We've all become accustomed to our cars' dashboards warning us of an impending calamity, be it low fuel, low tire pressure or even the dreaded nonspecific "check engine" light. But what if your car could tell you specifically that your alternator is going, or that your water pump is about to fail? That technology is coming, says General Motors’executive vice president of global product development,Mark Reuss. In a Thursday media luncheon, Reuss confirmed to us that GM is working on the technology using cars equipped with its OnStar communications network. According to Reuss:
"Being able to predict about when that [a failure] is going to happen prevents walk homes. If there's a problem with a brake rotor, if there's a problem with a brake system or a steering system – being able to predict that [failure] and inform the driver that they need to go to a dealer and have that service performed before it happens, that's really good R&D."
Today, OnStar is best known for its subscription services that help drivers deal with inconveniences and problems, from turn-by-turn navigation to automatic emergency services notifications in the event of an accident. But soon, OnStar will be used to mine your car's systems and compare its findings against vast pools of data in the cloud. If it finds variations in the performance of your vehicle's systems that are indicative of impending failures, OnStar will then be able to automatically notify you of the potential problem utilizing in-car screens, either via the infotainment system or gauge cluster display. OnStar presently has the ability to notify owners of vehicle maintenance intervals using email, so conceivably notifications could be delivered in this way, too.
So, will this be yet another subscription-based service for GM? Not necessarily. Reuss says:
"We're figuring out the business model right now. But theoretically, we'd like to offer that to all of our customers. We already give away a ton of money on that equipment of OnStar in the car that nobody really pays for. So we're going to use it."
So, is this pie-in-the-sky technology? No, Reuss says. "We're testing the system now with our employees," he says, which suggests it's coming soon.
Now, how long will it be before OnStar checks to make sure your preferred dealer has the required replacement part in stock and reserves a service appointment for you?