General Motors' OnStar
Successfully applying technology in a car is harder than it sounds. Just look at the flack BMW has caught for its difficult iDrive system, or the only-recent entry of Lexus into the telematics market. General Motors, as painfully off as it may be at times, has nailed this area with its OnStar system, grabbing another headline today for saving the car of the daughter of Senator Bob Corker.
The cause for tracking Julia Corker's 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe? A carjacking in Washington D.C. Wednesday night. Stopping to offer directions to what appeared to be a lost traveler, Corker's Tahoe was nabbed, she was tossed out, and the vehicle was gone. Until OnStar started tracking it.
The two suspects in the Tahoe were caught just seven miles from the carjacking, stopped at a Taco Bell in their newly pirated booty. Police arrived, took the carjackers into custody and returned the vehicle to Corker. All thanks to OnStar's in-vehicle tracking system and communication with the police.
This is the first time the OnStar system has saved someone's bacon, but the high-profile application makes for an accessible example of the technology at work. For the $18/month subscription, it seems like a good sort of insurance, at least in areas where carjackings and theft are prevalent.
GM's OnStar service has also helped law enforcement capture criminals while on the run through its Stolen Vehicle Slowdown feature, which can bring a vehicle's speed down to a slow enough pace for police on the ground to stop it, helping to circumvent the need for a risky high-speed pursuit.