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  5. RV + AI: Machine Shop Talk

RV + AI: Machine Shop Talk

Will Artificial Intelligence Change RVing? We Sat Down with One Very Talkative Chatbot to Find Out

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Getty

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, and, more broadly, the explosion of AI technology. The stories swirling around AI are a mix of world-ending sci-fi dread (SkyNet becomes self-aware and destroys humanity, a la Terminator), genuine economic apprehension (AI starts writing code; hundreds of programmers lose their jobs), and clever miscreants (students use AI to write their homework essays).

But what does AI know of RVing – if anything? Is RVing even on its radar? How could we use AI in RVing now? Or in the future? All good questions. So I sat down to have a chat with ChatGPT about RVing.

My “discussion” with the algorithmic “intelligence” wound up being partly serious, partly generic, and partly hilarious. You’ll see what I mean.

To start with, I thought I’d ask it what it even knows about RVing.

ai travel planning

Photo Credit: Poca Wander Stock/Getty

RV Magazine: So, what exactly is your understanding of RVing? I mean, you couldn’t have possibly done it. So what do you think it means to those of us who do?

ChatGPT: You’re correct that I, as an AI, haven’t physically experienced RVing. However, based on the extensive information and data I’ve been trained on, I can offer insights into what RVing means to those who engage in it.

RVing, short for recreational vehicle-ing, refers to a way of traveling and exploring that involves using a motorhome, trailer, or camper as both transportation and accommodation. It’s a lifestyle that allows individuals and families to venture into various landscapes, experience new cultures, and enjoy the freedom of the open road. RVing represents a sense of adventure, a desire for flexibility, and a means to connect with nature and fellow travelers.

Overall, RVing represents a unique blend of travel, freedom, and connection to both nature and other like-minded individuals. It’s a way of life that offers a sense of exploration, comfort, and the chance to discover new horizons while bringing people closer to the simple pleasures of the journey itself.

RV Magazine: In one or two paragraphs, how do you see yourself, or AI in general, taking a part in RVing going forward?

ChatGPT: In the realm of RVing, AI has the potential to play a significant role in enhancing the overall experience. As AI technology continues to evolve, it could provide personalized trip planning assistance by analyzing traveler preferences, destination options, weather forecasts, and real-time traffic data to create optimized itineraries. AI-powered virtual travel guides could offer on-the-go recommendations for local attractions, dining options, and activities based on user interests.

Moreover, AI-driven maintenance and troubleshooting systems could monitor RV systems in real-time, alerting owners to potential issues and providing step-by-step solutions, thereby enhancing safety and convenience during travels. As AI becomes more integrated into the RVing ecosystem, it has the capacity to streamline planning, enrich the journey, and offer valuable support to RV enthusiasts, making their adventures more enjoyable and hassle-free.

ai travel planning

Photo Credit: Anass Bachar/Getty

RV Magazine: Interesting point about AI maintenance and troubleshooting. What kind of diagnostic data would you need in order to provide early warnings of problems?

ChatGPT: To provide early warnings and accurate troubleshooting assistance, an AI system for RV maintenance would require access to a range of diagnostic data from various components and systems within the RV. Here are some key types of diagnostic data that would be valuable:

System Performance Data: Real-time data on the performance of critical systems such as the engine, transmission, braking, and powertrain.

Sensor Readings: Data from sensors measuring temperature, pressure, fluid levels, voltage, current, and other parameters.

Error Codes and Fault Reports: Information from onboard diagnostic systems that generate error codes and fault reports.

Fluid Analysis: Regular analysis of oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and other fluids.

Battery Health and Charge: Date on both house and vehicle batteries.

Tire Pressure and Condition: Data on tire pressure and tread wear can help prevent blowouts.

Climate Control Metrics: To help identify issues that affect interior comfort.

Navigation: Location data combined with historical data about routes, elevation changes, and driving conditions.

Maintenance: Access to a history of past service and repairs.

External Factors: Real-time data on weather conditions, road conditions, and traffic.

Collecting and analyzing this data through onboard sensors, diagnostic tools, and connected systems can provide valuable insights for early problem detection, predictive maintenance, and timely alerts to RV owners, ultimately contributing to safer and more reliable RV travels.

RV Magazine: That seems like a lot of data. If RV systems, such as the water heater or air conditioner, are placed online, will they not be vulnerable to hacking? The idea of someone hacking my RV’s control panel remotely, and setting the water temperature to scald, is not a comforting one.

ChatGPT: You’re absolutely right to consider cybersecurity concerns with the increasing integration of smart technology in RV systems. As more devices become connected, the potential for vulnerabilities and hacking does exist.

RV Magazine: Here’s a question that RV Magazine’s own Ken Freund answered back in our July issue: We have a 2020 Coachmen Freelander 27QB Class C motorhome. What kind of material does it have? How can I protect it from the sun and weather?

ChatGPT: The 2020 Coachmen Freelander 27QB Class C motorhome comes with a one-piece fiberglass roof. Fiberglass roofs are common in Class C motorhomes due to their durability and…

NOTE: OK. Full stop. I was pretty sure the 2020 Coachmen Freelander 27QB didn’t have a one-piece fiberglass roof. A few minutes with Google proved me right – it’s a membrane roof. I decided to stick more closely to a task I thought ChatGPT could handle: trip planning.

rv artificial intelligence

Photo Credit: Google Maps

RV Magazine: Plan an RV trip from St. George, Utah, to Tampa, Florida. Please plan a route that avoids the possibility of severe weather as much as possible and includes stops with entertainment or activities. We prefer not to drive more than 300 miles in one day. Our RV is 24 feet long. Please include details on where to stop overnight. We like cycling, road biking in particular.

ChatGPT: Certainly! Planning an RV trip from St. George, Utah, to Tampa, Florida, while avoiding severe weather and incorporating entertaining stops is a great idea. Here’s a suggested route with overnight stops and points of interest along the way:

Day 1: St. George, Utah, to Page, Arizona (Approx. 160 miles)

  • Depart St. George and head east toward Page.
  • Stop at the Glen Canyon Dam for breathtaking views of Lake Powell.
  • Optional short ride around Page for warm-up.

Overnight Stay: Wahweap RV & Campground, Page, AZ

Day 2: Page, Arizona, to Santa Fe, New Mexico (Approx. 365 miles)

  • Drive through the beautiful landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Upon arrival in Santa Fe, explore the historic downtown area.
  • Take a short ride around Santa Fe for sightseeing.

Overnight Stay: Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, NM

Day 3: Santa Fe, New Mexico (Rest Day)

Overnight Stay: Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, NM

Day 4: Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Amarillo, Texas (Approx. 280 miles)

  • Drive to Amarillo, Texas, where you’ll find the iconic Cadillac Ranch.
  • Optional short ride around Amarillo to stretch your legs.

Overnight Stay: Oasis RV Resort, Amarillo, TX

And so on, all the way to Tampa, Florida, at the conclusion of a 12-day itinerary.

So what’s my opinion on the state of AI and RVing today? Well, for trip planning, I think it’s useful right now. Its itineraries were reasonable, and I feel like it could be trainable to match an itinerary to your preferences—even if it took a couple of trips to get it right.

For creative troubleshooting with limited information, I think you’re still better off talking to an RV tech. But if AI was given detailed data, it’s reasonable to expect some sort of self-troubleshooting AI in the future. And for straight-up entertainment, it just doesn’t get any better than my last RVing exchange with ChatGPT.

RV Magazine: Describe the general steps for winterizing an RV in the style of Ernest Hemingway.

ChatGPT: In the bitter grip of winter’s embrace, the RV, once a vessel of wanderlust, awaits its dormant slumber. With weathered hands and practiced motions, the owner readies for the inevitable chill. A ritual of preservation, a dance with frost.

First, drain the lifeblood—water, that is—from the pipes and tanks, lest they be cracked by winter’s icy fingers. Open valves, let the streams flow free.

Next, the heart, the water heater. Drain, purge, for its warmth, is no longer needed in these frigid days. And the faucets, the showerheads—release them of their duty, lest their hollow forms become icy sculptures.

Antifreeze, the elixir of survival, is the final touch. A careful pour, a calculated measure, to ensure the internal arteries remain unblocked, safe from winter’s freeze.

And so, the RV stands, a cocoon of caution, shielded from the harshness beyond. The fire of the engine quelled, the wheels stilled, the dwelling wrapped in solitude. Winter’s winds may howl, but the RV, it sleeps, prepared for the day when the thaw returns, and its wheels spin once more toward the horizon.

James Adinaro
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