An accident data recorder is mounted in the cockpit under the driver’s legs so it is well-protected in case of an accident. The ECU is mounted on the left-hand side of the car as the right-hand side is what normally hits the wall first at an oval where the cars run counterclockwise.
KV Racing Technology technicians work on driver Tony Kanaan's car in preparation for the Indy 500 (May 27). Electronics are positioned in the car to pose minimal hazard to a driver during a collision. (Source: Littelfuse)
One piece of IndyCar electronics is unique -- the steering wheel that contains the displays and controls customized to each driver. "Wheel components are located so the driver can operate them without taking his/her hands off the grip," Woodie said. "All components are aerospace-grade, and water- and dust-proof." For reliability, the steering wheels are torn down and re-built on a regular basis, replacing controls as they reach mileage or age limits. A quick-release collar/connector on the steering wheel allows it to be changed out in seconds with a backup wheel during a pit stop if there is a problem.
"Critical controls are hard-wired through the steering column. Others operate through the CANbus used by the dash display mounted on the steering wheel," said Knowles.
Over the last decade, IndyCar electronics have evolved dramatically -- and become more complex. But they have become smaller, lighter, and more capable -- making the cars lighter and faster, while improving data acquisition and control.
Learn more about the Indy 500 at Littelfuse's Speed2Design site.
Good point about OBD, 3drob. Increasingly, if you take your car to a neighborhood mechanic for a serious engine problem, they don't have the software to recognize the problem and make the fix. This forces people to bring their cars back to the dealerships in many cases.
Yes, there is a lot to be said for simplicity. I have to hand it to the automotive industry for building cars that last longer than before, but it's still hard to accept the fact that it takes a computer to fix even the smallest item on a car now.
The real problem today is not how complicated any individual system is in a modern car, it's the fact that all the systems are interconnected. And there are more and more of them in cars. You may think the problem is in one system, but the cause is really in another system interconnected thru two other systems. Not only that, but often with a failure in one system, you cannot even get far enough along to troubleshoot. My dad was a mechanic and a regular problem with 1990's era vehicles was the car would die on the side of the road: because the radio stopped working (and don't assume that things are that much better now).
Not only can the weekend mechanic not fix it, often the dealership cannot fix it. What the dealership usually does is to just start replacing things. If they ate the cost of this method, things would improve rapidly, but they don't (we do).
When the economic or legislative pressures on the car manufacturer's hit a breaking point, they will start to add better diagnostics to cars (i.e. OBD didn't happen until mandated).
Rob, excellent point.My wife and I have a Volvo and finding someone to make the necessary repairs when problems arise with electronics is a real pain.We did find an individual but so did every other Volvo owner in the Southeast.He's very good and everyone knows it.Basically, take a number.Automobiles become more sophisticated but in some cases, the ability of the repairmen does not.This continues to be a very real problem in our "neck of the woods".
Ervin, you are right. Most of the mechanical components in automobile are replaced by chip based systems which can make the working principle easier. Now a day’s in car the dash boards are completely automated with micro controller based chip sets and sensors. This includes the pre driving tests like wheel pressure, radiator temperature, brake condition etc. So other than driving, the driver won’t to be bothered about any other things.
Exactly right, Beth. With all the features that are available today, there would be far too many permutations if they let you pick whicever ones you want, so they bundle them. Then you end up getting a lot of features you don't want.
In Aviation It is expensive to certify software. so we use old school logic and analog circuits to this day to make cheaper products. In the Automotive industry to certify software is a simple matter. Still expensive however the volume that automotive has makes the expense managable. The reason for the high tech gadgets is cost reduction. A lot of the circuits in your vehicle can be reduced to single chip or single board circuits due to microcontrollers. Dont forget that most microcontrollers are only 1-10USD a piece. so why not show these gadgets to consumers to increase the hype of new tech and force you to sell your used car for a new one? also keep in mind that new features could mean that the automotive industrie is compensating for some known saftey issue. when you reduce the weight of your vehicle you add more airbags or better bumper to compensate due to a harder deceleration of the vehicle during testing. Simple logic really. When a car dealer tells you that the engine is designed to drop in the event of a catastrophic accident this means that their firewall is much thinner then before and the support for your engine just lost a few pounds too. No safety added really just fuel efficiency and more expensive accidents.
I think in many cases, it's the kitchen sink syndrome. Some of the stuff appeals to the gadget folks who like a lot of bells and whistles, but many of us just want the basics, albeit, the basics to be delivered in a state-of-the-art way. The problem is, the car companies' car packages bundle things together so you often have to opt for the whole electronics she-bang even if you're just looking for a killer stereo system and don't care about GPS or voice control or even a passenger infotainment system.
More often than not, with the purchase of a sports car comes the sacrifice of any sort of utility. In other words, you can forget about a large trunk, extra seats for the kids, and more importantly driving in snowy (or inclement) weather. But what if there was a vehicle that offered the best of both worlds; great handling and practicality?
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
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