Electronics News

MCU Vendors Tackle Electronic Safety

View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Greg Stirling
User Rank
MCU Vendors Tackle Electronic Safety
Greg Stirling   9/22/2011 3:20:02 AM
I expected this subject would come up sooner or later with microprocessors now controlling the functions of automobiles.  PLC's have been used for years to control elevators and amusemnet park rides.  Generally for critical situations such as this, there are two PLC's and they monitor each other in a 'watchdog' configuration.  There are few if any failures in these systems that can be traced back to the controller...  I have been in the automation business for 30 years and have never seen a PLC fail or had to replace one.  Obviously this same robustness needs to be applied to embedded automotive control systems.  And work under many varied modes and enviromental conditions.  No easy task.


User Rank
Re: MCU Vendors Tackle Electronic Safety
Jason   9/22/2011 9:27:53 PM
While it is no easy task right now, with the advances in electronics and chips, it will not take long for it to become easier.


MCU's are becoming the working horse of industry.  As their reliability and acceptacle occurs, it won't be long before they are in everything.  As long as Engineers keep in mind that they need to implement code to compensate for the lack of inherent robustness that the MCU lacks versus PLCs, MCUs are a very strong contender.

User Rank
>Functions Too
mr88cet   9/30/2011 1:21:47 PM
It's also worth mentioning that functions have not historically been viewed as safety-critical are increasingly regarded as such.  Engine control is one example of that.

William K.
User Rank
MCU vendors tackle electronic safety
William K.   10/4/2011 9:40:56 PM
Control system safety has always been a vital part of control systems, and in times past it was mandatory that the emergency-stop system not depend on any programmable logic. The reason is clear, not that the hardware was unreliable, but that the software could be corrupted. That was acknowledged by all involved, and the rules written accordingly.

Now we get to where there are all kinds of software controlled functions in a car, with quite a few of them being important to vehicle safety. This has certainly increased the probability that a failure coud have very bad results. After only a few dozen unexpected acceleration incidents it has become apparent that perhaps some effort should go toward guarding against software failures. Of course, only a fool would release a system whose "emergency stop"function was dependant on part of the software in the control program. Those responsible for assuring the safety of cars on the road should have refused to allow the sale of any vehicle that could not be switched off manually in the event of a control program failure. IT would seem that economic considerations were far more important than user safety. In this case especially, providing an "emergency stop" function would not have added any major cost to the system and it would have shown due dilligence in providing a safety feature.

So now the makers of the automotive systems are at last admitting that things can fail, at least a bit, on occasion, and so they have decided to provide a means to reduce the effect of a failure. This is certainly good, and it should benefit all. But I still would demand that all vehicles have a means to shut the engine off, independent of the control program. And I don't believe that is at all paranoid, not one bit.

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Electronics News
Flexible electronics will expand beyond its high-profile role in fitness over the next five years, potentially aiding in the treatment of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease.
By creating new ways to develop 5G software, suppliers are speeding 5G wireless development and eliminating the “over-the-wall” approach to design.
We count down the inventions that have had the greatest impact on our lives.
From batteries and relays to chargers and enclosures, we offer a look at The Battery Show 2015.
A small team of engineers has created a tackling dummy robot that's comparable to training with human players on the football field.
Design News Webinar Series
10/1/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
8/13/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/20/2015 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 5 - 9, Standards for the Internet of Things (IoT)
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6 |  7

Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2015 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service