Most of today's in-car navigation systems rely on displaying maps held on CD-ROMs. But before satellite and net-based services come to the car it may be safer to do what GM has done - hook up 100,000 Americans to our old friend, the call centre. After all, where American consumers go, Brits are sure to follow.
Through its dealers, GM's OnStar division supplies an embedded hands-free cellphone, a GPS receiver, an antenna and a simple console. This rig connects to a 24-hour call centre near Detroit. Press one button and you get access to an operator, who among other things can help you out with recordable directions and explain the meaning of dashboard lights.
When an airbag inflates, Detroit knows about it right away - automatically - and can send appropriate help.
If your car is stolen, Detroit tracks it. Lock yourself out - Detroit unlocks the doors for you. And best of all, if you lose it in a car park they will flash your lights or sound your horn.