First Impression: Automatic Smart Driving Assistant

I had been keeping an eye on Automatic Labs’ Automatic Smart Driving Assistant for some time, after seeing their announcement of IFTTT support and a $20 discount on Best Buy’s eBay store, I decided to take the plunge. Despite their Android app still being in beta, it is quite functional, and other than their web site omitting my car from the list of supported vehicles (which proved inaccurate), the process from discovery to installation and setup was a fairly smooth one.

The first “trip”, however, did not seem to “do anything” – there were no audio alerts, and the app didn’t seem to indicate that anything was “happening”. [Update: Automatic Support got back to me in < 24 hours and explained this was due to a firmware update in progress] Toward the end of my second trip, however, I did finally notice a “hard brake” alert, and upon arriving, found that both trips were logged to my phone after all. The trip summary with MPG, cost, “driving feedback” and a little route map was exciting to see. Though that is really all it does for the most part, other than summarizing the same data each week, as well as diagnosing “check engine” lights should they happen to arise.

Automatic - Never Forget Where You Parked

One feature that I was excited to test was the “Never Forget Where You Parked” functionality; I don’t actually drive that often, and when I do, there’s little chance of forgetting where I parked (other than perhaps what level in the parking structure, where unfortunately this feature is of no use) – but I made a point to park a little further out on one occasion and create an opportunity to log some bonus steps on my Withings Pulse too while I was at it. However, the location reported by Automatic (the car pin, to the left there) was inaccurate to the point of futility – a good block and a half or so from the car’s actual location (indicated by the Google Maps “blue arrow”) – which to my mind makes the feature somewhat useless.

[Update: Subsequent "Never Forget Where You Parked" tests seem more accurate.]

I love to gather and analyze data on pretty much anything, so I’m enjoying the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant AUT-LINK1-N a great deal; I’m not sure that its gas-saving message resonates with me – a quick comparison of the same 35 mile trip both adhering to and ignoring its recommendations yielded $0.16 savings using 89 octane gas; the additional time it took, however, cost me 125 times that, based on my standard billable rate, so…seems kind of like an endorsement of bad habits? (^o^)=b

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