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You would download your car data
November 26, 2012 9:54 PM   Subscribe

"You probably don't think of your car as a developer platform, but Mike Rosack did."
posted by vidur (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. What an interesting article about something I had never thought of before. Good for him, good for OnStar. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 10:27 PM on November 26, 2012


If this car's a rockin', don't come... compiling?
posted by mazola at 10:28 PM on November 26, 2012


This sounds like a parody of breathless tech reportage at first blush but it's actually quite interesting. Thanks vidur.
posted by clockzero at 10:48 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Volt owner and software developer this seems pretty natural to me. It's a quick easy way to check out my own stats, as well as share them (read: evangelize) with others who might be interested in the Volt.
posted by SirOmega at 10:50 PM on November 26, 2012


Onstar is a Trojan horse.

Much like with cloud storage of documents, if your car's stats are in the cloud, they are in the hands of law enforcement and the intelligence community.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 PM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, that's why you make sure at least one of your vehicles doesn't have OnStar. Preferably one which you don't drive often and aren't seen in much.
posted by hippybear at 11:20 PM on November 26, 2012


I use Fuelly.com for much the same thing. I have to punch in the numbers myself, though. But it's got a nice and clean interface. (And it's by MeFite #1 and his posse!)
posted by Harald74 at 11:58 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that's why you make sure at least one of your vehicles doesn't have OnStar. Preferably one which you don't drive often and aren't seen in much.

I only communicate with my wife via dead drop.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:43 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Much like with cloud storage of documents, if your car's stats are in the cloud, they are in the hands of law enforcement and the intelligence community.

On the other hand, a lot of cars have been tracked by insurance companies for years, so the Trojan horse is out of the barn and Helen's in dressage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:48 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, insurance companies will use pricing to make sure almost everyone gives them all of their data. Secrecy will cost you a lot of money. Cheap insurance will go to the people who let their insurance companies monitor their driving behavior and bill them for each idiotic thing they do. Insurance companies won't necessarily tell the cops about you, not unless you're a real danger to clients, because they don't want you to stop driving. They want to bill you for how many miles you drive over the limit, how much over the limit, how many times you slam on the breaks instead of coasting up to a stop, how many times you accelerate like a rocket out of a stop, how many times you speed up going into a yellow light, how much you drive too fast for current road conditions (based on onboard sensors), etc. Meanwhile, the guy going 55-60 mph down the highway on autopilot will ride for free.
posted by pracowity at 1:31 AM on November 27, 2012


Onstar is a Trojan horse.

I'm not so much concerned about the privacy issues as I am with the simple fact that Onstar can control your locks remotely. With all the viruses, rootkits, data leaks, and security flaws out there, do you really want to give someone else the ability to lock and unlock your car over the Internet?

Picking a lock is a highly visible activity, as are using a coat hanger, brick, or other conventional means of forcibly gaining access. Using a local wifi hotspot to send a "unlock" command with authentication credentials gained from a data breach that one of Onstar's partners didn't bother to report is decidedly less so.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:58 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Insurance companies won't necessarily tell the cops about you, not unless you're a real danger to clients, because they don't want you to stop driving.

Well...Not until the moment comes when the relationship between the insurer and the cops becomes a financial one, with the cops paying the insurers for auto-billing car owners for each infraction, and passing-on a piece of the new cash-stream to the authorities.

I can see the sales pitch to the cops now..."You can realize huge savings by not having to have cars and personnel burning gas all day, prowling the highways for speeders and scofflaws, which, in these times of budgetary constraints..."
posted by Thorzdad at 5:00 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Volt owner (great car, btw), I have strongly avoided hooking up to the Volt Stats, the application they discuss.

This has nothing to do with privacy, and everything to do with the fact that gamification works extremely well for me. If I was tracking my mpg on some giant leaderboard, I would want to win. That would mean that I would stop driving the car on roadtrips, and shift to becoming some sort of hypermiler.

Even so, I shudder when the gas engine comes on, since I want to keep my Volt's lifetime mpg over 250., so each gallon of gas used is painful...
posted by blahblahblah at 5:55 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If your gas engine has kicked on, you've already lost.
posted by hippybear at 5:58 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This really is a heartwarming story. If you are lucky enough to have your data in high demand by your customers, it seems to me only common decency to give them access to it. Nonetheless, it's not at all uncommon for corporations to restrict access, put up walls, and have a strong "Not Invented Here" attitude towards information sharing. Good on them.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:32 AM on November 27, 2012


dunkadunc: "Much like with cloud storage of documents, if your car's stats are in the cloud, they are in the hands of law enforcement and the intelligence community."

This is one of those cases where the value of having that information available when needed vastly outweighs my need for privacy. Oh noes, the federal government knows that I probably have family in Virginia, that I sometimes accelerate unnecessarily when approaching steep hills, and I don't like walking to the within-walking-distance co-op when it is cold, raining, or dark out.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:34 AM on November 27, 2012


Oh noes, the federal government knows that I probably have family in Virginia

it's great that you have nothing to hide
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:49 AM on November 27, 2012


I used to get into discussions with friends about personal liberties ("they shouldn't have had pot anyway, they deserved it." "If you aren't doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide") I would point out that by their logic they would then support a system where using GPS and wireless data storage to create a system where every driving infraction is reported and a monthly bill is sent to them.

"That's ridiculous. That could never happen. That idea is dumb. You lose the argument."
posted by sourwookie at 7:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Staying completely away from the whole civil liberties aspect, this is a cool hack and good on OnStar for cooperating.
posted by Samizdata at 7:39 AM on November 27, 2012


Given most car companies attitude towards 'modders', this is a refreshing change. Most go out of their way to make things more difficult, not less.
I hope that this is the start of a larger trend, but I sincerely doubt it.

Does anyone know if the same data is available via ODB, or is strictly an online thing?
posted by madajb at 8:16 AM on November 27, 2012


I'd love to have this data for my car. It really is a remarkable change for automobiles; they're generally such closed platforms. See also: the difficulty of modifying dealer installed audio systems. OnStar is in an interesting position being somewhat of a third party. Good for them making the data available! If the Men in Black can access my data, I should be able to as well.

Somewhat related: I've been using OpenPaths to track my cell phone's location for a few months. It's quite interesting to have a record of where you've been.
posted by Nelson at 9:06 AM on November 27, 2012


If your gas engine has kicked on, you've already lost.

I know, and the result was that my commute home was made very stressful as the temperature dipped yesterday. My Volt then reported that it would be turning on the gas engine to warm the battery.

Winter is the ultimate boss battle.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:09 AM on November 27, 2012


This, of course, alludes to you: "
Oh noes, the federal government knows that I probably have family in Virginia

it's great that you have nothing to hide
"

As I understand it, it's an option. You don't have to get it installed in your car. Like using Gmail or Facebook, you expect that you are giving up some privacy. It's not about "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you don't have anything to hide" which suggests that everyone should share all their information and if they don't then they have done something wrong. I don't care that my posts on Facebook aren't really all that private because I don't make a habit of putting really private stuff up on Facebook. I don't worry about Gmail sharing my emails with law enforcement because if I were to discuss doing something illegal, which I think is highly unlikely, I wouldn't do it via Google Mail. At the same time, if someone wants that information to be private I totally respect that. I probably should have made it clearer in my original comment that I personally wasn't concerned about the issue.

I can totally see how if, for example, I were Muslim, I would be sorely irritated if the federal government kept track of each time I drove to my local mosque.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:59 AM on November 27, 2012


I wouldn't mind having stats like that about my car, if it was only on local storage, available via a USB connection or the like. I wonder how easy it would be to get inside the car and rip out the Onstar antenna.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2012


Somewhat related: Ford is standardizing their OBD output and have launched Open XC. Arduino and Android glue is also included to start playing with the data.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:51 PM on November 27, 2012


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