I actually stepped in a puddle.
That’s a weird story to mention while I was testing the Genesis G90, a luxury flagship sedan that is about as high-tech as it gets these days. I was visiting a cabin in Wisconsin (writing a book, if you must know) and it was late at night. I forgot a charger in the car after a rainstorm, and I didn’t bring the key with me out to the vehicle. I walked up to the door and the car dutifully ignored me. It was pitch black with tons of tree cover, and I muttered something about technology under my breath. I then promptly stepped flat-footed directly into a puddle of water.
Here’s how this is supposed to work. First, I have to say it didn’t make any sense at all to lock the G90 at this cabin, where the only other signs of life involved barred owls the size of large cats and a few other humans in nearby cabins. We’re talking about a remote wilderness area, but you can never be too careful. I went back to the cabin and grabbed the key.
This time, when I approached the vehicle, a large Genesis logo appeared on the gravel road. You sort of blink twice when you see it. I’ve tested several other makes and models that do this, including several Range Rovers and Jaguars, but it’s always startling.
Genesis calls these lights “puddle/approach lamps” and, oh the irony. My entire shoe was completely soaked through. It wasn’t until I looked up the approach lamps and noticed that Genesis mentions puddles that I had a good laugh about that. Yeah, you need the key.
My brain tends to jump to a lot of what-if scenarios. Later, when I tried a few more approach tests with and without the key, I noticed the Genesis identifies the key from quite a distance away. During the day, I didn’t notice the approach lamps but at night they are bright enough to illuminate the entire parking area around the cabin.
It made me wonder what else approach lights could do. One innovation I could envision is more directional lighting. For example, the car could sense where you are coming from and shine a light along the entire path. Both sides of the G90 illuminate, but I could see only lighting one side if the car senses only the driver. And, increasing the range. If an approach light could tell you were about 20-30 feet away and even shine a light for your approach that worked more like a flashlight, it would be handy in situations like mine, trying to puddle jump.
This is mostly a safety feature, not just for convenience. So, I’m wondering if there could be even more advancements here. Let’s say you are a bit worried about a dark parking lot. The car could use two different modes, one is a subtle help for avoiding puddles but a second mode (perhaps activated by the keyfob or if you speak a trigger word) could light up the entire area with approach lights. It could be similar to the panic alarm, but mostly just for lighting.
For now, I will say: I have learned my lesson. Don’t lock the car at a remote cabin, there’s no need. If it’s nighttime and I’m going to grab a charger, bring the keyfob.
Also, bring a flashlight.