drive belt needs replacing, for $120, and there’s oil in some intake someplace, which needs to be taken apart and cleaned, for $192.

So I’m looking at around $800, of essentially voluntary work (nothing was actually *broken*).


Guess that’s the price for not taking the time to understand the mechanisms myself, to be able to do my own maintenance or at least dispute excessive charges.

— update —

Yep, bill came to $800. Of which, $650 was listed as “labor”…

Maybe next time I’ll compare prices with the place just down the way from Staples…