“Hello, Traveling Moms, welcome to OnStar. How can we help you?”
Although you’d not be called by name were you the one making the OnStar call for directions—we were a special program—you’d get the same clear, professional assistance from the real person on the other end of the line.
Our cool voice came through the audio system in the Chevrolet Camaro we were prodding through the streets of Kissimmee, Florida, under an leaden-overcast May afternoon.
On the Road with OnStar – Disney World
Our wheels were a slick red Camaro SS convertible, and had there been any hope the rain would hold off, the top would be down and Megan, Chris and I would have had hair blowing in the wind. Well, the women would have hair blowing in the wind; my blowing mane is long gone. I would probably have bug splats on my pate. This is Florida, after all.
“There’s one Traveling Dad in here, too,” I protested. The only Traveling Dad tapped to write about innovation and technology, I was part of a collection of Traveling Moms, we were guests of Disney Parks, Chevrolet, OnStar and Panasonic for a wild weekend writing workshop.
This Saturday afternoon, we were on a scavenger hunt with an hour, a list and OnStar. Traffic was not kind, and we mixed up the dropped Ripley’s Believe or Not museum with the upside down White House—requiring a back-track for the right photo op.
The trip was fun, rushed, and we had a little trouble getting back to the resort in the rain. That was no fault of the eNav system driven by OnStar. We needed to avoid the most direct route—a completely clogged freeway—and had to shimmy and zig-zag our way on surface streets.
There’s a lot to OnStar, far more than can be garnered in an hour in the rain under a time compression.
Leisurely Learning OnStar at Home
Back home in Phoenix under the sunny Arizona sky, General Motors dropped of a Cadillac CTS Sedan for a week of leisurely playing with OnStar features.
There is no single tag to classify OnStar. It could be called an “emergency service,” but it also provides navigation to points of interest. It could be called “roadside assistance,” but it also provides an alternate cell phone system. OnStar could be a diagnostics service, but it also provides unique security features.
The two key safety features are the automatic crash response and emergency services. The crash response uses sensors in the car to detect a collision, airbag deployment, number of passengers, and location of the impact. OnStar reaches out to the car first and then notifies emergency service personnel.
The red SOS button connects the driver and passengers to the OnStar emergency responders. This is not a call center, but trained emergency responders who are able to connect with emergency services personnel across the entire country based on the vehicle GPS location. Callers can also use this as both a 9-1-1 emergency number for observed incidents or even to contact roadside assistance for the GM vehicle or observed assistance situations.
The other features – discussed in future articles – include security services, navigation, remote connections and vehicle diagnostics.
OnStar has a smartphone application, OnStar RemoteLink, allowing access to the car and OnStar services from the phone. Commands are password-protected.
Chevrolet and OnStar helped cover room costs and sponsored the Traveling Mom writing workshop, but did not review or comment on the content of this article prior to publication.