I don't know if they're overdesigned, but safety and infotainment features for production cars have gone beyond anything we dreamed of 20 years ago. Driver assistance systems now include blind spot detection, rear obstacle detection, drowsy driver detection, park assist, adaptive cruise control, lanekeeping and collision avoidance, in addition to the ten or so airbags, even in entry-level cars. Infotainment includes GPS, CD players, DVD players, and USBs for cell phones and iPods. Given the fact that none of us could have imagined these features 20 years ago, then what's it mean for the next 20 years?
I think plenty of people would argue that repairing software and electronics gitches is probably far more complex than any kind of mechanical fix. Obviously embedded software brings a lot to the table in terms of safety and functionality, but it's not for the faint of heart or for anyone that doesn't have the right diagnostic machinery and software expertise.
There is something to be said for simplicity. I had a 1970s Dodge Dart. I could fix anything on that car, and I could practically stand inside the engine compartment. I couldn't fix anything on the last two cars I've owned.
Nah! The more electroincs the better. Actually, leaving entertainment and other such aside, there are many safety and engine management tasks that are handled by electronics today. Replacing and repairing these systems is easier as well. I started out with 1960s British sports cars. They were simplicity itself. On the other hand they were not particularly effecient or safe.
The increasing amount of electronics within all cars, not just those found on the racing circuit is scary. The complexity continues to grow day by day, even in a low-end car. In most cases, it's a good thing, but could these cars be over-desgined?
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicleís parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but thatís just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
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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