Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Tue December 22 2015

Tech of the Week: Make Road Trips Super Smart With Automatic

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | December 22, 2015

Tech of the Week: Make Road Trips Super Smart With Automatic

Photo via Automatic

Not to speak ill of your car, but it could use a bit more in the intelligence department. Fortunately, there is a budding industry for devices such as Automatic that bring a wealth of information to the driver, making motoring absolutely fun again.

I was recently fortunate enough to get my hands on a review copy of Automatic to take it for a literal test drive.

For those who aren’t familiar, Automatic is a gadget that plugs directly into your car via the accessible OBD port.

After a few minutes of fiddling and downloading of the app, you are instantly connected with your car as if you just finished some Car as a Second Language class. You get tips on how best to drive, updates on fuel, safety measures, a location function and more.

Here is a brief video that explains the technology:

Price: $99.95 regular price at Automatic with current sale price of $79.99 as of this writing. ($79.99 at Amazon)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Now I’m sure I will have more thoughts after a few months with Automatic serving as Chewbacca to my super-cool Han Solo.

However, after a couple weeks I am sold.

Driving has become so menial that it's hardly any fun anymore. But this brings an app’s sense of whimsy and combines it with your daily commute.

The most important part is the information it yields is perfect for the occasional road trip or for the business traveler who uses their car for their excursions.

Now there are details that I enjoy seeing, such as how much gas I am using in monetary form.

A recent 20-mile journey here in Los Angeles cost me about $2.92 at the pump. Rather than seeing a gauge deplete, I now have a fiscal sense of distance and how much that is costing me at the pump. That might be the most enjoyable, but there is so much more here if you dig deeper, as you can see from the above tweet and video.

Thanks to the car already sending out information via its computer, you are able to see what might be causing the check-engine light to come on and at times turn it off on your own without having to drive to a mechanic.

What’s more, I was able to set up a list of emergency contacts during set-up. Thanks to the accelerometer, if I am ever in an accident those parties as well as emergency services will be contacted.

There is far more information on the website: Locate your parked car; receive real-time tutoring on your driving (which you can turn off), see a low-fuel warning and more.

As you can see, there is a lot to warrant your attention, but really it’s just a lot of fun to use. From the droid-like beeps that greet me when I turn on the car to seeing how I am driving with an ongoing score, this device and app work together for a far more intelligent drive.

The fact that I am having fun with it means I will use it more readily. And the best kind of technology is always the kind that gets used and makes your life easier.

Automatic checks both boxes.


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