Google may have a self-driving car in the lab. But Chinese automotive company BYD has a car you can buy today … with an actual, real, operational remote control.
The BYD Su Rui is an ordinary-looking 5-seat sedan with 154 horsepower and 36 miles to the gallon. But it comes standard with very un-ordinary remote control technology that allows owners to park the car in tight spots, call the car over to pick them up in case of inclement weather, or show off for their friends — all at the sedate pace of 1.2 miles per hour.
At least, until hackers figure out a way to boost that speed.
BYD won a “Best Leading Science and Technology” award at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show for its remote driving technology. And while it won’t allow owners to drive their vehicles at the speed and distance of James Bond’s BMW in Tomorrow Never Dies, it is the first ever full-size vehicle you can treat like an RC toy from Radio Shack.
Using the included remote, drivers can start the car, move it forward and backward, and turn. Owners can also turn on the heat or A/C to get the cabin temperature just right.
The remote control functionality, however, is only operational when the driver is within 30 feet of the vehicle, likely as a safety measure. Again, I’m sure that interested hackers will increase that range shortly. In fact, install a camera, extend range via WiFi or radio … and the remote control could get even more interesting.
And I’m not sure why hackers would only mod their own vehicles. I’m predicting here and now that we will hear stories of car hacking, whether malicious or prank. And possibly even police reports of vehicles being stolen without any actual thief being physically present.
The Su Rui is available for just $10,365 USD for the base 1.5 liter model, or $15,710 for a turbo-charged version.
Image credit: BYD