More Than an Auto Show
Bike, riding, scrapbooking, traveling, baking….I have many hobbies, but cars is not one of them. So as you can imagine, being selected as in intern at the Chicago Auto Show was something I was very excited about, but also very nervous about. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a 4- and 6-cylinder and didn’t have the slightest idea what horsepower was. But to my surprise, there is a plethora of learning opportunities at the show.
First off, there are 3 test tracks where you can ride along with the driver and learn about that brand, car, and new features. Toyota has put their new Camry in the spotlight with their test track featuring a battery engine, wireless charging, expanded back-up cameras, and new safety features. Plus, at the end of the test track, you get a sampling of the much sought-after Fluff Ice. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Multi-brand test track is similar to Toyota, in that it spotlights the brands new cars, but it has a little kick at the end where you speed up to nearly 40 MPH down a short runway and brake quickly to avoid running into a wall. It’s a fun rush and worth the often lengthy lines. The third test track is my personal favorite: Camp Jeep. Here you load into a Jeep where the driver takes you up and down a steep hill, tilts 30 degrees sideways on a ramp, and powers over logs and rocks. This shows just how powerful the Jeep and all of its unique features.
In addition to test tracks, there are several virtual reality and simulation interactive stations that allow you an inside look at what that vehicle is all about. Ford has the highly-popular Simzilla which is essentially a video game on steroids where you are racing a Ford Mustang with full pedal and steering control on a hydraulic platform in the air. You feel the car shifting and shaking as you gain speed and whip around corners. In Toyota’s Safe Driving Oculus Rift virtual reality, you’re driving a car down the street trying not to crash as they attempt to distract you with people, cars, and text messages teaching you the importance of safe driving. Also using Oculus Rift virtual reality, Chrysler teaches you what goes into crafting their Chrysler 300. During this, your eye movement guides you around the factory as they narrate to you just what is happening and how it all comes together. These experiences bring life to the show and a great learning opportunity.
Overall, the Chicago Auto Show has been an incredible experience, not only to see new cars, but to learn so much about a topic I know so little on. If you get the chance, come to the show, check out the test tracks and enjoy a fun day learning!
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