Escort’s New Radar Detector Spots Cops and Red-Light Cameras
The coming age of cars that drive themselves will have all kinds of unintended repercussions, not the least of which is a drastic drop in ticket revenues collected from lead-footed drivers. But if you refuse to hand over the wheel to an algorithm, determined to go as fast as you like, and keep your cash from Johnny Law, you’re gonna want a radar detector.
Radar detectors have been around for decades, but as cops think up new ways to catch us breaking the law, the gadgets must evolve. Gone are the days when it was enough to have K band and X band. Today’s detectors have GPS, Bluetooth, and digital signal processing, which increases the speed at which it finds radar signals. But nowadays tickets don’t just come from cops hiding alongside highways, they come from overhead, in the form of red light cameras and aircraft.
The 360 Max, the latest from longtime radar detector company Escort, takes everything a bit further. The biggest advance tackles the most annoying thing about radar detectors: They put out a lot of false positives. That’s because cops aren’t the only ones with radars. How do you think the automatic doors at your local Walgreens know you’re there?
That’s why Escort added what it calls “AutoLearn.” Each time it picks up a signal, it logs its frequency and location. If it sees the same one twice, it assumes it’s coming not from a ticket-spewing cop, but from something non-threatening. If it sees that signal again, it won’t bother you—meaning you have that many fewer beeps and flashing lights to ignore on your commute.
But what about increasingly common red light cameras? The Max 360 doesn’t actually spot them, but it knows they’re there all the same, tapping into a database Escort has built with data from unspecified third parties. As you approach a camera-armed intersection, the unit gives you a voice warning, just in case you were thinking about pushing a yellow light.
And those pesky planes? There’s no easy answer, says Tim Coomer, Escort’s VP of product. You’d need a massive antenna to pick up an aircraft thousands of feet overhead, but Escort’s data includes known air patrol areas. That’s not any more helpful than posted signs warning you about those patrols, but hey, more data never hurts. “It’s all about awareness,” Coomer says.
On top of that info, Escort’s doing some Waze-like crowdsourcing, with its app. Escort Live! gives you the speed limit, your current speed (if your speedometer breaks?), and reports from other app users about spotted speed traps.
Escort’s made some hardware changes, too. When the Max 360 does beep in alarm, it also tells you where it’s coming from, with an arrow on its small screen that points to the front, the rear, or the side. (Escort’s main competitor, Valentine, has had this feature for years, but its patent recently expired.) And a new magnetic mount lets you easily detach the unit and hide it in your glove box without taking down the whole window suction cup mount.
With a $650 price tag, the Max 360’s not cheap, but it does come with a tantalizing warranty: If you get a speeding ticket despite its best efforts, Escort will pay you back. Lead-footed brethren, go ahead and step on it.
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