Tag Archives: stick

Hack an XBox Controller to Learn to Drive Stick

Source: Jalopnik

I like that there is innovation like this to help new drivers learn to drive stick (even though the problem with driving stick is mastering the balance between the clutch and accelerator rather than shift times). Even better is that it’s a great demonstration as to how Ford is pioneering a way to have an open standard and an API to communicate with the car’s computer. Having the API will allow developers to build custom gauges or monitoring tools that may bridge the gap between old-school and new-school tech and make modern cars a little bit less mysterious to people (and maybe vice versa by making computers less mysterious as well).

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Hill Start Assist, Part Deux

It's half past four and I'm shifting gear.

It’s half past four and I’m shifting gear.

I wrote a post a while ago about hill start assist. I still stand by the fact that it’s nice, but not really all that useful for an automatic transmission. I now have a car with hill start assist, but it’s a stick-shift, and I have mixed feelings about it.

The hill start assist function is engaged if the car’s computer detects that it is on a hill and the brake pedal is pressed. As soon as I lift my foot off the brake, the computer will hold the brakes for up to two seconds or until I press on the accelerator. It is basically an electronic version of the old hold-the-handbrake-on-a-hill crutch.

I appreciate the feature on steep hills, but it is the most frustrating when parallel parking on a hill. Not that it happens often, but it is bothersome when it happens. Parallel parking requires slow speeds, which is only possible by slipping the clutch slowly without gas. With hill start assist, it makes you either wait until it disengages or you tap the gas with your foot off the brake. In both cases you have to be quick with the clutch to make sure it’s not going to roll into the car parked extremely close to you (because you have to have your foot off the brake to disengage the feature). You also have to make sure you don’t stall and cause it to roll into the other car. Applying the brake just engages the hill start assist again so you’re back at square one. ARGH!!!

It would be nice to have a button to enable hill start assist with the feature off by default. If I was to teach someone to drive stick I would figure out how to turn off the feature or get a different car without hill start assist to teach driving stick.