Installed on select Buick and GM vehicles since 1996, OnStar is a beneficial application of modern technology for the driver. It began as a system that provided added safety for drivers when cell phones were less abundant. Pressing the OnStar button effectively called an OnStar operator, who could then provide relevant information or contact emergency assistance. Today OnStar provides many useful services, all of which are based on a combination of four technologies. These technologies are the key to understanding your OnStar system.
How it Works
OnStar is based on four technologies working in unity, with each technology bringing certain abilities to the table:
* Cellular Service: This allows the vehicle to call an operator or, on most modern OnStar installations, anyone with a phone of their own. OnStar hands-free calling is a safety feature designed to keep drivers from using their own cell phones while driving; a dangerous act that causes many accidents every year.
* Voice Recognition: Modern voice recognition technology allows OnStar to recognize voice commands. The driver can activate OnStar and verbally instruct the system to call someone, contact emergency services or ask for simple information such as weather conditions.
* GPS: The global positioning system technology connects an OnStar-equipped vehicle to a network of satellites in orbit. Letting the OnStar advisor and the driver know the exact location of the vehicle. This is used for driving directions, as well as location information for emergency services.
* Vehicle Telemetry: This system of remote sensors monitors the vehicle for signs of failure, from age or from an accident. It allows OnStar to know automatically when a collision occurs, what damage has occurred and what condition the car is in. In the event of a collision, the OnStar operator is notified and calls the car to check in with the driver, to ensure that they’re okay or to contact emergency services.
What can OnStar Do for You?
OnStar makes use of the technologies listed above to provide a number of useful services. Which services are available depend entirely on the package you purchase.
* Airbag Deployment Notification: If you’re in a situation where an airbag deploys, OnStar is automatically notified and an advisor calls you to check in. If you do not or cannot reply, OnStar will automatically contact emergency services.
* Emergency Contact: This is a dedicated Red Cross button that, automatically contacts emergency services for you. If you find yourself in need of assistance, but your car is not damaged in such a way that it triggers a call from OnStar, this button will call for assistance.
* Stolen Vehicle Locator: As an additional safety feature, the Stolen Vehicle Locator activates the GPS tracker in your car and allows law enforcement to locate it if it has been stolen. If you have simply lost your vehicle in a dense parking lot, you can also contact OnStar to flash your lights and beep your horn to help you locate it.
* Remote Unlock: If you lost your keys or locked them in your car, calling OnStar allows them to send a signal to unlock your car remotely.
* Vehicle Status Monitor: This part of the telemetry system monitors the diagnostics of your car, such as the engine, the brakes and the air bags. If one of these systems is in need of repair, OnStar will contact you and let you know.
* Hands-Free Calling: As a safety feature, OnStar allows drivers to subscribe to a wireless plan, allowing the car to make calls to an outside line. This allows you to call friends, family, restaurants, businesses or anyone else without using your own cell phone while driving.
* Roadside Assistance: One of the original features of OnStar, contacting the advisor allows you to call for roadside assistance in the event of a flat tire, breakdown or fuel emergency.
Advanced plans also include GPS-based driving directions, taxi contacts, information services and even concierge services.