At the same time, Ethernet has gained momentum, because it’s a fast, mature technology with high production volumes in the computer industry. "Ethernet has a certain beauty compared to MOST," Reger told us. "It's not proprietary. And you have a few hundred thousand man-years of development in TCP/IP-based systems around the world and in all sorts of applications."
The auto industry's idea is to leverage the computer industry's enormous Ethernet know-how.
The concept is apparently catching on. Freescale Semiconductor recently teamed with BMW on the development of a 32-bit Ethernet-based microcontroller for use in surround-camera parking-assist systems. And more companies, including Daimler AG, are said to be on the verge of joining the SIG.
"The industry is begging us to develop Ethernet silicon," Reger says. "The automakers in China, Korea, and the US who did not already have MOST in their vehicles are highly interested in Ethernet."
To keep up with our Chevy Volt coverage, go to Drive for Innovation and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller. On his trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is driving a Volt across America to interview engineers.
Although that's funny, it's sad, too. And also scary. You would think that Connecticut might be considered less out-of-the-way than the wilds of the Santa Cruz Mountains, so the maps would be better. I agree, it's all in the databases. I guess GPS assistance just fell off my list of car electronics I want to have, leaving it blank.
The key is the databases. GPS is only as good as its databases. And, yes, they're definitely improving. That said, I went back to the same Connecticut location in 2009 and stayed at the same hotel. Again, I rented a GPS system for the vehicle. This time -- I swear I am not making this up -- the GPS led me to a nearby cemetery and told me it was my destination.
Chuck, that sounds pretty bad, indeed. And I remember hearing similar stories from some of my friends with in-car GPS systems back then in 2007. But haven't GPS systems improved much since that article was written?
I don't dislike GPS, but I've grown less trustful of it over the years. When it gets confused, it declares, "recalculating," after which it demands that the driver make sudden, unexpected changes. I've had numerous situations in which GPS les me astray, including this one:
To me, GPS assistance is the only new thing in car electronics that I find useful. But even that has problems, especially in the more remote areas like the one where I live. The problem is simply that, while the GPS function may work just fine, the maps are often wrong because no one's actually come out here and driven the roads. They can also be wrong for different reasons in major cities, where roads change more frequently.
David, I agree with you on the entertainment "features" in cars, however, not so much on some of the rest of the electronics. I've got an old car, but a portable navigation system (i.e., GPS). When I'm going some place new, I still like my maps, but as soon as you hit a snag you've got problems. When a road is closed, you miss an exit, you can't read a road sign, or whatever, it sure helps get you back on track without having to try to figure out where you are. As far as the 15 cameras are concerned, yes, that's excessive, but one on the bumper to let you back up far enough, but not too far is a good thing. (Not that I have that on my current vehicle...)
I'm a PE in electronics (15 years) and have nothing against technology, but I think this is ridiculous. It's a good example how we apply technology to something that doesn't need it. It does the driver no good, except for complacency while driving, which I'm very against. All the entertainment, cameras and navigation are not needed. Neither is drive-by-wire. Auto manufactures embrace it because it adds complexity to the vehicle. Complexity means more money from specialized equipment, training and perception of value. Why let a small garage repair a problem, when we could force the owner to take to dealer and force the dealer to pay for new equipment and training.. Of course, most people get rid of a vehicle as soon as the warranty expires anyway, so I guess repair cost wouldn't be a factor. I know I'm ranting, but it upsets me that we put so much effort into something that doesn't need it when the areas that do need revamped take a back seat. Example, why does it still take 3 business days for a check to clear a national bank?
You're probably right, Ann. Wiring bundles are going to continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future. Still, all the automakers know something will need to be done eventually. It's kind of like of like building up deabt on your credit card. At some point, you've gotta pay the piper.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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